It’s been nearly 3 years since the last time I tried to end my life. It was a Saturday night, after dark. It seemed everyone else was enjoying themselves, out with friends. But there I was, alone, for the millionth weekend in a row. It was my own fault, and I knew it. I had pushed everyone away. Everything had built up, and I was threatening to explode. I was tired. Tired of the cycle of my eating disorder. Tired of self-harming. Tired of the small world I’d built for myself by self-isolating, with all its strict rules and high expectations. There was only one way out: through the morgue. I didn’t even consider recovery an option. It was too slow a fix, too huge a challenge, too much change.
That night, October 13th, 2012, I sat alone in my dorm room. I listened to the laughter in the hallway. I shed a few tears. Then I opened my bag of pills that I kept just in case. I took a handful and swallowed. I waited. The effects started to kick in. I left my room, not wanting my roommate to have the trauma of finding my body. I walked out into the night. As my head started to swim, I realized the gravity of the decision I’d made. I had a moment of panic. Then I hopped on a bus and headed towards the hospital. I called my mom and confessed what I’d done. I called my therapist and did the same. When I stumbled into the ER, I was greeted by stony-faced nurses, tired from a long shift. I was embarrassed by my inability to follow through, and the icy treatment I received only made it worse. I was just another troubled teenager pulling a stunt. They clipped a neon pink bracelet onto my wrist that signified that I was not, under any circumstances, allowed to leave. They took my belongings and locked them away in a paper bag. They hooked me up to IV fluids in a barren room at the end of the hall. I floated in and out of consciousness, occasionally wandering out to the lobby to ask to call my parents. Mostly I sat in the chair in my room, shifting around in discomfort. Sometime after midnight, when I was stable enough to move, they brought a wheelchair. A nurse and a security guard wheeled my up to the 15th floor. Thus began my second stay on the psychiatric ward.
I spent the next 5 days shuffling across the white, tiled floor, dressed in a hospital gown and wrapped in a blanket. I was woken up each day to have my vitals taken. I was interviewed several times a day, constantly asked how I was feeling. I was fed pills once a day with a little cup of water. I chose my meals, carefully picking the most comfortable option. Twice a day we migrated down the hall to the activity room. There we did crafts, listening to the radio (Home by Philip Phillips quickly became my hospital anthem). There were books, exercise bikes, a computer, and a pool table. I made bead bracelet after bead bracelet. There was a camaraderie on the ward. We understood each other. Our experiences were slightly different, but yet the same. The alcoholic, the bipolar, the borderline, we were all in the same boat. We’d all proved unable to cope with real life. We’d been deemed unstable and unfit for release.
I saw social workers, therapists, doctors, and psychiatrists. They would all come to see me and take me away into a tiny room. Then they’d interrogate me about my feelings, and my plans. After 5 days, and with some manipulation on my part, they decided that I was well enough to be released. After being discharged, I entered more rigorous therapy. It took 9 months for me to decide to get better. When I did, I took a year off school on medical leave to focus on my recovery. I got tested and diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. I started a Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) program for the third time, and gave it my all. DBT played a crucial role in my recovery. It gave me the skills I needed to get through intense emotions and urges. I reduced my self-harm behaviors. I took suicide off the table as an option for escape. I started to relearn how to feed myself. I found a medication balance that worked well. I got and kept a job. I worked hard to accept my situation and be willing to change it. I started to slow down, and really participate in life. I learned to take pleasure in the little things like the spring flowers and fall leaves. Soon my negativity was turned into something a little more positive. I learned to take care of myself and to love spending time alone. I began to enjoy life.
Now I’m starting my second year back at school. I’m still working on building my life worth living. Right now it consists of taking pleasure in the little things. Running into a bunny on my walk home. Taking pleasure in the way I dress. Watching my pet frog hunt his crickets. Listening to music on my way to class. I try to dive into my school work which can help take my mind off my insecurities and other problems. I do a lot of cheerleading and pumping myself up. I’m even starting to plan my future, something that once paralyzed me with fear and that I was convinced I didn’t have.
Things are still hard though. I haven’t been cured; I never will be. I have to fight every day to avoid sliding backwards. I struggle with finding a balance between alone time and being social. There are still days when I don’t want to get out of bed or leave the house. My mood still fluctuates, rising and dropping, though not as severely as before. I still go to therapy each week and take my medicine every day. What’s different is the ratio of good to bad days. There are more good days and moments than before. And I have hope. Hope that I can accomplish the things I want to do. Hope that my life will continue to improve. Hope that I can survive.
Recovery is undeniably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. When I started I honestly didn’t believe my life could improve. But it has. Through therapy, medication, mindfulness, dedication, and hard work, I have slowly built my life worth living. I once was skeptical, and very jaded but I’ve come to admit that recovery is hard, but it’s worth it. A lot has changed but what has changed most of all is my perspective on life. After years of wanting to end my own life, the gratitude and appreciation I have for the years ahead of me are indescribable. I’ve fought hard for the opportunity to make a place for myself in this world and to leave my mark on it. The future is much more valuable and powerful to me because I didn’t have one for so long. It’s not something I’m going to risk giving up again.
Now, three years later, I’m glad I survived.