It’s me, and I’m still pissed. Hell, after everything, I’m not quite certain you even exist. Well, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking… even did a lot of research, meditating, and soul searching, and my theory is that you aren’t so much a He or even a being at all. Tons of people believe in something; some higher power to save us all, give us hope, tell us the meaning of life, and love us unconditionally. You may go by different names such as: God, Buddha, Allah, or maybe even The Force! Well, I’m coming to the conclusion that you’re essentially energy (for lack of a better term) of formidable powerful and way more complex than what our creative brains could ever comprehend, or try to make sense of. An energy that we can even sometimes feel, like a presence. I’ve felt that presence more than once before, and it was truly incredible. For a moment, it was like everything was okay, it was peaceful and oddly comforting and for that moment, I was hopeful and I believed everything would be okay. But, it wasn’t, and I wasn’t.
You allowed horrible things to happen to my family, particularly to my dad, which the repercussions continued all throughout my childhood and teenage years. It affected us all very differently then and still does even to this day. A stupid bicycle accident, and lives were ruined, before they even started. We were all good people, we went to church, we prayed, we did everything right, but nothing changed. The seizures got progressively worse as I got a little older. They happened so frequently to my dad, that it quickly became a big part of my life; it became my normal.
“Your father had another grand mal seizure while driving and hit a bus. I’m going to the E.R. with him,” my mom told tell me on the phone in the school office.
“Okay, I’ll just go to my friend April’s house after school. See you all at home later or when you pick me up later tonight.”
That’s basically the conversation summed up. In one ear and out the other. No feelings, no worry, no stress, no pain, no emotions; nothing. That’s how I got through it, time and time again. Details would change, like what was happening when it happened, where he was, which bones he broke or dislocated and the location of numerous new bruises. The important part was that he would always come home and I would see him again. I had no clue how all of this was impacting me, and how it would continue to affect me through my adult years.
Over two decades later, at a special place for people who struggle, my psychotherapist introduced me to a new term: dissociation. What a powerful and useful coping mechanism for dealing with long-term trauma! If you’re not familiar with the term, dissociation for me was like I was detached from myself, my family, and my emotions. Severe memory loss, which I still suffer from as well as my inability to cope well with professional or emotional stress. The memory loss is super fun! Like when randomly out of thin air, I can’t remember my best friend’s name, a close relative’s name, or something I was told not two seconds prior, especially when they say, “What do you mean you don’t remember?! We were just talking about it.” I’ve just started telling people to just call me Dory so they don’t press it any further.
My world was a mess; it was like hell on some days and like a slow burn on most of the others. I hated being home most of the time, particularly as I started to learn how unnormal my family was. Even on “normal” days, everyone’s stress levels were constantly at the tipping point. There was no one to talk to about any of it and eventually I became deeply angry and severely depressed. I didn’t even know what depression was or that I was depressed until much later on in life.
What I needed more than anything was for someone to hug me, like really hug me, and tell me everything will be okay, and that I am safe and loved. But that didn’t happen, or if it did, the memory has been completely blocked. I needed this more and more as time passed. My mom was so busy taking care of my dad, keeping a roof over our heads, and just trying to get through each day. Looking back now, I don’t know how she did it all and how she managed dealing with everything on her own. She is one of the strongest people I know. I also think the dissociation became very strong in her. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen her cry, not even at her sister’s funeral. Thoughts, feelings, and emotions were simply not something that was talked about, or even really existed in our house. We went along pretending that life was normal, but it wasn’t, and I knew it all too well. If I felt anything it was alone and empty; I’ve become good friends with them both over the years. I guess it kept me from completely falling apart.
I remember going to the counselor’s office pretty frequently throughout elementary school. I looked forward to these visits; it was the only time I truly felt safe, special, happy and peaceful. She was the nicest person I had ever met. Often I would pick a board game and we’d just play for as long as I could. Sometimes she would ask me questions, questions that made me deeply uncomfortable and anxious, questions I wanted to avoid. Perhaps part of that was because I just didn’t know and had no self awareness whatsoever. I didn’t know how I felt, I didn’t even really know or understand what feelings were anyways. Sometimes though, we would just sit there and play, like two friends; candyland will always have a special place in my heart.
