I suppose this is my story. I think I’m doing this more for me than for anything else. I need to just get it all off my chest somehow.
I’ve struggled with mental health issues since I was 11 or 12. All through middle school and high school I was depressed and I hated myself. Things got better junior year of high school, but senior year I moved to another place and a different school. That was one of the worst years of my life. I was so depressed the entire year. I spent almost all the time that I wasn’t in school in my room, alone. I had barely any friends and I wasn’t living with my family at the time, I was living with a friend’s family and my relationship with them was rocky at best. I skipped class often and counted down the days until I could go off to college. I was so relieved to get out of that place. All the positive progress that I thought I had made during junior year was destroyed senior year of high school. I was mentally, emotionally, and socially damaged from that year. The summer after senior year I was back with my family, and things were good again. It was so nice to be back with my family, to not have to worry about school. I was nervous about going off to college, but I was excited.
Eventually the time came to go to college. I drove out to school with my parents and got moved into my apartment. It was a really cool experience getting to live truly on my own and to have complete independence over my time and my activities. I made a lot of new friends and things were really looking up. By the time October rolled around, I felt on top of the world. I loved my college, the city it was in, my friends, I had good classes, I liked my new job that I had on campus. But then, in October, I experience some pretty discouraging experiences that made me feel worthless and made me hate myself. I became friends with someonel who we’ll call John, during October because he understood those experiences that I was having and was kind and wise and helpful. He was also a few years older than me, so it was cool to have an older friend who seemed more mature and cool. We became very close friends very quickly. I ended up sleeping over at John’s place most nights just because we liked hanging out so much and it just became easier. But late nights staying up, hanging out with John and other friends, as well as an increase in the difficulty level in my classes left me feeling depressed, low-energy, and unmotivated. I started skipping most of my classes in favor of just staying in bed or doing whatever I wanted. The worse that I did in my classes, the worse I felt and the less I tried. I became more anxious and insecure.
John, who also struggles with pretty severe anxiety and depression, began to become more needy and demanding of my time. I never saw my other friends because he used his mental health as a reason to stop me. He manipulated me into not dating a girl that I was interested in because he didn’t want me to spend less time with him. But through all of this, I was still totally onboard with being his close friend, and I didn’t even realize everything that he was doing as it was happening. He would act cold and mean to me anytime I didn’t do something exactly as he wanted me to. And I wanted to be his friend so bad and I was so insecure and anxious. I would do anything to not upset him. I saw my other friends less and less. I became more and more depressed. As the fall semsester came to a close, I was doing absolutely terrible in all of my classes. On Finals Week, I took my finals and did okay on them, but it didn’t have too much effect on my grades. I was feeling so discouraged about one of my classes that I just didn’t go to take the final. I failed that class. The rest of my grades were all in the D range. I felt terrible.
Towards the end of the fall semester I decided to move out of my apartment and move in with John. Coming back from winter break, I had decided to get a different job for various reasons, working at a restaurant. I started working immediately when I got back from winter break. I wanted to save a lot of money, so I was working 30+ hours a week in addition to school and homework. My anxiety and depression had gotten even worse over winter break, and with the added stress of my job and school, I was having a panic attack almost every day. I never smiled, never felt happy, and I always had that terrible, heavy weight on my chest. I hated my job with a burning passion. The hours I worked were long and lonely. My boss was alright, but my coworkers were mean and cold. After only 3 weeks of working there, during a shift, I decided that I was done after that shift. I hung my uniform up in the break room and I left to go home. A few hours later, I texted my boss and told her that I was really sorry, but other demands had taken over my life, and that I wouldn’t be able to continue working there any longer. I felt so distraught and panicked after sending that text that I shut off my phone and didn’t look at it for hours, because I was so scared of what she would say. The next day I finally checked my phone. My boss had sent an angry reply, upset that I had just ditched on her like that and demanding that I call her and give her an explanation. I freaked out and replied that I had had a death in the family and that I had to return home immediately and drop out of my classes. I panicked after sending that. I couldn’t believe that I had lied like that. Over the next 3 months, whenever I was walking around in public or on campus I wore a hoodie so that no one from my old job could recognize me and I avoided seeing any of them around at all costs.
