I dealt with my dads drinking and angry outbursts for years before it finally took a toll on my physical and mental well being. His way of dealing with issues was to drink until he was able to sufficiently criticize, degrade, humiliate, and emotionally break me and my brothers down to the point where he had total control. His most common form of dealing with anything was ignore the person who caused him to be angered or disappointed. Ignoring included being excluded from family activities, most commonly dinner, being made to sit in a room with him while he disregarded your existence so you would know your worth, and many other situations where my brothers and I were invisible. While never physically violent with us, my dad would make it to a point to prove his power whether it be breaking something of our, throwing things, slamming doors, and terrorizing us to the point where we were afraid he may cross the line and eventually hurt one of us. As the oldest child I had no second thoughts about protecting my younger brothers from my dads wrath. While Brandon witnessed a lot of the psychological abuse happening at home, Brian and I received the worst of it. My dad fed off of my brothers low self-esteem and quiet demeanor, degrading him whenever he had the chance. By the time I started high school I was no longer “daddy’s little girl.” I became more self conscious and felt closer to my mom, which greatly angered my dad as he saw it as a personal attack to him. I became heavily involved in school and extracurricular activities to avoid any and all contact with being home, pushing myself beyond the necessary point any 15 year old should be at. When I was home, I felt sick to my stomach hearing my dads car pull in the driveway, not knowing how the night was going to go.
The lack of control in my own home caused me to begin unhealthy habits such as excessive cleaning and washing my hands, refusing to sleep for days at a time, and eventually developing bulimia. I began to keep a journal and recorded each time my dad ignored or degraded me, every time I purged, thought about suicide, scrutinized my self image, or went more than one day without sleep.
Looking back I realize where I really started to really lose control was when I stopped sleeping and eating altogether. I felt complete despair and a loneliness that engulfed my every thought and action. I thought that if someone cut open my body, all they would find was a black, endless hole lacking the blood and organs that keep ones body alive. Dangerous thoughts had taken over my mental state weeks before, pushing deeper into the darkness. In the beginning I fought back, trying to find the small light that would keep me going but eventually I gave up and let the thoughts win. I had convinced myself that I would never make it to my high school graduation, start college, pursue a career, find the love of my life and get married, or start a family. I was going to die before any of these milestones would occur. I reached out to my mom, desperately hoping she was see how much I was struggling and the seriousness of my problems, and that I would finally get the help I desperately needed.
On Sunday February 10, 2008 I decided that my life was no longer worth living. After overhearing my mom and dad arguing about me starting therapy, my dad’s only reaction was that I was faking all of it, wanted the attention, and that the final answer was no. The realization that I was truly alone and that not even my own father cared enough to get me help was the catalyst that I needed to go through with my plan to end my life. A half hour after taking a bottle of sleeping pills and two more bottles of painkillers, I was unable to stand and screamed for my mom before going unconscious. The time between her finding me on my bedroom floor and when I reached the emergency room is mostly a blur. I was hooked up to IV’s, given liquid charcoal to throw up the remaining pills in my stomach, and kept in the ER under suicide watch for 24 hours. While in the process of regaining consciousness, I have one distinct memory of my dad coming into the room and silently pacing around my bed before finally speaking. His only words to his daughter who just tried to end her own life was, “I hope you are happy with all of this…you just opened a huge can of worms for this family.” Then he left.
My story continues through my stay in the hospital, transfer to a psychiatric hospital, and continues outpatient therapy for 4 years. February 10 is the 6 year anniversary of the day I wanted to end my life and I look back on this story and can truly see how far I have come. I continue to see my therapist occasionally and deal with anxiety on a regular basis, but I have grown into a strong woman at the age of 21 who has seen and experienced more than anyone my age should have to. I have made it my passion to reach out to young adults and teenagers who are struggling with depression, suicidal thoughts, and any other mental health issues that would cause them to feel as alone and invisible as I once did. I have become an advocate for breaking the mental illness stigma and continue to work towards suicide prevention both in my personal life and through my time in college. I hope to one day be able to go back to my high school as a motivational speaker and educate the students and faculty of the struggles that adolescents face and the importance of intervention, support, and love.
So I end my story here by looking back to the girl on February 10, 2008 who felt she had nothing to live for and how today, 2,182 days later, I have everything to live for.