When I started dating, my walls became weak. All I wanted was to feel cared for, safe, and loved. And when I got that, I fell head over heels… my hero. Years later, my high school sweetheart and hero came to my house, and told me he couldn’t be in a serious relationship anymore, and that he was moving to Ohio. It broke me. I still remember the days, weeks and months after like it was yesterday. I experienced my first panic attack during this time. The depression hit me harder than ever. I stopped eating and became anorexic for a period. I physically could not be around food without feeling sick. I eventually was fired from my job. I was lost and more alone than ever.
Church was a nice escape for me. It was free and fun and I finally felt like I belonged. I desperately wanted just a little bit of normal in my life and to get out of the hell house. I constantly prayed for my dad, my mom, and my brother. Every night, I prayed for things to get better, for my dad to get better, for us to just be a normal family. I prayed for strength, for guidance, for help, for change. It never came.
Do you want to hear a deep, dark secret I’ve never told anyone before?
I thought about death a lot; how long would it take for someone to even notice, would anyone even care or miss me, would it make things easier for my mom if she didn’t have to deal with me and my outbursts of anger? Would the pain finally go away? I wondered if you allowed people who take their own life through those pearly gates. I doubted it, the South was full of both very conservative and very judgemental Christians and that’s just the way things were. Ironic huh? Judgemental Christians. Ha! What a small world I lived in.
I constantly thought about killing myself too. I thought about slitting my wrists and bleeding out in a tub, like you see on tv, but the thought of all the blood made me queasy. So instead, I decided to take a bottle of pills and hoped for the sweet release of death to take me swiftly, but it didn’t. It wouldn’t be the last time either. Over the years, I decided I wanted to go by train, just staring into the light, almost like the light at the end of the tunnel, poetic almost, and then it’s all over. Finally free. Lucky or maybe unlucky for me, I never told a soul and not a soul ever found out. Maybe things would’ve been better if they had… maybe I would’ve gotten some real help, or maybe I would’ve just been the crazy girl who couldn’t even kill herself and ended up in the loony bin. I wanted help, I needed help. I needed someone to see my cries for help, someone to care, someone to actually notice how much pain I was really in. Someone who saw me for what I was, which was nothing. I never shared this either.
I buried myself in writing and in music. It kept me sane. I read a lot. I wrote constantly. I journaled, wrote short stories, poems, and even songs which were mostly about death, rejection and pain. High school band got me out of the house and away from the craziness. I was good too. When I didn’t have after school practices, I usually stayed later to play around on the marimba (you’re awesome if you know what that is! If not, you should look it up). I’d be there for hours just playing around and practicing. I would get lost in the music. It was a beautiful thing.
It was so helpful and important that I had a creative outlet I could throw myself into, and a way to feel and express deeply repressed emotions in safe doses and in a beautiful way. Singing was also a way to do this. I’ve always loved to sing; only was two best friends knew this about me then and only a few people know that now. Music cuts through all of your walls and all the bullshit and you are left raw and vulnerable. The beautiful thing is that who you really are and how you truly feel is finally revealed.
“Where words fail, music speaks.” -Hans Christian Anderson
Why do bad things happen to good people? I’m sure people ask you this all the time. I still haven’t figured that one out. All I know is throughout my whole life, I’ve believed and put all of my hope and faith into this almighty, powerful, and supposedly loving and forgiving God. Every time I was at a breaking point, at my lowest and in desperate need of just the slightest glimmer of hope, it never came. I was alone, just like I’ve always been. But for some reason, I kept praying, unsure if I was just talking to myself or if indeed there was some higher being watching over me.
As human beings, we constantly push ourselves too hard, striving for perfection; to be who we were told to be, do what we were told to do, and believe everything we were made to believe. Well, let me ask you this: how many of your beliefs can you honestly say are 100% your own, without anyone else’s opinion or influence? I was taught to believe in God from a very young age; I basically grew up in a church. Sunday school, youth group, bible study, potlucks, fundraisers, and even a mission trip to Germany. I was told what to believe and expected to do so and live my life according to other people’s beliefs, never having room for my own. Now I do. Now I know better than that.
Okay, here we go…
Dear God, or whatever,
Where do I even begin? Where were you when I needed you most? My faith in you has withered away over the years and is pretty much non-existent at this point, but feel free to change that at any time.
