I was always happy with the way things were in my life. I was really close with my family, I had a handful of good friends, I did well in school, I had a strong faith, I was very involved in playing soccer, and I was in the marching band. I was also a part of Operation Snowball, a drug, alcohol and suicide prevention organization for teens.
A few weeks before my sophomore year began, things started to change. My twenty-one-year-old sister, Lisa, began dating Chad, a guy she had fallen head-over-heels for. Lisa glowed when she talked about him, and I absolutely loved seeing her so happy. Chad was struggling financially though, and relied a lot on Lisa to help. So, after a lot of having to persuade our parents, Chad moved into the basement of our house. It was just supposed to be a temporary place for him to stay until he was able to get back on his feet.
Tension grew pretty quickly at home. My mom, Tyler, my twenty-two-year-old brother, and Cece, my thirteen-year-old sister, really didn’t like Chad, and they all did their best to avoid him. My dad tolerated him though, and did what he could to help Chad get himself together.
Things got very stressful, very fast. Lisa and Chad fought constantly, and often my parents would get involved. It seemed like there was never a peaceful moment in the house anymore.
Often after a fight, Lisa would come into my bedroom and tell me everything. The vulgar names Chad called her, the awful things he accused her of. It devastated me to see how much Chad hurt her. I did my best to comfort Lisa, always trying to convince her everything would turn out okay.
I knew Lisa needed someone to talk to about everything that was going on, and I loved that it was me that she trusted. Hearing all that she had to say was too much for me to handle though, except I knew that I couldn’t tell her that because I didn’t want to lose the relationship that we had. Everything Lisa told me, ate at me. I felt like everything in my life that once seemed so perfect was now falling apart, and I didn’t have any control over it. I felt so broken and lonely, but I didn’t want to be a burden to my family and friends, so I kept what I was feeling to myself.
I wanted to be strong, for Lisa, for my family, but it was all too much for me. I didn’t ever admit it though, instead I just learned how to fake a smile.
I couldn’t focus in school anymore. I started losing interest in my classes and the few friends I had. I didn’t look forward to soccer or band practice the way that I used to. Each day became a struggle, and I hated every second of it. I began sleeping a lot. One, two, three hour naps almost daily. It was the only escape from the Hell that my life had become. It wasn’t long before my mom noticed how much I was sleeping. She asked me multiple times what was going on, but I didn’t want to stress her out with my problems because I knew how stressed she already was, so I lied and said nothing. It wasn’t just my mom I lied to though. I lied to my dad when he asked me everyday how I was doing. I lied to Lisa, Cece, and Tyler. I lied to my teachers, a few friends from school, friends from my soccer team, from Snowball. I was ashamed and embarrassed. I wasn’t the kind of person anyone expected to be feeling depressed. So I lied to everyone, and told them all that I was fine.
One day I saw that Lisa had bruises on her cheek and body. They weren’t too noticeable unless you were looking for them, but after I saw the first one, the rest were obvious. I tried to convince myself that it was nothing, but I couldn’t help but think that Chad was beating her. About a week later I finally got up the courage to ask her where they all came from. I cried so hard that I could barely get my words out to ask her if it was Chad that inflicted them upon her. Lisa looked at me and laughed, and then she cried. She told me that that was a ridiculous thought, and that she would never put up with a guy that treated her that way. She claimed that she and Chad were messing around, and she fell while he was tickling her. At first I wasn’t sure if she was telling me the truth, but she trusted me with so much that I knew there was no way she could be lying to me. So I believed her.
I was stuck inside a world that I absolutely hated, and all I wanted was to be left alone. I was sick of everyone and everything. I started isolating myself as much as I possibly could. I sat by myself on the bus on the way to school, and got off six stops early on the way home so I could walk alone. I started writing about how much I hated my life, and how upset I felt all the time. I skipped lunch to be alone in the library to write. I cried several times a day, sometimes in the middle of class, or at night until I finally fell asleep. I stopped praying. I stopped participating in school, and I rarely made an effort to talk to any of my friends.
It was the end of November when suicide first crossed my mind. I hated the idea of it, because I knew how much I was personally impacted by the suicides of my classmates Dylan and Quincee. Except with each passing day, suicide sounded better and better. The little things began to add up; from all the fights at home, to being picked last for a team in gym class. A friend mentioning that I was having a bad hair day, being the last person in class without a partner, or being ignored by someone that I used to be so close with. These stupid things that never even used to phase me, were now becoming another reason why I didn’t need to be alive.
I became obsessed with the thought of killing myself, and I wrote about it every day. During lunch, in class, in the middle of the night, I wrote about how amazing it would be to finally end all of my pain. I didn’t want to be suicidal, but I felt so hopeless. A little part of me wanted to get help, but I was too scared. I was sure that if I told someone I was suicidal, they would tell me I was being selfish, that I shouldn’t feel that way. I knew it was wrong, and I wanted more than anything for things to go back to the way that they used to be, but I couldn’t stop my mind from thinking everything it did. Everything that was wrong seemed so huge and consuming, and I couldn’t see past the moment I was stuck in.
