Content warning: Self harm and suicide
Most people know I’m not shy about talking about the things I’ve been through. I try to be an advocate for mental health awareness because so many people struggle in silence. I’m not ashamed of the fact that in I’ve struggled with self harm since February 2012 and in March 2012, I attempted suicide which led to me having to spend a few days in the adolescent psychiatric ward at Community North Hospital. It all seems so long ago to me now, especially since I just passed the five year anniversary six months ago.
Every now and again, I’ll hit a wall and have a self harm relapse. Some are bigger than others, some didn’t even leave a faint scar. Most of the time my goal is to not scar so I can avoid having anyone bring it up at all. Every relapse feels like a fall back down to the bottom; Like I’m starting all over again in my recovery process. As I look back at where I was at in life at each one, though, I learned very different and significant lessons from them. Because it’s World Suicide Prevention Day, I’m going to be very open with all of you and share a little bit of my story.
This one destroyed me. This was the first, so it shook me to my very core. I thought I was done, so I thought this wasn’t something I was capable of doing to myself anymore. Much to my surprise, I wasn’t the person taking it the hardest. The person that was would be my boyfriend at the time, and he was so unbelievably upset.
I know it came from a place of deep concern. I know it’s because he cared so much about me. It even escalated to the point where one of my friends had to call him to tell him how to speak to someone who was dealing with something like this.
I’m not angry at him for his reaction. I can’t be. He was scared, and I was too. He probably thought we weren’t going to have to deal with that anymore. His reaction taught me that I can’t expect anyone to save me. It’s all on me. I have to be strong enough to pick myself back up.
I don’t remember much about what was going on at the time of this one. I just remember everything feel like it was falling apart. While I don’t like getting into the “how it happened” too much, I know this one was one where I hit my skin once, and immediately snapped out of the state I was in. I still beat myself up for the longest time over this one. I learned that small mistakes may seem like the biggest things to have ever happened. You can let minor hiccups stop you. You won’t get anywhere.
I don’t even remember what set me off. I just remember this one happened. I remember feeling defeated because I had made it two years without this happening and I had once again, truly convinced myself it would never happen again. I felt worthless. I felt like nothing could piece me back together. I spent the next day with a friend, and she helped me get back into the swing of things, and helped show me that I deserved to stay alive.
Those of you that know me know my favorite quote is Sierra Boggess’s “You are enough. You are so enough. It is unbelievable how enough you are.” This time taught me that Simply being enough is okay. I don’t have to be able to move mountains every day. I deserve to live because I am enough.
I’m going to be completely honest; I’m shocked that I made it out of the 2016-2017 school year alive when I look back. These relapses that came from it are proof that I was in a worse place that I was letting myself believe. This particular relapse came right on the heels of the PRSSA National Conference, where I had a horrible time. I wouldn’t trade the professional growth for anything and my problems stemmed merely from some internal struggles.
For the sake of honesty for world suicide prevention day, I’m thankful I came out of this one with just a relapse. I was in a bad spot. A couple days after, though, I wore an outfit with a sweater to cover the cuts on my shoulder. Not thinking, I took the sweater off in class. I started to panic when I realized, but then I let myself keep it off as an odd cry for help (I cannot stress this enough, mental illness doesn’t make sense). Nobody noticed, not even when we got up to leave and I interacted with about seven different people I consider friends (not holding this against them, I can’t even remember specifically who it was at this point). I was horrified, but then I realized, If I need help, I NEED to ask for it. I can’t wait around for somebody to notice I’m hurting.
This is another one where I’m thankful I came out of it still standing. I was getting ready for a PRSSA meeting when the world felt too heavy and I felt so suffocated. Afterward, I remember telling the current president I wouldn’t be able to make it because I couldn’t be around people. Something told me, though, that I needed to talk to somebody right away (maybe I was taking my own advice?). I quietly walked into my roommate’s room and told her what had just happened. She asked me how I was feeling, and asked what I needed. We went to Burger King and spent the rest of the evening watching YouTube videos and laughing at our high school selves. That time taught me I do have people that care about me. My friends really truly want me to be okay.
So there you have it. This was long, but I hope if you or someone you know has been hurting, you can take these lessons into your life and not have to learn them the hard way like I had to. If you need someone to talk to, I’m here. The suicide prevention lifeline is 1-800-273-8255, or if you’d prefer to text someone instead of call, you can text CONNECT to 741741. You don’t have to go through this alone.
If you let yourself be honest and heal, you can even come out stronger like I have. These times were painful, but I’m so proud of the person I’ve become. Please never forget, “You are enough. You are so enough. It is unbelievable how enough you are.” We all need to watch out for each other in this world.