Why me? Why my family? I sometimes wonder how things would be different had that accident never happened. I’m starting to see different interests, hobbies, and personality traits I get from my dad, and I can honestly say I’m proud of that now. I use to be so ashamed and embarrassed of my family. How people stared and had these judgemental looks on their faces. Or when we were out in public and he had a seizure. Then the ambulance and all the people would come and there was an audience just watching. And me, I don’t even know where I was or what I was doing, let alone feeling. I can’t remember what it felt like either. I just know that now, after so much time has gone by, I just want to feel safe, loved, and cared for and to never lose that feeling.
Maybe you have some grand plan to turn my pain into my purpose. Maybe you see something I don’t, or something in me I don’t. Maybe I’m just wasting my time and my energy wishing for something that doesn’t exist. Cause if you did, why couldn’t you at least give me a little piece of happiness, a shred of hope, someone constant that was there for me that I could reach out to and they’d actually be there for me? I didn’t think that was asking too much, but what do I know about that… Well, here’s my last request: to fully heal, inside and out; To live a life full of joy, purpose, excitement, hope, love, and peace. To leave stress, fear, grief, anger, resentment, and uncertainty behind and to step into my true self, and to get an even better idea of what that looks like for me. If nothing else, this is a letter to myself, but I’ll keep a lookout for signs, for hints, direction and guidance. I’ll let go of my fear and uncertainty and just jump. It may not be because of you, but I somehow know that through action, trial and error and faith that this can’t be it, that there is something much bigger and better out there for me. I just have to figure that out and get a clearer picture of it and never stop working towards it and never give up no matter how hard it gets. If nothing else, I’ve learned I can handle extreme levels of torment, torture and turmoil. I’ve survived somehow through it all; I’m still here through it all. That’s gotta mean something right?
Still seeking answers,
To my incredible readers:
I want to remind you as well, that YOU are still here too! You are still here for a reason, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. Think on that for a second and be grateful for the precious life you’ve been given. You have something in you the world needs. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, to try something new, don’t be afraid of the challenges that help turn you into who you want to become. No one has the answers for you, but perhaps the answers have been within you all along. I have faith in you and in your ability to keep fighting and make a difference. The most important thing is to have faith in yourself.
Peace and love,
Suicide is serious and should never be taken lightly. It may feel like the only way to find peace and for the pain to stop, but it’s not. It’s selfish and the cowards way out. You do more damage and cause more pain than you could possibly imagine. Think for a minute about those closest to you: family, friends, even pets. Suicide has a devastating effect on everyone around you, especially those that love and care about you as. There is always someone who cares, you just may not know it yet and there is always a solution, you just may not see it yet. Sometimes we just need a different perspective or to know that you are not alone and that so many people share similar feelings. Talk to someone you trust or to someone from one of the resources provided below. Even just having someone else tell you it’s going to be okay, that you’re going to be okay, can make all the difference.
If You Or Someone you Know is in Crisis: Call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) at 1–800–273–TALK (8255), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to everyone. The deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1–800–799–4889. All calls are confidential. Contact social media outlets directly if you are concerned about a friend’s social media updates or dial 911 in an emergency. Learn more on the NSPL’s website. The Crisis Text Line is another resource available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Text “HOME” to 741741.
Looking for a mental health provider in your area?
For general information on mental health and to locate treatment services in your area, call the
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Treatment Referral Helpline
at 1–800–662–HELP (4357). SAMHSA also has a Behavioral Health Treatment Locator on its
website that can be searched by location.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US.
In 2017 47,173 Americans died by suicide.
In 2017, there were an estimated 1,400,000 suicide attempts.
What Are the Warning Signs of Suicide?
The behaviors listed below may be signs that someone is thinking about suicide.
- Talking about wanting to die or wanting to kill themselves
- Talking about feeling empty, hopeless, or having no reason to live
- Planning or looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online, stockpiling pills, or newly acquiring potentially lethal items (e.g., firearms, ropes)
- Talking about great guilt or shame
- Talking about feeling trapped or feeling that there are no solutions
- Feeling unbearable pain, both physical or emotional
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Using alcohol or drugs more often
- Acting anxious or agitated
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Changing eating and/or sleeping habits
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Taking risks that could lead to death, such as reckless driving
- Talking or thinking about death often
- Displaying extreme mood swings, suddenly changing from very sad to very calm or happy
- Giving away important possessions
- Saying goodbye to friends and family
- Putting affairs in order, making a will
These resources are from National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL).