Prepare yourself, because this might be triggering.
I was thirteen when I first discovered depression existed within my own brain. It consumed everything I cared about and covered it in darkness. Everyone said I was “angsty”, like the rest of the teenagers I spent time with. However, I feel like angst does not exactly describe the hovering feeling of wanting to die.
As I got older, it only got worse. I found comfort in darkness, in being alone, and in sharp objects. I did not find comfort in people – at least not right away. I spent summers in pants to cover every cut I made. You would never see me in a swimsuit, crop top, or shorts. I hid my skin because I hated it, so why would I let anyone else see it. Cuts and scars are not exactly something that I wanted to advertise to the rest of the world.
Then there was one summer that I had built up enough courage to try on a bikini my mother had bought me, but it did not occur to me that she wanted to see how it fit (just in case she had to return it). I had forgotten about the fresh wounds on my hips and did not react in time to cover them. She came into my room, noticed the multiple scabbed slices and immediately started the interrogation process.
“How did that happen” and “Are you okay?” were two of her most repeated questions with the utmost concern in her voice.
Of course I responded with a lie. “I ran into the dining table really hard, but don’t worry I will take care of it so it heals properly”. She believed it and went on to ask about the swimsuit.
After that summer, was my freshman year of high school. I had moved to a new place and was starting at a new high school where I did not know anyone (this did not help depression in any way). I had some acquaintances from eighth grade because I spent a few months there before going into high school, but they did not hold the same value to me as my friends from my hometown did. My freshman year was rough because I had to start over with getting to know people, which meant I had to open up.
I spent a portion of my freshman year being very closed off from everyone because I never wanted people to see how badly I was struggling. I would go home after school, hoping that no one was home so that I could cry and find security in my blades. Then come one night where I was admitting defeat. To everything. I laid in my bed, waiting for my family to go to sleep so that I could start the process of trying to end my life. Once they were asleep, I proceeded to fill the bathtub with water. I filled it with an amount I felt would be enough to where I could submerge myself all the way in. Once the water was at the right depth, I got in and began to cry.
I started saying “I love you and I am sorry” in between all of the shallow breaths that I had left, hoping that God would relay the messages to my family and friends once I was gone. And then I submerged myself entirely into the water. I was under the water long enough to where parts of my brain started to go fuzzy and I felt the pressure build up. And then I pulled myself out. I was bawling. I was ashamed that I could not finish the deed. I sat in the water and figured I would just cut myself and bleed into the water - which is exactly what I did.
I sat there with tears streaming down my face, a bloody razor in one hand, and the other trying to support my head while resting in the crevice of the bathtub. Once I felt I had seen enough blood come out, I drained the tub and sat on the toilet and cried even more. I still could not believe that I had come so close to completing the one thing I wanted to then step away from the ledge. I wanted the internal pain to end. I wanted to stop the war going on inside of my head.
I spent years trying to hide the scars from my family, friends, and the people I dated. Even through high school, the depression battle raged on. Some days were victorious and some were losses. Relationships were never easy – intimacy was even scarier at that age. The thought of letting someone in was terrifying because what if they did something to push me over the edge. Sad to say, someone did exactly that. The texts he sent after were some of the most painful things to read. Engrained in my brain are the words “You should of killed yourself because you are a horrible person and no one should ever have to deal with you” and then the rest is blurry.
Even during that point in time, I fought his demands. I fought the craving of wanting to focus my pain onto my skin. I fought the looming feeling of wanting to die. I chose to live in order to change myself. I wanted to love myself again. I hated the girl in the mirror. I was so ashamed of what I had done to my body. At that point, I knew I had to put my blades away for the better and I did.
Fast-forward a year to when I had moved away for college. At the time, I was in a house with five other people, two of whom were my best friends. Even though I was living with people I knew and pursuing a degree I thought would benefit me so much, I felt so alone and that I had no purpose. I realized my depression never fully went away, and for the record, it never actually does.
This time was different though; cutting again would cause suspicion and possibly be obvious because I lived with so many people. Therefore, as an alternative, I chose to drink. A casual beer with dinner turned into half a bottle of rum or more every night. I would skip class a lot because I was so exhausted from fighting my thoughts the night before or I was hungover. I chose isolation and a bottle as much as I could.
Then it reached a point of no return – meaning the bottles were piling up and people thought I was stocking up for a party. The alcohol could only do so much before my brain found its way back. I faced this demon once before which taught me that I could do it again. I knew I had to stop drinking. However, I did not know what to do or even how to start the conversation of needing help. The one thing I built up enough strength to do was tell myself “it’s okay” every day because eventually if you lie to yourself enough, you start to believe it.
“It’s okay” became my mantra. I wrote it on sticky notes and put them on my mirror, on my laptop, on my wrist, or anywhere I knew I would need the reminder that no matter what “It’s okay”; and it helped.
I would have emotional breakdowns every now and then. It’s okay.
I would be angry for no reason. It’s okay.
I would find myself choosing to sleep over hang out with people. It’s okay.
It was calming and secure – and honestly, saved my life.
Fast forward a year after I moved back from that house, I was able to celebrate turning twenty years old two years ago and this was monumental for my personal growth because I never thought I would make it to twenty years old. I thought I would have been dead before I ever reached that age. But I made it. Coming face to face with my own demons was not a task I thought I would ever be able to handle; yet I fought them for years on end (and still am every now and then). As a reward, “It’s okay” is now tattooed on my right wrist, in my hand writing, in the same place I wrote it with plain ink before.
Suicide was a permanent solution to a temporary problem. I knew that my depression would stay with me forever, but I did not know that I would one day build up the strength to fight it. “Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing, “said August Wilson, a famous playwright. And my angels did in fact start to sing.
Going from nights of wanting to stop breathing to mornings where I am thankful to be awake is a huge change. Through my struggle, I have learned that while darkness is comforting, it is not my life. My life has dark days and days full of light, sometimes it may even be gray. Regardless of what is going on, I know that it’s okay.
This story is written based on real life events from KCL's founder, Savanah Clements