Just Keep Swimming

Disclaimer: this post is a post I’ve been mulling over for a few weeks now. I’ve been trying to figure out the way to treat this subject with the sensitivity it deserves, because yes, I can be open and candid about it, but for some people it’s just not easy. The wounds are too fresh. I’m showing you my cards here. I’m wiping off my poker face. I’m putting it all on the table. This post, like so many others, is about suicide. And I need, no, I want, you guys to know that before you keep reading. Because I understand that some of your wounds are fresh, but I also know that sometimes talking about can speed up the healing process. I also know that sometimes talking about it can make it worse. So, if the latter is the case, stop reading. I don’t want to make your burden heavier than it already is. Make yourself a cup of tea and go to your happy place. If the former is the case, make yourself a cup of tea and read this post. Either way, I want you all to know that you are loved, and there are people out there who understand your pain, who will be willing to help carry your burden.

 

It’s been 4 years, 1 month, and 1 day since I attempted suicide. I survived. Yet, so many others do not.

I’m not going to give you statistics, because if you want to know, you can look up the numbers on your own. I’m not going to give you statistics, because this isn’t speech class where I need numbers to convince my audience to agree with me. It’s not that I don’t have facts, because I do.

Fact: Suicide is a moment.

Fact: Depression is a race.

Fact: Suicide is a moment. A moment when someone decides they are tired of running.

Fact: Depression is a race, and if you stop running for even a second, it catches you.

Fact: Suicide is a moment. A moment when someone decides they are tired of running. In that moment, it doesn’t matter that there are people who love them.

Fact: Depression is a race, and if you stop running for even a second, it catches you. If you stop and rest, it begins to grow on you.

Fact: Suicide is a moment. A moment when someone decides they are tired of running. In that moment, it doesn’t matter that there are people who love them. Because all of sudden, life hits them in the chest, and they realize this sadness will never go away.

Fact: Depression is a race, and if you stop running for even a second, it catches you. If you stop and rest, it begins to grow on you. It’s like a vine that blocks out the sun, a python strangling the joy out of you, and rust that corrodes the bones.

Fact: Suicide is a moment. A moment when someone decides they are tired of running. In that moment, it doesn’t matter that there are people who love them. Because all of a sudden, life hits them in the chest, and they realize this sadness will never go away. And they dare themselves to do it.

Fact: Depression is a race, and if you stop running for even a second, it catches you. If you stop and rest, it begins to grow on you. It’s like a vine that blocks out the sun, a python strangling the joy out of you, and rust that corrodes the bones. And it’s so easy it sit there and let it consume you, because it whispers to you of an eternal sleep.

Fact: Life is made up of moments.

Fact: Life is a race.

When I am up high, I get scared. Because I’m telling myself, I could really do this. I could. But then, when I think these thoughts, I think of how great it would be to fall in love, how great it would be to travel the world. And I return back to normal. But I hold on to the moment and the thought of what it would be like to travel through the air. And I know I’ll probably never take myself up on the dare again, but the memory gives me a comfort that the day is mine to choose. Because the memory of how I felt in that moment when I swallowed those pills is tucked away in my brain like a sour candy stored in my cheek. I don’t like sour candy.

Some people do.

Some people take themselves up on the dare, because they don’t see how life can get any better. And I can understand why, because sometimes I’m tired of running, which is usually 2.5 minutes after I begin, because I have asthma.

Some people take themselves up on the dare, and they leave their families behind. And their families are left picking up the pieces and are trying to make them fit. But like a jigsaw puzzle with a missing piece, it will never be the same.

And we can’t save everybody, but we should certainly try.

Because I know first-hand how devastating a suicide can be. My mother lost a cousin to it, and my dad did too. And they almost lost a daughter.

And in the last year, my high school has lost two graduates to it, and now the families and friends are wondering why.

I don’t know the reason for other people, but I know mine.

And I think society is talking about it more, which is good, but I think people need to better understand that this is a disease. People like me can’t just snap out of it. Because we can recover for a while, but it will inevitably return, so we live our lives in the moment. The future is scary, and it’s not always guaranteed.

Because it’s all too easy to drown in an ocean of tears, and sometimes we forget we can float in salt water.

 

 

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Time Line

Word association time: Time line. time passing. Growing. Healing. Rebirth.

May 19, 2013. 5 years later:

I remember you like it was yesterday. I remember the time and the place because for a few moments, the clock stopped, and everything was chaos, upside, backwards. They say wrong place, wrong time. But what they mean is: be watchful of your surroundings, don’t go alone. As if that makes a difference.

Because I had every right to be there. You didn’t. If my body were the most secure apartment building on the Upper East Side, you were the best con man who lied his way into getting the security key and set up temporary residence within my walls.

