The first time I tried to kill myself, I was eight years old.
The incessant bullying everywhere I turned literally sucked the life out of me; that dying actually represented freedom. From being too fat at home, to being too poor at school, to being too smart for the neighborhood kids, I was always too much, but seemingly never enough to matter.
When things seemed to be spiraling out of control, I’d crawl under the front porch of our DC row home and play with the stray cats that always felt welcomed, even when I never did. My best friend, back then, was a blind and half deaf dog named Founder, a lost mutt, who had randomly jumped into my mother’s station wagon years before.
I was in third grade and in only those short eight years I’d seen enough loss that I didn’t think there was much more to actually live for.
When drinking that cup of bleach just left me in a heap of tears and vomit, I gave up. Those years, in the early 1990s were some of the worse of my life, but I was too scared to live and too scared to die.
This is the first time I encountered anorexia. You read that right. At eight, I stopped eating—on purpose. From eating three full meals (sometimes more) to barely eating a half of slice of bread every three days, I lost so much of my body weight that I could barely lift myself off of the ground. After going almost three months of starving myself to death, I gave up again.
Between cutting myself, taking on more stress than I should, trying to be in 12+ after school activities, overexercising until I passed out, and being the perfect child who never got in trouble, I was always hiding from myself.
And, if I had my way . . . the only thing my family would have remembered of me was my senior year, high school picture.
Because on December 9, 2002, I tried to kill myself again—and almost succeeded.
It was snowing that night. I’d come home after a basketball game and seeing the piles of homework I hadn’t touched, I emotionally broke. In that moment, I felt like I had failed EVERYTHING. I wasn’t good enough to actually play in the game, not good enough to not have to study, not good enough for my mom to pay attention to, not good enough to have real friends that wanted to be around me not because of the homework I could do for them.
So, I finally did it. As I cut my wrists and destroyed my entire left arm with that razor blade, I felt a sense of relief. I’ve never shared this, but I ran through my house (as everyone slept), trying to hide. I hadn’t thought about how my mother would feel finding me when she awoke and instantly I felt guilt. I was running to find a place to die, in the most dignified way, that would soften the blow for her.
I ended up in an upstairs closet, waiting . . .
. . . waiting to die.
In the still of that night, I felt a sense of clarity I never had before. But, lucky for the world, I didn’t cut deep enough.
For many of my classmates, they may have wondered where I went senior year . . .
One minute I was in class, laughing with them, maybe even sharing some of my answers . . .
And, then I seemed to vanish off of the face of the Earth for three months.
The only person who knew where I was and why I was there was my best friend. She would sneak every lunch and call me, from the pay phone in the hallway, the one of very few calls I would get in the hospital for those long weeks.
I attempted suicide one more time since then after the guilt of a friend’s rape destroyed my sense of trust in the world.
I’m thankful God had a better plan for me. That I could grow and heal from my battle scars, that I could share my story with the world and maybe, just maybe, help someone who needs to know that their life matters.
The real truth is—
Suicide has no look, no GPA, no age, no zip code, no marital status, and no facial expression.
See, after all . . .
I had a 3.9 GPA; I was in all AP classes; I was a good kid who never got in trouble; I participated in after school activities; I volunteered; I went to church every Sunday; I had a family that loved me—but I still wanted to end it all.
Dear America, there are many of us who struggle with depression, anxiety, PTSD, eating disorders, or diagnosed mental illness that at times we are ashamed or ostracized by society to NOT ask for help.
WHO we are doesn’t make us “crazy”, it doesn’t make us “bad” people, and you don’t even need to “hide” from us. Instead, look at us as creative, compassionate, and sensitive human beings who have a moving story of SURVIVAL that we can share.
Don’t forget to say “hello”, to say “thank you”, and to show true appreciation to help all of us fight the battle that we may be waging within ourselves.
Many times you just need an unbiased, non-judgmental, “we’ve been there and let’s do this together” support system to make it through. If you have read my story, please know that I value you as a person, as a fellow human, and as a blessing that the world should love unconditionally.