If this helps just one person it will be worth it.
I’ve been depressed my entire life. I remember being 6 years old and wishing I could just be gone. I grew up in a physically, emotionally, and verbally abusive household and until now, it has stunted me greatly. Professionally I have always excelled with ease, but I had low self-esteem which I tried to cover up by doing everything I could to make other people happy. I would have sawed off my own right arm to make someone smile. I wanted everyone to love themselves but I had no self-love.
By the age of 11 I developed anorexia and have struggled with it ever since. I was never allowed to see a therapist by my parents (who were my abusers) so I took to self-harm to find some way of coping. I thought that everything happening around me was my fault and that I deserved to hurt because of it. I internalized that so deeply that I withdrew from almost everyone. By 23, in 2018 I was hospitalized three time within a year due to my risk of harming myself.
But please read on, because this year has been the hardest of my life… and the absolute best.
I was forced to part with everything that gave me any happiness. I had to move to another state, leave my fiancé, I lost my dear kitten to congestive heart failure and my family ties were completely severed. All within a couple of months. I began dating someone who was great. I focused a lot of attention on him and he is such a fun person. He will make someone very happy someday. But we weren’t a match. Quite simply, we were different people going down different paths. I tried to hold on to him, kept telling myself we could make things whole, but I now realize that I was only doing it so that I wouldn’t be alone. I loved him as a person though.
A month ago we broke up and for the first day I took it kind of hard, but I was used to processing loss by that point. The friends that I had rallied around me and made such an effort to show me that I was loved, that I matter deeply to them. But I still couldn’t feel it. I walked around thinking that people were always playing some huge joke on me when they said they care about me or that they thought I was a good person. All I’d ever been told by my family is that I was not good enough, no matter what I did, I wasn’t enough. But life carried on and so did I.
Last week I came so close to dying. I had attempted suicide in the past but this was different. I generally wanted to die like always, but that day, the level of harm to myself was accidental. As I woke up in the ambulance, slipping in and out of consciousness, I had no idea what was occurring in the external world. All I know is that I was screaming, begging the EMT’s not to let me die, please don’t let me die. My desperation was tangible. That was before my body shut down almost entirely on the way to the hospital, I couldn’t see, speak, or move. I apparently spent much of the ambulance ride seizing.
Guys, I don’t know how to explain the process of almost dying. There are no words close to describe the sheer primal panic that occurs. It is utterly horrific. You can feel your own body shutting down on you. The world disappeared around me entirely, I felt no stimuli at all. But I could still think to myself and all I heard was a voice, my voice, in my head screaming for me to find the fight to keep my pulse pounding. Telling me to summon everything I had in me to live…I just had to live. Then everything went silent and the world got dark….
I woke up later in the hospital, and as I came to and stabilized, I was transferred to a private room. They said they needed to keep me under constant watch; the doctors said that with what happened, I should be dead. But there I was. Still existing. As I sat in my room, I broke down crying. I had thought for 24 straight years that I wanted to die. It was all I wanted. It was my primary goal at all times, and it felt like the only safety I could rely on. No matter what happened to me, if things got too bad, I could leave this world. What I had experienced, at least what I remembered of it, was hell.
Honestly guys, you could have sat me down and talked to me forever before about why I should be alive, none of it meant anything to me. I hated myself and just wanted out. When I was in the hospital, I initially tried to make light of the situation and make jokes, saying things like “we’ll get ’em next time” as a nod to my plans to die. But my comedic defense mechanism quickly broke down and I just sat there. I sat there alone, with just myself and just thought “what the (heck).” I had always thought I wanted to die. But this was leaps and bounds scarier than anything I have ever faced on this earth. I’ll never have words to explain it. Never. This world just does not contain the concepts I need to explain to you what I felt. I experienced none of the comfort or relief I expected, simply terror. I realized then that I had to live. I had no choice, I wasn’t doing that to myself. For the first time in my life, suicide was not an option.
I honestly can’t tell you the mechanism by which this occurred, but a light went off in my head, I guess some call it “hitting rock bottom,” and boy did it hit back HARD. Suddenly the world was new around me and I belonged in it. The fog that had haunted my entire life was lifted. Only then did I realize my worth. I valued myself, I wanted to keep my body safe, the same body that just months before I had purposely starved down to a bmi of 12. I wanted to thank myself for being strong enough to survive this. I realized that I’m strong. My worth was inherent and whether I was conscious of it or not, I mattered. I mattered to other people, sure, but that voice in my head that willed me to fight let me know that I mattered to myself. I mattered to myself. I had never ONCE had that thought in my entire life.
As I recovered, I knew my life would never be the same. It never will. For every single breath I take, I praise my lungs. With every beat of my heart, I thank it for not stopping when all the doctors thought it would. The brain that I once thought of only as diseased and cursed, is my prized possession. It is the same brain that helped me cope through years of hell. And I’m not sure what happened, but my brain, which was once strictly type A is creative now; I see things in full color, the world is dynamic around me, I can taste life. I can hold it in my hands and witness its beauty.
I had once sought worth through the affirmation of other people. I tortured myself with it, then told myself they were lying when I received it. “Who could care about a pathetic (person) like me?” I would say. The things I used to say to myself, I wouldn’t have said to the most evil person on earth. Yet, I was my own worst enemy. Now, I am happy with just me. I’m my own best friend. I do have a wonderful boyfriend who is so supportive. He is the only man who I have ever told my entire story to. I did it early on so that I could give him the option to leave me because of it. He simply refused. He said I deserve my love and I was able to accept and internalize that. For the first time, I believed a positive thing that someone said about me.
Moreover, I didn’t need him to say it. I already felt it in that moment. I felt that I loved 100% of me, even the parts of me that were broken. They all come together to make up a kind, loving, selfless, beautiful, fun, intelligent woman. The harm to my pride, and self-worth I had experienced melted away; it didn’t matter. I can now recognize and push off any negative thoughts. Any person can say or do anything they want, they still can’t come close to touching my self-worth. My value does not diminish because of someone’s failure to see or respect it. It’s in me and it is inherent. No one can tarnish it, not even me. It is in every one of us.
I’ve begun intensive therapy to tackle the trauma I’ve experienced, but I’m no longer a victim of it. I thank the universe for letting me fall into the pits of human existence because I needed it. With this new perspective, I can go forward. I know I can go on, I will be happy, and I’m excited about it all!
Guys… I can’t wait for the rest of my life. I can’t wait to live.