By: Nora Lee (Guest Columnist)
TRIGGER WARNING: This content deals with an account of suicidal ideations and may be triggering to some people.
I am a mother of two. I am a wife. I am a sister, a daughter, a cousin and a friend. I am a survivor. I haven’t survived what some would consider a great feat, but to me surviving my teen years is huge.
I grew up in southern California, one of the most beautiful places in the United States. At thirteen I was informed that we were moving. We moved across the country to Texas. As a teen this was the worst news possible. I was having too many emotions running through my head and changes happening to my body. I swallowed my anger at having to be uprooted from my cousins and best friends and tried to move with a smile. Well, my smile never showed up.
I hated it in Texas. I entered my first day at a new junior high with the typical stares and snickers. Other teens have grown up together knowing each other for their entire lives. I was the new girl with an odd fashion sense and even worse taste in music. I didn’t fit in anywhere. I tried to join the cheer-leading club only to be told my grades were not good enough. I still didn’t fit in but at least I was trying. I hid behind my long hair most of the year and tried to make friends. By the end of the year, I wasn’t exactly miserable, but still couldn’t find a place to fit in.
All of my emotions were in a crazy sense of upheaval. I couldn’t make sense of much that year. My father started to push me away because I was developing into a young lady and he didn’t know what to do with me. Add to that, he thought he needed to spend more time with my brother and not me (because that’s they way he thought people did things here in Texas). I wasn’t accepted in school by more than a handful and now my father (whom I’ve been extremely close to) was pushing me away. My mother and I were never close and I had no one to turn to to help me with my thoughts.
One day when my parents were working and my brother was gone I decided I would take my life. It was a major decision that I told myself was the only way I would be happy. I told myself that no one would miss me. I walked into the kitchen and pulled out the sharpest knife we had. I knew from videos and movies the “correct” way to slit my wrists. I held the knife to my wrist and pushed as hard as I could. I dragged the knife lengthwise on my wrist. The sharpest knife we owned which would cut my finger any time I used it, didn’t penetrate my skin. I tried again. I got a scratch. I cried and cried and thought “I’m such a failure I can’t even cut my own wrists right.”
I put the knife away and sunk deeper into a depression filled with an occasional cigarette and beer, both of these I routinely snuck away from my father. I didn’t know why I was always so upset. I was just so unhappy and mad all the time. After a few weeks, I decided I would try to end it all again. This time I went to my mother’s medicine cabinet and opened a bottle of pills. I took the entire bottle. I went to my bed to simply go to sleep and never wake again. I woke up 4 hours later with a headache. Again, I felt like a failure.
I put my feelings aside and just tried to focus on one thing that I could be good at. I found it in dance. My freshman year I was introduced to dance and loved it. I even tried out for the dance team and made it! I lived for dance, but under everything was still my lingering unhappiness. I didn’t realize I was sabotaging my own life by drinking and smoking every chance I got until my sophomore year. My sophomore year came around and I got to dance. I had a new passion to focus on. Unfortunately, my inner demons reared their heads.
I became so focused on my looks and my body that I started thinking I was fat. I was 110 pounds. I stopped eating. I became anorexic. This is where you essentially starve yourself because you need to control something in your life. And I needed to control something. My demons, however, had other plans. I drank and smoked and got caught. I was caught and suspended from school for a week and expelled from the dance team. I was crushed! My drinking picked up. My smoking picked up. My eating picked up. I needed to feel somewhat in control of my life, so I decided I would start purging what I ate. I needed to maintain my weight!
I ate, then I purged. I drank and I purged (mostly due to consuming so much alcohol it made me sick). I had nights where I drank so much I didn’t remember getting home. I drank and smoked and purged when I ate. My sophomore year was ending and I was able to try out for the dance team again. I had made the team again! I was so excited. I decided to limit my drinking and smoking to the weekends. As for purging every time I ate, that continued.
My junior year was starting and I was beginning to have some optimistic feelings. I made good friends in dance. The dance teacher and her family really took me under their wings with words of encouragement. My teacher never brought up the past. She just helped me focus on the future and pushed me in my dance abilities.
I watched a video on bulimia and anorexia with my class. I realized what I was doing was silly. I tried to kill myself twice and both times didn’t work. I found a comfortable place in dance and for the first time in years was a little happy. I simply stopped. It was really hard to make myself quit purging, but I knew I needed to. I was coming out of those critical teenage years and felt like I suddenly woke up.
I wonder what it would have been like if I had someone asking me about my problems. What it would have been like if we hadn’t moved. I know my story is very mild and could have been much worse. We have all been teenagers and struggled with our emotions. Thankfully I survived mine.
(Editor’s note) Nora is one example of overcoming the problems discussed above, but not everyone can do so on their own. If you would like to get involved with helping those in need and promoting suicide prevention, musician Jhonny K., is helping out by offering a 2 songs for $1 promotion in conjunction with his suicide prevention concert series. Please feel free to hear more about this and how to help via his video located below the crisis center hotlines. Together, we can make a difference. If you are in need of immediate help, please call the National Suicide Prevention hotline.
Call 1-800-273-8255 (US)
Call 1 800 465 4442 (CA) or +1 (905) 459 7777
Call 08457 90 90 90 (UK)
Call 1800 198 313 (AU)
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