During this time, things with John absolutely deteriorated. He was incredibly anxious and depressed all the time and he became very mean and manipulative. I also was not the nicest person during this time, but things were often started by him. He would get upset and act sullen if I hung out with anyone but him, but would get upset when I tried to talk to him about it. He used his mental health as a tool to manipulate me from being friends with anyone else. Of course I wanted to help him, but the way he went about it was absolutely terrible. He and I fought almost daily, and it made things in our apartment extremely tense and uncomfortable.
On top of everything, I had applied to a very important program for my education and been rejected, and I had been compulsively spending as a result of my mental health. I had blown through my savings and I had barely any money. Additionally, I was failing all of my classes. I felt like such a failure. I felt like I had nothing going for me. I was really banking on being accepted into that program. I felt terrible about spending all that money, and I barely had enough money for groceries. The University that I had been accepted to was a competitive school, and I had been very proud that I had been accepted. Now I felt like I was a disgrace and that I didn’t belong there. Additionally, I was still struggling with the same thing as in October (it is an addiction) and that made me feel terrible as well. My relationship with my parents was rocky because they were upset that I had quit my job and blown through all of my money because they were helping me out a little bit financially already. I felt I had disappointed them and failed them.
Around this time (end of January), I started experiencing suicidal thoughts. Because of everything that I have shared above, I felt like I had no safe space, no future, no potential, no point. I felt like I had no friends and no one to turn to. I had invested so much in my friendship with John, and that just ended up crashing and burning and isolating me from all my other friends. John and I continued living together, but arguments were frequent and upsetting. I wanted to move out so bad, but I felt like John would do everything he could to ruin my life if I did move out.
A couple of weeks into February, it all came to ahead. I felt like I was going to explode from sadness and anger at my situation. I took my pocketknife and I cut a few slashes into my wrist. Self-harm was something that I had struggled with when I was 12 or 13, but I had never done it again since then. But the pain was so bad that I felt that was the only way to make me feel some relief, to take my mind off things. And it worked, sort of. But in the end it just made things worse. The cutting progressed. I stopped cutting myself on the wrist because it was too visible. I started cutting myself on my upper arm. Eventually, I discovered that one of my roommates had razor blades in his drawer in the bathroom, and I stole a couple. I started cutting myself on my thighs and my stomach and a couple of times on my wrist. I did it when I felt so angry or so sad or when I made a mistake and I shut down. Everytime I did it, I hated myself more, and the more I hated myself the more I did it.
Things did not get better as March and April went by. My relationship with John continued to get worse, and I hated him more and more as time went on. He continued to treat me like complete trash, and then give some fake apology and act like nothing had happened. I got sick of it.
In January, I started seeing a psychiatrist and trying out medicines for my mental health. The process of trying out all these medicines was exhausting and draining. I had to try a few that made me feel even worse before I finally found a pretty good combination in mid-March. That medicine helped with all of my mental health problems, except for feeling depressed. I felt so depressed, more depressed than ever. None of my problems were getting better. In fact, most of them were getting worse. I felt more alone, I was still failing my classes, things with John were terrible, I had a falling out with my best friend from growing up, my relationship with my parents was very rocky, I had no money. One day, my dad called me after having looked at my bank account and seen that all I had in my savings account (where just months prior I had $6,000) was $23. He told me that I was going nowhere. That I was ruining things for myself. Yeah. I knew that already.
In April I started seeing a therapist, which helped a little bit. But I didn’t really feel like I could be completely honest with her. I was terrified to tell her about the self-harm or the suicidal thoughts.
On May 18th of that year, I finally hit a breaking point. I had fantasized about killing myself, and how I would do it for months. Things were never getting better. It felt inevitable. I was going to kill myself. I started getting my things in order. I wrote a suicide note. I got all my personal belongs all sorted out so that it would be easy for my family to take care of my things once I was gone.
