(Warning: this post is extremely personal and pretty long. It’s about teen suicide, so not the happiest of topics.)
1992 – 1996
Pop quiz: Spot the girl who wanted to end her life in the above photos. Go on. Look carefully. Find the girl who was so depressed and so certain that no one would notice or care if she were gone. That it would just be a better world if she vanished from the face of it. Spot the girl who did nothing but cry and hurt and couldn’t see anything but the deep, dark, endless black hole that was eating her up from the inside.
Although that girl is pretty much the same in each and every photo, I can tell you that there’s one photo in this collage that stands out to me as one of the worst days of my life and one that I was convinced that this was the day I was going to do it. Take my life. End the pain and sadness and everything. There’s one photo up there from a day I remember SO VIVIDLY. I can almost feel the pain I was in back then just by looking at the photo. It makes my heart beat fast, my breathing become difficult and my stomach hurt. I know exactly how I was feeling that day and looking back at the photo, I can almost taste how sad I was. How desperate I was for it all to end.
The girl in the above photos thought she was ugly. Thought she was fat. FAT! Thought she looked like a boy and that no boy would ever like her. People made fun of her, often she took it extremely personally and was sure everyone hated her. She wasn’t good enough. She wasn’t smart enough. She wasn’t pretty enough.
She wasn’t ENOUGH.
In her life, from childhood to early adult-hood, she’d try to take her life a few times. She wanted so badly to escape. She was worthless. She harmed herself. She didn’t matter.
She was NOTHING.
All she wanted was for someone to notice her pain and tell her it would be ok. Tell her that she mattered.
She wanted so desperately to MATTER.
1995 – 1996
It didn’t get much better in my early 20s. Although once I hit my 20s a doctor finally realized I had some stuff going on and I got help and medication. But I still had a few scary hospital experiences under my belt and I still had scars, both inside and out.
The worst part is that no one really knew what was going on inside my head. How lonely I felt even if I was surrounded by people. No one knew how bullied I felt (and was at times). My mother knew. My mother was my confidant. Much of my childhood I felt like my mother was my only friend, but even so. She was my mother and mother’s can only do so much to help their children because children are children and need to feel some of that love from their peers and not just their mothers. So many children don’t even have the blessing that I did of having an AMAZING mother. If it weren’t for her support while I went through a lot of this I don’t know if I would have made it through those years and be writing this post now.
Teen suicide needs to STOP.
Each and every time I read a news story about another pre-teen or teen suicide my heart drops down to my feet. I feel like I’m on a roller coaster that has plummeted down an endless rabbit hole. I can’t breathe.
If the internet and social media had been around when I was suffering my own demons, I don’t know if I would have made it out alive. I honestly don’t. I don’t even know how to cope with the internet now at times. I am thankful that I am not a popular person (as in celebrity, not in any other context) because I know I’d get hate comments or email or tweets, etc. It happens. And no matter how tough you are and how much you know to expect that sort of stuff, I can only imagine that it is STILL hurtful and hard to ignore.
Haters gonna hate. It’s the way of the world. Unfortunate but true.
But right now there are so, so many teens and pre-teens out there who are hurting so extremely that they won’t hear the help that’s being offered them. I know that because I never once saw what was right in front of my face when I was growing up – friends. True friends. Friends I still have to this day and if I had only just opened up to them even a little, it might have helped relieve some of the pressure from the weight on my soul.
The bullying and slut-shaming and the teen rape and the everything that is going on right now in the world of teenagers… it is breaking my heart. You can say “It gets better” to people in those situations until you’re blue in the face and they won’t all hear it. Some will, many won’t hear it at all. Why should they believe you? When you’re 13, 14, 15, 16… your entire world is RIGHT THERE IN THAT MOMENT. There is nothing else. There is no future. There is only the RIGHT NOW. And sometimes, the past. The past that will come back to haunt you again and again until you can’t shut it out. It’s all you see when you close your eyes. It’s all you hear, your mistakes, your faults, the laughter. It’s everything and all-consuming.
I used to worry so much about other people. What they were thinking. If they liked me. If they hated me. (I was always convinced they hated me over liking me.) It took so long for me to change those voices. It took so long, a lot of work and some really wonderful people to make me believe I was worthy of love of others.
More importantly that I was worthy of loving myself. That is the hardest lesson to learn.
So many of these teens probably feel as though they are alone. Many of them probably are. There’s only so much you can do to help someone through cyberspace. I wish I could reach out and magically help every single one of those lonely souls. I wish I could tell them that I get it. I was there. I almost wasn’t there but I was lucky, I didn’t die.
I didn’t die and it was ok. It was OK.
It took a lot of work and a lot of forcing myself to trust in others and myself and I stopped caring so much what other people said. Whether it was true or just in my head. I began living for myself, not for others. And almost magically, things did get better. They did.
This is me today. Literally today. This is how I wanted to dress when I was in high school but was way too scared of what other people thought to even think twice about it. In fact people who dressed like this secretly terrified me because I thought they would beat me up. I have neon pink hair, am tattooed and pierced and were the occasional skull on my person but I’m a very polite and shy person. I am shy. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I go to bed by 9pm on a fairly regular person and you know what? I did all of this when I was 15, too but people made fun of me for it. I don’t like going to bars or clubbing. I’m not mean and evil and I won’t beat you up (although I do occasionally feel like kicking people in the shins when they tick me off.)
I wear the above when I go to my real job. My grown-up, professional job. I assist an important person on a daily basis. I manage things. I am not filthy rich but I have a job that I’ll bet people don’t think I have when they see me on the bus or on the street. You know what? I don’t care. I’m happy.
That one word was a lie when I was a teen. Happiness was a lie people told you to try to make you feel better. It wasn’t real.
But it is. And you find it when you stop listening to all the noise outside your head. When you stop listening to the noise INSIDE your head. If they bully you… ignore them. It’s easy to say and VERY hard to do. VERY. HARD. I know it is. Please believe me when I say I know. I couldn’t do it back then but one day it just seemed to happen. Things were quieter.
Because that noise? That noise is lying to you. It’s telling you that you aren’t worth it and you are. Mistakes you make when you’re 15? You’re supposed to make those mistakes. You are FIFTEEN. You will not always feel the way you feel. That sounds like a lie, too, but I assure you it is the honest truth.
Shut out the noise. Listen to the deeper voice inside of you. The one that wonders if you really are better than the people you are trying to impress. The voice that wonders if you are good enough or pretty enough. The voice that wonders if you matter.
Because THAT voice? THAT voice is telling you the truth and it just needs to speak up a little louder.
Please don’t kill yourself. I have been there. I have survived it. I have SEEN it happen first hand and it’s just a horrible, horrible feeling to see someone’s life splatter on the ground in front of you.
Live your life. Proud and loud. Embrace your quirks, your uniqueness. Embrace it and flaunt it. You’ll end up happier in the end and those that are trying to knock you down will probably end up knocked down as you rise up from the ashes.
I have scars but that’s all they are now. Scars. The wounds have closed. I survived. I made it. And I’m worth it.
And so are you.