Author: Valery B.
Not too long ago, I stood by my bathroom window, my head touching the cold glass. My eyes were staring into the grey mist of the world, while tears streamed down my cheeks. The moment was marked by silence. Nobody saw me. Nobody heard me. I was standing and crying – as I had been countless times within the past year; however, this time, it was different. This time, the sadness in my heart had overweighed the happiness I had, or more so, the happiness I had left. I was suddenly overcome with a desperate desire – a desire for death.
In the past year, death had been on my mind periodically, in momentary and fleeting lapses. I was aware of its presence. I knew of the temporary problems that it would fix – or so it convinced me to believe. I recognized that it would give me the attention I never quite had enough of from my family. I surely knew it would give me attention from my peers, who I thought did not care about me, who perhaps would not even notice me gone.
What constantly stopped me from acting on my ideation was the fear of death itself, knowing I would have to endure great pain to reach the final destination. I was scared of every method of death, so I stayed away. I kept doing what I did on the daily: wake up, go to school, come home, lock myself in my bedroom, cry, go to sleep. I would sit in the dark for hours, crying because I felt so alone and isolated. I would turn to food as a coping mechanism, either restricting or binge eating, both of which triggered massive relapses in the anorexia and bulimia I had worked diligently to defeat. I would be disgusted with myself, furious that I could not be the person I once was. More so, I was angry at the entire world for leaving me. I was unable to tell that in reality I was the one shutting everyone out.
In school, my grades began to drop. For someone who had excelled her entire life – never earning below an A average in a class -, this was a miserable feat. I began feeling disjointed from my studies, unable to concentrate on anything but sadness, food, and isolation. Within this mix, lay an underlying anger at my classmates; I was furious for never being included in their activities, for never being asked out to lunch, for never being called to hang out on weekends, for never being spoken with in classes. Slowly, I began removing myself from school. I starting missing multiple days a week, going to the doctor each time to get medical excuses. I stopped making up the work I was missing and eventually stopped caring altogether. This was when my suicidal ideations were at their peak.
Going back to that time, not too long ago, as I stood by my bathroom window, accepting my demise and improbable future, I suddenly and unfortunately realized that I was no longer scared of death. I was hopeless. My high school years were coming to an end, and the only memories I could account for were of anorexia and bulimia, depression, hospitalization, lonesomeness, anger, pain, tears, misery. Failure. I could not remember the last time I went out with my friends. I could not remember the last time I had friends. My own family seemed to had given up on me, no longer taking an interest into why I was crying or yelling or isolating. My school days were marked by a fake smile, whose authenticity was questioned by nobody. I had given up on Need to bEAT, an eating disorder awareness campaign I started, and I could no longer even help people who were struggling with mental illnesses – something I became known for in the past year. With these painful facts, I went into my bedroom, pulled out my phone, and opened Google. In the search bar, I typed, least painful way to commit suicide.
Not long after, I stopped coming to school. With a failed suicide attempt, I could not bare the continuing pain that came from being around classmates who did not even notice or take interest in me. I thought of dropping out of school completely, of not even going to college. How could I continue my education when I did not even want to continue my life? I knew I had failed, not just at suicide, but also at everything I thought I would accomplish: finishing school with straight A’s, making great friends, involving myself in school activities – the most revered of which was junior prom, an event that I felt too depressed and alone to attend –, and making my parents proud. The latter was the most devastating for me to assign failure to. I wanted my parents to be proud to call me their daughter, to reap benefits from my accomplishments, to be happy with the person I had become. But, I had become a miserable nobody, and I could tell of my parents’ heightened awareness of this truth.
Although I wanted to put my entire life on pause, I decided to try to get better. My primary motivation was graduation – being able to graduate high school with my class. I got evaluated for a treatment program at High Focus and spent about one month there. Although it did not help me as much as I had hoped it would, it gave me a heightened awareness that everyone – from the seemingly happiest of the bunch to the evidently sad – had problems that they dealt with, problems that were never too small to conceal. I learned that if something bothered me, then it was important to share. I realized that no concern or difficulty of mine needed to be validated as plausible, for someone, in this grandiose world of 7.4 billion people, was dealing with the same exact thing.
After a month of treatment, I spent a month traveling in the south. I was invited to interview for scholar programs at several colleges, each of which I spent three to four days at. Although I felt like the weight of my failures disqualified me from program considerations, I decided to visit the schools anyway, hoping to challenge myself with de-isolating. I am very grateful for pushing myself to do this because I not only was selected as a scholar at Emory University and granted a full-ride to attend, but also I met many amazing individuals and made some great friends who liked me for me! I got to experience college life, and for the first time in over four years, I felt like the outgoing, enthused, talkative and optimistic person I had been through childhood and early adolescence. I felt like my life had meaning again. I felt my authentic self coming back.
It is April 17, 2017, and I have now returned to school to complete my senior year.
Despite the difficulty of adjusting from a two-month medical leave, I feel a rejuvenation in respect to the person I once was. I am becoming less and less afraid to speak my mind, to ask someone to hang out, to chat with someone new as opposed to waiting for them to make the first move. I am discovering a love for learning and studying that has been dormant for months. I feel myself craving interpersonal conversation and interaction; suddenly, I want to go out and spend time with people, to gossip, to hear and take a genuine interest in what they have to say.
Am I better? Yes. Am I cured? Absolutely not. Every day is its own challenge. There are times when all I want to do is leave school and go home to be alone. There are times when I still think about suicide, and times when the part of my brain that is still sick tells me that it is my best option; however, I am now aware that death is not an option. It is never the answer to problems that, at their very cores, are temporary. Through the college programs I attended, I have now become aware of the great personality traits I am capable of awakening by striving towards recovery and letting myself be vulnerable and trusting towards others. I feel like I have been given another chance, not to achieve greatness or perfection, but rather to achieve balance, fulfillment, happiness and love. Sometimes, more often than not, this awareness is exactly what I need to get me through a bad day.