My cousin was in town on May 18th visiting one of her friends, and she and I went out to lunch together. I had felt so terrible in the morning, but I never saw this cousin so I got myself out of bed to go to lunch with her. I was amazed at how fake I was. At how I was acting like everything was fine when it was so far from fine. She asked me if everything was okay because even my superb acting was not enough to cover up the dark places my mind was in. I, of course, told her everything was fine. We actually had a nice conversation over lunch. I thought maybe things could be ok? But when I got home John was extremely mean to me, and I had a bunch of texts from various people reminding me of everything going wrong in my life. I was reminded that no, things could not be ok. John and all my other roommates had something going on that afternoon, so I was home alone.
I finished typing up my suicide note and I saved it to a USB Stick. With a feeling of such sadness because my life had been such a waste, but a feeling of relief that it was finally going to end, and a sense of that inevitability I went into the bathroom with just the USB stick and a razor blade and closed the door behind me. I didn’t lock it. Now that the moment itself was actually here, I felt even sadder and I began to feel sick to my stomach. Could I actually go through with this? The biologically survival programmed part of my mind screamed NO! But the “real” me said yes. [I CUT THIS PART OUT BECAUSE IT WAS A LITTLE TOO GRAPHIC AND DESCRIBED THE METHOD TOO IN DEPTH] Basically, I tried to slit my wrists, and only got to one of them because of the blood and panic. Eventually, the bleeding stopped enough that I could put some bandages on it and clean it. I was still shaking from what I had done. Even then, part of me felt like a screw-up. I got scared. I panicked. I was such a screw-up that I couldn’t even kill myself right. I stayed in my room and stared at the ceiling until I eventually fell asleep.
The next day, May 19th, I woke up to my arm throbbing, and it had stained the sleeve of the long-sleeve shirt I had put on. I changed the bandages and then got ready to go to class because I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t shower because I was scared of it getting infected or of it hurting more. Plus, the large number of bandages in the garbages in my apartment were starting to get suspicious to my roommates. John and I had class at the same time that day, so we started walking to class together. I still felt absolutely terrible and depressed. Now I just felt completely numb as well. I didn’t say anything as we walked. Eventually he brought something up (I don’t remember what) and he said some terrible things about me, and basically told me that I was a terrible person and a friend. I told him to screw off and I turned around and went back to the apartment. I lay on my bed and I cried. I looked at the USB stick that had my suicide note on it, and I decided with renewed determination that I was done, I was going to end it. I lay on my bed and I tried to kill myself again, the same way as before. This time was even worse/more serious than before, but my hand was shaking so much that I wasn’t able to do significant enough damage. Once again, I laid on my arm with a shirt over it for a long long time, waiting for it to stop bleeding. I felt terrible again. I had tried even harder today, and I still was just a screw-up. Now I had to live with these 2 giant cuts down my arms and no one could know about it. I determined that I would have to wear long sleeves pretty much indefinitely. Living in Georgia in the summer, that would be very hard.
Eventually I told my roommates and my parents and my family. They were loving and supportive. I found a medicine that helped with the depression, and slowly the suicidal thoughts went away. I finally moved out of that apartment with John and I did eventually get into that program at school. I worked hard and I saved my money back up. I did better in my classes the following semesters. I think the only reason that things got better was the fact that I hit total rock bottom, and it scared me. I knew that something had to change immediately. Having the support of my friends and family, and having a medicine combination that truly worked saved my life. Things truly did get better. I still struggle with mental health and I’m still on medicines. I still have suicidal thoughts every now and then. But overall, things have gotten so much better. I still have 2 big scars down my arms, and I get lots of stares and questions, but, in a way I have learned to almost love them. They are a symbol that I went through something (and am still going through it in many ways) so hard, but I kept pushing and I’m alive today. They’re a reminder that I’m alive and that life is precious and fragile.