I’m just going to continue right where I left off.
Anyway, so that’s the only reason why I don’t continue to hurt myself.
As high school contunued, me and Evan grew close again. We continued to like each other on and off, but more importantly, he was my closest friend. Over time, he once again became my crutch, and he continued to help me the best he could. My attachment to him eventually became unhealthy, obsessive even. I wanted to talk to him at all hours, I posted frequent mysterious Facebook statuses and waited to see if he would comment. I learned about him, his favorite music, his favorite book, his favorite movie, and I went out and made a big show of getting into the same things he was into. I downloaded two whole albums by this band, She and Him, just because it was one of his favorite music groups. God, I hated their music, but I pretended to love it. He told me his favorite book was called “Traitor,” and I went home and begged my grandmother to order it on Amazon the very same day. (Fun fact, I ordered a book called Traitor by Andy McNab, assuming that’s what he was talking about. It wasn’t. He had been talking about the Star Wars novel. Boy, was that an embarrassing conversation.) Some days, when I was in his part of town with my grandmother, visiting my aunt, I would even convince her to drive through his neighborhood so I could see his house. I didn’t even realize how weird my behavior had become, until it had become too late. Anyway, moving on..
Fast forward to 11th grade. I remember when I got the news. I was in the car with my mom, getting ready to go meet some family at the mall. I got a text from one of my close friends at the time, Paula, and all it said was, “Hey, do you know what happened to Ashley?”
Confused, I responded with “What do you mean?,” seconds later she replied with, “She died.”
First, I just wanted to say how much her texts showed the true nature of humanity. Notice how her text was looking for information, for gossip. I’m not bashing her, because I’m sure I did the same thing after I found out. Actually.. No. I can’t say that I did. Even after I found out how she died, when people came to me, I scolded them for treating her death as a conversation subject. However, why are we, or most humans, like that? Why can’t our brains take a break and mourn a death without wandering and wondering about the circumstances around it? Was it because she was so young? Or maybe it was because we are always starving for information…
No, that’s not true. Most of humankind could care less about information or facts. They want tragedies. And that’s what Ashley’s death was.
Ashley committed suicide. Sweet, beautiful, happy-go-lucky Ashley hung herself a few days after Christmas. It might even have been the day after, I can’t quite remember. We weren’t close, she was more of a classmate than a friend, but as I’ve said, in a class full of 50 or so people, we were all somewhat close. I never saw the signs, I wonder if anyone really did. She dyed her hair frequently, and could be kind of moody some days, but who wasn’t as a teenager? I sometimes wonder if I would have seen the signs if we had more classes together, I think we only had one or two together at the most. I mean, by that time, I was an expert on anything having to do with depression..self harm.. and suicide, maybe I could have saved her. Maybe not. I heard that she killed herself as a side effect of a new medicine she was on, but I believe it was more than that. Those thoughts had been in her head for a long time, just like they were in mine, only she chose to act on them.
It was hard returning to school after Christmas break. Things were so different without her. Everything had changed, including something in me. Unknowingly, I started to idolize Ashley. She had the strength and the courage to act on something that I’d been thinking about for a long time, but had been too chicken to. I printed pictures off her Facebook and hung them all inside my locker. No one thought it was weird, as we were all pretty affected by her death, but thinking back on it, it was a little creepy. She wasn’t someone that I hung out with or talked to on a daily basis, and I had no right to be hanging pictures of her in my locker. My thoughts grew worse and worse, and my attempts to reach out for help had more or less stopped. I had accepted the fact that I wanted to die, though I still wasn’t sure if I’d actually be able to act on it.
One day, during math class, I was writing notes back and forth with Evan (best friend/off and on love interest) as usual, and talking about my depression, also the usual. I don’t remember what I said exactly, but I do remember writing about how I felt like a guinea pig and that I was sick of it. I had tried three or four antidepressants at that point, and none of them had helped. Apparently somewhere in there, I had also made a comment about wanting to commit suicide. After the class was over, he folded up the note and put it in his pocket and tried to make me promise that we would go talk to to one of the teachers after school about the bad thoughts i was having. I found a way to talk myself out of it, or so I thought. Later that night, my mom got a phone call from the school, and who apparently faxed her a copy of my note with Evan, and next thing we know, we were on the way to the closest psychiatric hospital. The note was then used as evidence to commit me.
I’m not going to go into details about my time in the psych ward right now, but when I got out, I decided to come clean to my whole group of friends about my struggles with depression and self-harm. They responded with such love and support, I really thought everything was going to be okay. A few short weeks later, my depression was once again showing it’s ugly head, and I realized that I didn’t have the support system I thought I did. My friends started to withdraw from me. I don’t remember the specifics but I had a friend’s Facebook passowrd, and having sensed that something was wrong, I logged in and started to snoop. It took me less than 10 seconds to find what i was looking for. A group message between Paula, Rachel, and Evan, my three best friends. I don’t remember exactly what was said, but i remember them talking about things such as how they found it freaky that I hurt myself, and how I wasn’t a Christian (remember, private school) because Christians didn’t struggle with depression…
I didn’t confront them, I just continued to try to be friends, as they continued to pull away. Eventually, it was like I didn’t exist at all. I ate lunch every day in an empty classroom, or with my favorite teacher, because I no longer felt welcome at our lunch table. Their lunch table. They never admitted what they were doing. Everyone insisted that I was still their friend, but I remember overhearing one of my friends talking about how I was such a downer, and that’s why they didn’t really want me hanging around anymore.
Mid-senior year, I got a new boyfriend who thankfully kept me distracted from my issues at school, but them pulling away from me and avoiding me continued on until I graduated high school and even for a few months afterwards. I tried to stay in touch with them but we rarely, if ever hung out. I kept them as my friends on Facebook for a long time. I don’t know why. Maybe I just wasn’t ready to let go of the people who had been such a big part of my life for so long. I think I actually just deleted the last two people from my friends list a few days ago. They aren’t part of my life now, and I don’t want them to be. I harbor no bad feelings towards them, and I really do hope that they’re happy and living their lives, but their effect on me lasted for years. Because of them, and because of my school, I thought something was wrong with me. I thought that that I was committing a sin. I thought I was a freak. I thought depression and self-harm was something to hide and never, ever, talk about. It wasn’t their faults, not really. They were raised never knowing anything about mental illness. They were young and wanted to continue living their sheltered lives as long as possible, happy and carefree. There’s nothing wrong with that.
I wonder how they feel about mental illness now. Are they more informed? Do they know how many people struggle with it? Do they ever think of me? Do I even have any right to be upset? Maybe it was all my fault. Maybe I was asking too much. Maybe I shouldve just kept it to myself. But let’s pretend for a second that I did keep it all to myself, and that I never reached out to anybody for help..
I wouldn’t be here.
If Evan had never given that note to my teacher, I never would’ve ended up in the hospital. I never would’ve gotten any real help. My parents wouldn’t have watched me as closely as they did. They never would’ve known about my plans. They never would’ve taken the lock off my bedroom door.
I probably would’ve ended up killing myself, one way or another.
But sometimes I think losing all my friends in exchange for my life being saved was too steep a price.