But for being temporary, you left a permanent mark. You stained the walls yellow with the smoke of lies you exhaled as you destroyed my once-white walls. Because, white is the color of purity, and you made me impure? I guess. And you rewired my brain into thinking yellow walls are permanent, because no one would sell white paint to someone like me.

Unfortunately for you, my body is not an apartment building on the Upper East Side. It is a temple. And I don’t need to repaint my walls white, because I know someone whose red blood painted me gold. And I know yellow + red does not equal gold, but this guy I know defies the laws of physics, because He died and rose again (not like a zombie rises, but for real, for real, He rose).

 

June 16, 2013 3 years later:

Time heals all wounds, yes. But, time fades all scars. Remember those lies you told me? Well, apparently, repeating lies is self-destructive. Lies turn into self-hate turns into release through a razor, which does more self-harm than good.

Did you know the constellations can be mapped out on your skin? I’ve tried. I think I got to Andromeda before I realized I was Andromedone (I’m sorry. I had to. I use humor to mask some of the pain).

My body is a Temple, but I tried to destroy it, because I thought you destroyed me.

I made myself bleed, because I wanted to be my own Savior.

 

Today:

Some nights I lie in bed, and I feel nothing. Some nights I lie in bed, and I feel everything. And I don’t know which is worse.

I used to get ready for bed with the lights off, because I was only beautiful in the dark. Now, I do everything with the lights on (except for sleeping). Because a rose needs light to grow.

I told you, one day I’ll be a rose. You laughed. But you were a thorn in my side. Rose have thorns.

My Gardner wore a crown of thorns on his head so I could grow and blossom.

Guess who’s laughing now? I am.

I’ve learned out of the ashes comes beauty. And while you said I was ugly and burned my soul to the grown, God said I was beautiful and rebuilt me whole.

Because with the passing of time, I’ve healed. Chaos has become order. And no matter how many times I test gravity, I will always find my wings and fly.

Letter to Who I Was

Dear 13 Year Old Me,

Right now, you are in pain. Right now, you are trying to understand how people can be so cruel. The ground beneath your feet was ripped out from under you so quickly, it will take five years to process and begin to heal. And it will be a long five years.

When you’re 13, the world seems so vast, but it never really gets any smaller. It just gets more manageable, because right now, you feel so alone. But one day, not too far from now, you will meet people who have walked paths parallel to the one you walk. You will meet people who understand exactly what you mean when you say, I feel numb. I don’t feel alive, even though right now, you have no idea what I’m saying.

Because one day, not too far from now, you will look in the mirror, hate what you see, and you will become so consumed with self-hate you will be unable to feel anything else. In that moment, you will find sweet release in a razor. As the warm blood trickles down your skin, you will cry, because for the first time in a long time, you will feel something.

Right now, you’re wrestling with the concept of God, because you blame yourself, but you’re mad at God. But I need you to remember faith is believing in what you cannot see. Because down the road you will reach a canyon, and you won’t know how to cross, and life will seem so daunting. That is not the time to test gravity. In that moment, when you find your parachute at the bottom of the pill bottle, you will hear a voice—not much louder than the whispering of the wind, but still a voice. Instantly, you will understand what faith means.

When you’re 13 and getting ready to start High School, people will tell you it’s the best time of your life. Don’t believe them. High School is horrible if you’re even the slightest bit not normal, because the world is full of the wrong kinds of people. When it comes time to graduate, you will be ready. You will want to say, “Master has given Dobby a diploma. Dobby is free.” Don’t.

Because when you’re 17 and ready to leave High School behind, College doesn’t seem so bad. And it’s not, but it also is.

You will meet people who will make you hate yourself. You will meet people who inspire you. You will meet people who make you want to be a better person.

You will learn more about yourself. You will learn how to manage your time. You will learn that every place is a bed if you try hard enough. You will also learn people who drink decaf coffee are not to be trusted.

13 year old me, don’t forget you’re beautiful. There will come a day when you cannot believe that anymore because society tells you otherwise. But there will come another day, 5 years from now, when you realize that if society’s idea of beauty is being thin, you want nothing to do with it.

13 year old me, don’t forget about the scripture you’ve learned, because one day you will forget how to form a prayer. And the scripture combined with the book of Help Me, Jesus will be the only reminder that you have that you are the Child of the King.

Right now, you have nothing figured out, and that’s ok. 5 years from now, you will have just a little bit more to just enough figured out. But you will have found your purpose.

So I just want to tell you to keep your head up. Because one day you will realize this life is beautiful. One day you will know what you want to do with your life. You will know how to make a difference.

Love,

Your 18 year old self, AKA, who you are now

 

 

 

 

Run Away

Before you move away from home, you will probably think about running away at least once, statistically speaking. Some people will run away; some people will get half way down the street and realize they have no idea where they are going, so they go back.

