Dedication: My Mom. Thank you for always being there for me!
I was just 13 years old and in the seventh grade when I had my first panic attack. It was crippling and terrifying. I could barely breath, I was hyperventilating, and I was sweating all over. Let me start at the beginning. So it all started when I got sick. I was out of school for about a week. Now, I’m a perfectionist, I always have been, so when I received a boat load of homework, I was really overwhelmed. It got to the point that whenever I received a new homework assignment I would have a mini panic attack. Over time, these panic attacks got worse and worse. I was having a panic attack on average 2-3 times per day when I was at school (though they ranged in severity). I would have to go down to the counselors office so much, that they actually gave me a special pass. All I had to do was flash the pass at my teacher and I could just go down without even having to say anything to the teacher. I started to hear voices telling me things like, “Your so stupid,” and “Your disgusting.” This only added to my anxiety, which then caused an onset of depression. I was so depressed, I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning. I was exhausted all of the time. The voices steadily grew worse. “Hurt yourself,” they would say, “It will make you feel better.” I barley smiled or laughed. But through all of that time I told no one what I was truly feeling. No one. Not even my parents or my best friend. I just kept all of my suffering locked up inside my mind. That is one of my biggest regrets. I still remember when one day I was walking down the halls and I passed by the bathroom. I had just had another panic attack but instead of walking to the counselors office, I ran into the bathroom. I exploded. I threw my bag against the wall, my stuff going everywhere, and I screamed. I screamed and cried, and cried some more. I threw my hands against the walls and pounded them. I was so mad and upset that this was happening to me. I had no clue why this was happing, and I also couldn’t put what was happing to me into words. Finally when i was done screaming, I slowly walked up to the mirror and looked at myself dead in the eye and, I’ll never forget what I said to myself, I said, “I hate you.”and I meant it. That is what I think was one of the moments that sent me spiraling down a long, hard road to recovery. I think that one of the saddest parts of that day was that no one heard my screams.
It was just another school day in November when I decided that that day I would end it all. In my last class before lunch, I showed my teacher my pass and he said that I could go. I left the classroom. I waited until nobody was looking an then I left the building. I ended up walking to an overpass, pedestrian bridge over a highway about a mile from my school. Once on the bridge I wrote a suicide note and climbed over the fence-ready to jump. Every part of me wanted to jump, but I didn’t. Now I know that was God. Shortly after I climbed the fence, a police officer came and asked me what I was doing. I responded that I wanted to die. He talked into his radio and a bunch of police officer’s came, along with an ambulance and a fire truck. They ended up closing the highway below and two semi-truck drivers parked under the bridge so if I fell, I wouldn’t fall far. I never got the chance to meet them and thank them, but I’m forever grateful for what they did. One officer in particular was able to talk me out of taking my life, and he stayed with me the entire time, hanging onto a loop of my jeans so I didn’t fall. The only time that he left my side was when I rode down to safety in the bucket of the fire truck. He is one of the heroes of my story. I was brought by ambulance to the hospital. During my hospital stay I was diagnosed with severe depression and generalized anxiety disorder. I ended up having 4 inpatient hospital stays over the following months. Some of my hospital stays and struggles were from prescribed medications that my body reacted negatively to. It took awhile to find the correct medications and doses. During my 2nd hospital stay, which was due to a med reaction, I started self-harming almost daily. Self-harm became a big monster that ended up being very hard to overcome. Although I was never diagnosed, in the end I suffered from PTSD from all of the trauma and pain I had during my year of 13. Im happy to say that its been almost 2 years since I have self-harmed! I just turned 16 and I’m living life to the fullest. I take medication and still see my therapist sometimes. I still have bad days but now they are the ‘exception’ not the norm. I also started a non-profit called Gifts of Hope. What we do is we give gifts like stuffed animals, throw blankets, coloring books, etc, to adolescents in inpatient psychiatric units. We are currently partnered with 2 hospitals, though I hope that we will be partnered with more in the future!
To everyone out there reading this….. YOU ARE LOVED!! YOU ARE NEEDED!! YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!! YOU ARE ENOUGH!! If you are struggling, hear me when I say, “Your pain won’t last forever!” I know that it’s hard to believe sometimes, but know it’s true. Im living proof! So if you find yourself struggling, get help, talk to someone, remember that there is hope, and God is always with you, even when it seems like he’s not.
H.O.P.E- Hold On Pain Ends