Content note: Mentions of suicide, self-harm, eating disorders and sexual assault
On a crisp, late September day in 2015, I thought I was going to kill myself.
I’d been struggling with severe depression since high school, and even though I’d thought about suicide many times before, this time was different. The past year had been hell for me, but the past few weeks had been worse. My panic attacks were more frequent, I’d convinced myself that no one cared about me and I’d been spiraling into reckless behaviors. My friends eventually stepped in, calling my university and subsequently sending an ambulance for me. At the time, I was furious. I cut ties with all of my friends and resented them for months. But now, almost a year later, I can confidently say I’ve never been happier—and I owe it all to them.
My freshman year of college was rough. My depression and anxiety disconnected me from my friends. I didn’t think anyone would understand how terrible I felt all the time, so I never reached out. I stopped going to therapy regularly like I did when I was in high school, and wasn’t getting the help I needed. On top of my existing mental health problems, I was sexually assaulted my first semester, and lied to all my friends about the severity of what happened and the impact it had on me. By the end of the first semester, I couldn’t handle it anymore. I stuck it out through the spring semester, but I transferred to a new university in a different state my sophomore year.
I thought transferring would make everything better, but the transition was lonely and everything that was weighing down on me felt ten times heavier. So on that late September day in my first month at a new school, I just couldn’t do it anymore. I texted one of my freshman-year friends and told her about how bad it was, and, fifteen minutes later, there was a pounding at my door.
The police and EMTs were nice, even though I was fairly rude to them. I understood that I would have to go, so I didn’t put up a fight. They told me that some people would kick and scream and even try to bite them. I wanted to tell them I was kicking and screaming on the inside, but instead I just sat in the stretcher and sulked. In my seven-hour triage wait, I blew up at my friends that sent the police. I cut ties with all of them. There was a lot of cursing and a lot of caps-lock. The only thing going through my mind was, “How could they do this to me?”
But they say hindsight is 20/20, and looking back now, I couldn’t be more grateful for what they did. On that night in the hospital, with one of my closest friends sitting by my side, I had a mood shift. I went from “Screw this, I’m giving up,” to “Screw this. I want to get better.” For the first time ever, I told the therapists and psychiatrists the truth. I told them about how truly bad it all was. I told them about the suicidal thoughts, the self-harm, the sexual assault, the eating disorder, the mood swings and everything else that I had kept bottled up inside.
I was released the next day and allowed back to school under the condition that I get professional help. My “I want to get better” attitude has completely changed my life. I found a new therapist who I feel really gets me and joined a sexual assault survivor group that I know will always be there to support me. Because I started telling my mental health professionals the truth, they were able to find a more in-depth diagnosis and were able to better tailor my treatment to fit my needs. For the longest time I thought that therapy was useless, now I know that because I was keeping information from my therapists, I was misdiagnosed and I was never being treated correctly.
The change in my treatment and becoming self-aware of my disorder (Borderline Personality Disorder) has helped me tremendously. For years I talked about “happiness” as a myth. I thought it didn’t exist, or if it did, I would never feel it. Every time I felt happy, I would spend the whole time dreading the next depressive phase. Now, I can sincerely say that I’ve never been happier. And yes, there will always be bad days and good days—but I’ve learned how to manage the bad days and not fear my downswings. I’m no longer sad to be alive—I’m grateful.
Now, I’ve found a major that speaks to me and I love (almost) all of my classes. I work at an organization that assists local charities. I regularly go to therapy and continue to tell the truth. And I advocate on campus for better awareness and resources for mental health and sexual assault.
I owe all of this—my change in attitude, my better treatment, my happiness—to girls that I haven’t spoken to in a year. I was angry with them for months, and in some cases, I still am. I resented what they did, I was trying to pay off hospital bills by myself, I fell behind in some classes and I was essentially an emotional wreck. I acted petty toward them for a long time, and by the time I matured and realized how thankful I am, they didn’t want to hear it (how can I blame them, I was really mean).
There’s a lot I wish I could say to my former friends, and my feelings can be very complex. Sometimes I’m still mad, sometimes I don’t care, most of time I’m conflicted. But over the past year, one thing has become very clear:
On a crisp, late September day in 2015, I thought I was going to kill myself. And one year later, I am eternally that grateful I didn’t.