After the experience with the counselor I literally had no clue what to do. It felt like no one really heard a word I said and that everything I was going through was in my head. So I pretended everything was ok. I still had contact with my ex because I was friends with a lot of people in the same group. He became increasingly cruel and abusive and I became more and more withdrawn. I hated myself. There was one girl from the group who genuinely seemed to care and she couldn’t make sense of what was happening either so we developed a deeper friendship.
We spent weekends camping at her father’s trailer and getting drunk and laughing like the naïve teenagers we were. One weekend I was puking on the river bank and she handed me her sock to wipe my face and she asked me what was going on. I couldn’t even find the words but I knew if I kept going like this more and more people would know that I was not ok. I wanted to cry but I smiled and told her I was going to be just fine.
The next weekend I was at her house this time and I found some travel bottles of whiskey and I drank more than my 90 pound body could handle. I nearly blacked out but I played it off as just a night of fun. In reality I was doing anything to erase myself. When I woke up the next morning, I knew I didn’t want to exist anymore. For all the times I had cut myself I never really contemplated death. That morning I didn’t even care. I took some aspirin at her house and said to myself, “This is how I’m going to do it.” I had read a book that you couldn’t take pills all at once because you would just throw them up so I took a few at a time. I forced myself to take a few pills every 30 minutes. By the time I went to bed that night I had taken over a full bottle of aspirin. I told my parents I loved them and I went to sleep.
About an hour later I woke up feeling nauseated and dizzy and knew something was happening. I ended up making it to the bathroom and I started throwing up. I vomited every hour for the rest of that night and woke up and got ready for school the next morning. I knew I wasn’t sick and I was so mad that I had woken up I was forcing myself to go through the routine. My mom pulled up to the school and I started crying. I told her I didn’t think I could make it through the day so she let me go in and get my assignments and I went home.
I vomited for the next three days with more and more time between, knowing it was from what I did. My parents thought I caught a bug. I missed three days of school and on the third day my friend reached out to see what was going on. She actually told me she wanted to make sure I was alive because she didn’t know what I was going to do. I spent that time sicker than I had ever been, my muscles straining, my nerves becoming damaged in my back from the effort, my throat raw and my brain vacillating between damning myself and knowing I was going to have to start over. I told myself that I had been kept alive for a reason because there was no way I should have woken up.
For two years after that experience I stopped cutting and I stopped drinking. I focused on school as an outlet. I always did well academically so it was an opportunity for me really direct my focus and take some more challenging classes. I figured if I couldn’t control what was going on around me I could focus on something that I enjoyed and that might help me figure out what I was going to do in the future—especially since I made it through all of the hell I put my body through.
I’ve seen kids in this generation expressing their opinions or talking about their difficulties and I was always inclined to brush it off as typical teenage crap. Or I found myself angry that these kids were trying to be so adult so young. It was a leftover instinct from my own trauma of being brushed aside when my mental health needed the most attention. I’ve learned that age has no bearing on experience. Sometimes youth is the best teacher. It’s a reminder as I raise my own son to always validate and try to understand his feelings no matter how I perceive the situation. I also learned that sometimes we have to be our own support system and that it is possible no matter what situation we find ourselves in. Sometimes we are meant for something bigger than we can see. It just takes some time and some clarity to bring it to light. To be continued.