When I was 22 years old I tried to kill myself.
I was crying on my knees in a communal bathroom and remember breaking a razor and slicing my wrists. There was a lot of blood. Sometimes in my dreams I still see the red pools on the floor around me. I remember shaking in shock that this time I had actually done it. After years of toying with the idea and overdosing on tylenol or swerving my car recklessly, I had actually done it. I felt panicked but was glued to the floor. I thought of no one. And things went dark.
I woke up in a hospital room the following day. Alive.
Let me back up a bit.
As a child, things were no walk in the park. My family was dirt poor and broken. There was violence in the home I grew up in. For many years I was ashamed to discuss this because I was dealing with years of family secrets and shame. I didn’t want anyone to think of me as less than. I was hurt as a child. However, I was also loved. It’s not fair for me to gloss over the good in my childhood. I loved singing in pageants and spending Saturday’s at my MaMa’s house. But there were days I feared my Mom would be killed. Or things even worse would happen to me.
Things improved around middle school despite my frizzy hair and constant awkwardness of my life.
Then, my Daddy killed himself my sophomore year of high school.
Feelings of blame, shame, anger, hatred, disgust, abandonment, insecurity, and guilt consumed me.
I became overwhelmingly depressed for years to come.
I battled with depression. Long and hard.
I also had good days. Days I smiled. Days I thought I could do this. Days I moved forward.
But the bad days. They hung heavy. They became me.
I was unfocused.
I was barely existing.
I was more insecure than I feel that words could ever justify.
My existence depended on other people.
If they loved me enough. If they cared about me enough. If they texted me. Then I would live. If they didn’t I would swallow as many pills as I could get my hands on and try to sleep. Hoping for a long, dark sleep.
And then I hit rock bottom.
I joined the military to escape everything. I was shipped off to basic training and 9 days later I slit my wrists in a bathroom with blue walls. This is the day that changed everything for me.
I spent 23 days in the hospital. TWENTY THREE.
I got on medication.
Resisted treatment. Then began to open up.
I let myself feel all the emotions I had pushed aside all those years.
I began to heal.
And I decided I needed a change. I wanted to live. I deserved to live.
Much like an addict, I decided this chaos had to stop.
The victim act.
The poor me spectacle.
It had to stop.
And it did. I became determined.
Even though I hid my suicide attempt from most of the people in my life (who so graciously believed my cover-up story surrounding my medical discharge from the military), I was empowered. I knew I needed to work in mental health. I knew I had a purpose in life.
Over a decade later (don’t try and add up my age, please) and my life is far from perfect but it is absolutely perfect to me. Perfectly imperfect.
I am married to the love of my life. The only person who knows every, single secret that I spent years hiding and loves me anyways.
I have the most wonderful son. With the brightest blue eyes in the world. He is so worthy of life.
I have my work. Where I’m able to empathize to great lengths. I’m able to use my experience to truly understand how hard life can be but also know how beautiful it can be.
So, if you’re like 22 year old me. Know you’re not alone. LIFE IS HARD,
but it can also be beautiful.
So, so, so, so beautiful.
I thank God daily for my second chance. Not everyone gets that.
I wonder if we had found my Daddy earlier what would things be like. What if we had barreled down his bedroom door and released all the poisonous gas that would fill his body and take him from us. Would he feel the same way? Would he say THANK GOD. THANK GOD I GET A SECOND CHANCE.
I like to think he would.
Because we could have proven him wrong. He would have held a grandchild in the future. One with big, bright blue eyes who giggles with all the joy of the world.
Don’t do it.
A second chance isn’t guaranteed.
Call 988 if you need someone to talk to.
No one else can play your part.