“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”
– Psalm 147:3
It’s an extremely sensitive, heavy subject that I’ve been debating about touching on for a while now. This is definitely a difficult post to write, but it is oh so necessary. Too often I’m seeing or hearing about adolescents and even adults who take their own lives. That breaks my heart beyond belief.
Why? Because I’ve been there. I am there. I have felt those feelings of wanting to end my own life. It is the scariest feeling in this world. Instead of continuing to silence myself about this topic, I’ve decided to share my story.
I was fourteen years old when I first contemplated suicide. I was a freshman in high school, and I was getting bullied severely. It wasn’t physical bullying, but verbal. The kind that I feel is the hardest to deal with.
It all started when I decided to befriend another quiet, introverted, and intelligent soul like myself. People had been making fun of her and her lifestyle since 7th grade – myself included. I’m ashamed to admit that now. Hurting someone in order to fit in with the crowd, to fit in with my so-called “friends.” Ick.
After some time of getting to know this girl, I discovered that there was absolutely nothing wrong with her. She didn’t party, didn’t compromise her values – or her body – for a one night stand with a boy. She didn’t hurt others in order to lift herself up. She was a straight A student who knew who she was and stood boldly in her confidence.
We’ve lost contact since the good old days of high school, but back then, she really was a beautiful person on the inside and out.
Slowly, but surely we became friends – which meant that I was now part of the “freak show duo” as we came to be known. Every morning I would walk into school to hear a crazy rumor about me that my former “friends” were spreading. I’d find little notes inside my locker that reminded me of how “weird” I was.
I’d receive instant messages from my classmates making empty threats to “beat me up in the parking lot.” I’d log onto Facebook and see my profile picture all “colored” up and spread on my classmates’ public pages. I was called ugly, fat, a dyke…pretty much every cruel name under the sun.
I had the honor of having old, beat up cars named after me. My classmates would frequently pass around pictures of their cars all decorated and captioning them “trying to make Allie look girly,” “dressing up Allie to make her pretty.” They said it was no easy task.
Every day felt like survival of the fittest for me. Everyone told me to ignore the hateful comments of my peers, and I tried. Hard. But, the more that I didn’t stand up for myself, the more I pretended not to hear what they were saying about me, the more they did it.
The hatred I felt toward them burned so deep. The thought of seeing those people made me sick to my stomach each morning. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. My self-esteem was gone. I had nervous breakdowns. I would sob into my mother’s arms after school.
I became severely depressed, dejected, and hopeless. I was rejected, lonely, hurt, and I didn’t want to live anymore. I didn’t want to have to deal with my peers anymore. I wanted to escape, and I wanted to escape badly. That’s when the suicidal thoughts began rushing in my mind like a flood.
One evening, when my parents weren’t home, I paced back and forth with a bottle of pills in my hand. I was too afraid to physically harm myself, so I figured that was the best option. I wrote out a note to my family, apologizing for who I was and how much pain I caused them. I apologized for being abnormal.
And then….I cried. Big, heavy sobs. Because I realized that I didn’t want to end my life. I didn’t want to die. I tore out the note and threw it away.
When I finally told my parents how I was feeling, it was like a weight was lifted off of my shoulders. Granted, they were scared. At that time in my life, the only people who knew about my suicidal thoughts were my parents and grandparents. And thank God they did. They protected me when I couldn’t protect myself.
With their help and their immense love and support, I made it through that incredibly difficult period in my life. I slowly overcame the suicidal thoughts, and was sure that I would never have to deal with them again. And, I didn’t. For a while, at least.
I’d be lying if I said that I don’t struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts anymore. Because, I do. It’s not an everyday occurrence, but lately I’ve been catching myself in the midst of these dark thoughts again. And, instead of fighting them, I feed into them. Thus, strengthening their powers over me.
I’ve discovered that those feelings are always a product of my reaction and attitude toward circumstances around me. They present themselves the most when I compare myself to others, put myself down, or when I set unrealistic expectations for myself and fail to achieve them. They destroy everything around me – including my friendships and relationships.
This week I had one of my lowest days that I’ve had in a long time. Nothing went right that day. I woke up in extremely depressed, barely having the energy or desire to go to work. My workday was horrendous, my self-esteem was as dry as the desert. I was in a turmoil of self loathing due to obsessive scrolling on Facebook looking at everyone’s picture perfect lives, I could not keep the pesky tears from falling, and I could not find a way to climb out of the endless black tunnel I was in.
My family tried to encourage me, tried to help me get through the day, and in the past, it worked. But that day, I simply wasn’t receptive. I didn’t want to be. Someone would try to light my candle, and I was right there to extinguish the flame. That’s when I realized that I hit rock bottom. My family and friends could no longer “cure” me and I certainly couldn’t cure myself alone anymore. Nothing that anyone was saying was helping me. I didn’t feel human, and for the first time in a while, my own feelings started to scare me.
It was a turning point. I honestly believe that day happened for a reason. I needed it to happen. With a tug on my heart from God, and advice and care from a friend who is one of my biggest inspirations, I decided it’s time to hang on, hold on, and get healthy.
For the first time in my life, I am seeking counseling.
While I used to be incredibly embarrassed about that, I’m not anymore. I can’t be. By being ashamed and embarrassed, and living in denial that I don’t need professional help, I’m only contributing to the stigma that I definitely want to end.
Because of all this, I’ve made a decision to pursue my Masters degree, and eventually, my PhD in Christian Ministry and Counseling at Liberty University in Virginia.
I’m sharing this because there really is such power in vulnerability. It is extremely difficult to talk about mental illness, and it can be nerve-wracking to confront the reality of this issue.
However; in my opinion, the thought of other people like me who are suffering in silence is heartbreaking. So, when I invade my Facebook friends’ news feed with mental health articles, when I talk about my own struggles and victories, it is with these hopes:
To reach out a hand to someone, anyone, and let them know they are NOT and NEVER will be alone.
To tell them over, and over, and over again how beautiful and purposeful their lives are.
To have a chance to introduce them to God, and build a special relationship with Him.
To show them love, compassion, and acceptance for who they are.
To bring back joy and freedom to their lives.
To help them heal – physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
To tell them to NEVER give up. Never give in to darkness. Because it WILL be okay. You WILL get through this.
To educate the public that mental health is a real and important issue in today’s world, and the stigma against it, needs to stop.
So, I will be writing about my journey. I will be reaching out, and hopefully, just hopefully, touching a few lives and hearts in the process.
Prayer: Lord, I know you created me, and every human being in your own likeness. I know that nothing in my journey will be wasted. I trust there is a purpose for my struggles. Please help me be a beacon of hope to someone out there. Help me to spread the Word of Your unfailing and never-ending love. Help me to do Your work, and to use my story for Your greater purpose. I pray for those who are struggling in darkness right now. Show them your brilliant light. Wrap them up in your humble and most Holy arms. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
If you or someone that you know is having suicidal thoughts or are in crisis, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or visit National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.