If home is where the heart is, my body is not my home. My mind has threatened to leave so many times, and my hands have carved a map into the walls of this body. I’m not sure how I’ve made it this far. My feet are on the ground, but my heads in the clouds, and sometimes if I dream hard enough and long enough my heart falls in love with impossibilities formed by the imagination.

And sometimes I’m scared my heart and mind will pack their bags and leave this body for a less tormented soul. Because if I can’t love myself, how is anyone else supposed to love me? On a scale of 1 to 10, I’m pretty darn naïve, so I don’t have all the answers. But I have all the questions.

Like, how some infinities can be bigger than other infinities, and howmymindcanmovesofast but m y m o u t h m o v e so s l o w, and how people can write books and poems and use words that just tear at your soul and make you question everything you thought you knew about everything you thought you knew.

Because when I’m speaking, my mind is a complex connect-the-dots with no apparent connection, but when I’m writing, the world makes sense. Perhaps John Green said it best when he wrote: “My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations.” Because right now, my mind is the sky, my thoughts are as numerous as the stars, and the connections between thoughts are like shooting stars moving from Point A to Point B in this intergalactic sphere of connectedness we call humanity.

And I don’t know many things, but I do know about love, because love makes the world go round. John Green once wrote, “I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once,” which is true. But I also believe you can fall in love in an instant, if only for a moment. Or at least you can fall in love with the possibilities and the ‘’could have been”s of what might have been possible in that moment. Time is not linear, because a moment can last forever, even if it’s only in the replays of our minds.

Because I once saw a boy on a bus in Seattle with muddy brown hair and eyes so blue they put the sky to shame. I wondered what his life was like, and if he was in love or out of love, or even if he believed in love. I wondered if he had a Mom and a Dad or just a Mother and Father. I wondered what his hobbies were: does he read, play the guitar, dance in the rain? Does he fall in love with words the way that I do and as easily as I fell in love with him (because in that moment, we exchanged a glance, and my heart left my chest and connected with his for just a second. But it was one of the most beautiful seconds this heart of mine has ever experienced). Because on that bus in Seattle, I saw a boy with muddy brown hair and a crooked smile, and big, sad blue eyes, and I wanted so badly to save him from the darkness of his own mind, but how can I do that when I’m not able to save myself?

But none of that mattered, because when he got off at his stop, I knew I was never going to see him again. It was by pure happenstance that we met, and it was by chance that I saw the weight of the world on his shoulders. But I can’t help but wonder what might have been had we met in a different place and time. Because even though I don’t love him, my mind is in love with the idea of him. And even though I can’t control time, I wonder what he’s doing now. I wonder if he’s happier. I wonder if that crooked smile has finally connected with his big blue eyes. I wonder if someone’s saved him, if someone’s loved him, like I’m learning to love myself.

Because if home is where the heart is, I want to build myself a castle with a moat and alligators and a fire-breathing dragon. Because I’m not afraid of loving, I’m afraid of leaving.  My heart won’t run away, but it might sprout wings and fly.

And you could fill a novel with all the ways to love.

Time waits for no man

A minute: 60 seconds. An hour:60 minutes, 3600 seconds. A day: 24 hours, 1440 minutes, 86400 seconds.

Time is a standard unit of measure, but the duration can vary. Of course, the amount of seconds that a minute contains stays the same. It’s our perception of the amount of time that has passed which changes. A minute on Christmas Eve night, waiting for Santa to arrive, seemed to take forever. And then there’s that split second of pure terror when you step up to climb into a van and realize you’re falling. That second of wondering if anyone is going to catch you feels like an eternity.And with only seconds to spare, somebody does indeed push you back up.  When you’re having the time of your life, time just seems to zoom by as if it is a rocket headed for the sky. Because everybody knows that time flies when you’re having fun.

And we always seem to forget to look at a clock.

“Sorry I am late. It seems that I lost track of time.”

And it seems that we are always pressed for time, because rarely does one say that they have too much time on their hands. Instead a,

“If I only had 9 more hours in a day, I could maybe get all my work done” is more commonly heard.

And time heals all wounds.

Eh. I have a problem with that. I don’t believe that time heals all wounds (and I may be totally off base with this). Because you will always remember the hurt, the pain that you’ve been through. To me, time seems to just scar the wound over. It’s still there, but almost unnoticeable. Like the scars from a major surgery. As the scars fade, the become faint, harder to see. But if you look really closely, they are still there. Time doesn’t heal wounds, it just makes them last noticeable.

When giving advice to friends, I usually just say, “Give it time.” Because, not to sound cliche, but it usually works. Time has this amazing way of working things out. In arguments, it allows both parties time to cool off. In relationships with people, it gives people time to think, time to realize what they want.

Cliches about time are often over used. But most of them are justified.