By December I was sure I couldn’t go on much longer, and I knew suicide was the answer. I decided that I wanted to have the holidays to say goodbye to my family one last time, and I knew the excitement of Christmas and New Year’s would have worn off by early January. I chose the day after my grandma’s birthday, Thursday, January 6th, 2011. I knew I would be home alone after school for a good half-hour, which gave me plenty of time. It wasn’t a huge concern to me on how I died, I just wanted something sort of clean and easy, so I planned on swallowing a dangerous mix of pills. As disgusting as it sounds, I was so excited for the day to come that I could hardly wait that last month. I was scared that my parents would find out, so I made sure to take my notebook where I wrote about killing myself everywhere with me.
Chad moved to Lousianna in the middle of December, and things got a little better at home. I still hated everything else about my life, especially school. By the end of December I felt like I had nobody, and I was more than ready to be done with it all. A few days after Christmas, a friend I hadn’t talked to in a few months invited me over to her house. It was my first invitation out in a long time, so I accepted. When I got there, she said she knew something was going on, and wanted to know what. I told her almost everything, and it felt so good to get it all out. I lied though, and said that I had suicidal feelings, but assured her that things were getting better, and I wasn’t going to kill myself. When I returned to school though, things fell back into the usual routine, and I felt like she was ignoring me and didn’t really care. All of this added more confirmation to my thought that nobody would miss me if I was gone.
On January 6th, I went to school like a normal day. When I got there, a different girl that I hadn’t talked to in months asked if I was going to the Snowball meeting that night. I told her that I was busy, but she begged me to go with her to the meeting. I’m not really sure why I agreed to go with her t instead of going through with my plan to kill myself, but I did.
At the meeting, was Ms. Lewis, the mother of a boy who had committed suicide less than a week before. She spoke to us about suicide, and I cried at that meeting more than I’ve ever cried at once. I felt like she was talking directly to me, and I needed to hear every word she said. Ms. Lewis gave me an ounce of something that I hadn’t had in months: hope.
I made a promise to myself that night that I would try and get help one more time before I made another suicide plan, but it was a long time before I actually did anything. For weeks, I fell back into the same routine of sleeping, writing, and just not caring about anything. I started cutting myself, I didn’t know how else to cope. I knew it was wrong to cut, but after the first time, I craved it. It’s disgusting, but I loved watching the way the blood ran out of my ankle and wrist. I finally felt so in control of something. It didn’t matter to me what I used; a razor, scissors, or anything else sharp. It felt so good to forget about everything for a moment and be consumed in the physical pain. I wanted to hide it from my family and people at school, so I would cover my scars with make-up, jewelry band-aids, or clothing. The last thing I wanted was for someone to see my scars and think I was crazy.
In March, I attended a retreat through Operation Snowball, and it was there that I finally broke down. I chose to get help for myself by telling an adult about what had been going on for the last eight months. Finally opening up was the hardest, best choice I have ever made. My parents and school counselor found out after the retreat ended. Ms. Stern contacted Suicide Prevention Services, and I went through depression screening. My parents and I decided it would be best for me to begin counseling with Suicide Prevention Services, and so I started seeing a counselor every week. My mom brought me on my first visit, but I found that I had a hard time being honest with her in the room. For the rest of my sessions, my mom or dad would wait for me while I talked to my counselor, and then the three of us would talk for a few minutes in the end. It was difficult to have to go back and work through everything that caused me to be so depressed, and it took a lot of time, but I slowly made progress.
I hit a few bumps in the road, the biggest happening in May. Lisa moved down to Louisiana to be with Chad, and having her gone was very overwhelming. A few weeks later, she came home with a black eye, bruised cheek and ear, after Chad was arrested for beating her. He was convicted with two felonies, and served time in prison.
I continued counseling for about a year. I still struggle with depression, but I’m able to manage my feelings and cope in healthier ways because of all the help I received in counseling. I still write about things that bother me, pray about them, or talk to my siblings and parents. I have an easier time taking a step back from a situation, and looking at how much whatever I’m stressed about really matters in the big picture. Some days are more of a struggle for me than others, but I have so many resources, most importantly my family, Suicide Prevention Services, and Operation Snowball, that I always find a way to make it through. I still get urges to cut myself, but I’m overcoming that awful desire. I’ve found that the most effective ways to ease my desire to cut are to go running, or watch a movie or simply spend time with the people who love me most.
It helps to set goals for yourself. Doing this gives me something to work towards, and remember that the pain I feel right now won’t always be here. I want to be a radiologist someday, and I keep that in mind. I keep myself busy, working two jobs, taking classes at Waubonsee, spending time with my family and boyfriend. I’ve learned that as much as I’d like to, I can’t take on all of my problems alone. I ask for help when I need it, and I’m not ashamed to admit that. I have depression, but that doesn’t define me. I have grown so much in the last two years, and that’s something that never would have happened if I didn’t get help. I know how blessed I am to be alive, and I am happy with myself. In my darkest, and weakest of moments, I always remember that I was given this life because I am strong enough to live it.