This is the year I am 7 years clean from self-harm and suicidal thoughts. It stemmed from insecurities I had in myself, the way I thought people viewed me and pressures I felt were being put on me. I wanted to be enough for someone, for everyone. When the self-harm started, I was in middle school. This is a time when most people see a rise in students feeling depressed, or see issues with their grades faltering, maybe they aren’t eating as much, or they're being less social with their peers. This wasn’t the case for me. I knew I was good at hiding my emotions, so that’s what I did. I pretended like everything was okay, and behind closed doors, only I knew about what was going on. A lot of middle schoolers face hardships when they’re very young, and though mine did not include those traumas most face, I did feel like I was alone. I felt worthless, like nobody cared about me, whether I was hurting or if I would even continue to want to live. Despite knowing that I was hiding this, I still thought that if someone cared they’d notice and would want to help me. I held in pains of feeling like my parents were never proud of me, the loss of my beloved first dog, the sting of being broken up with, and generally hating my appearance. I didn’t think anyone would or could ever love me for who I was because I felt I was worth nothing. I remember thinking “Who am I kidding, how could anyone ever care for someone like me? Look at me, I have acne, I’m fat, my hair is too curly. No wonder my boyfriend dumped me.” It was a low point in my life and unfortunately the only relief I got was causing more pain in a more physical form. It was one day, February 26th exactly that I got a call from my friend in the morning, who pretty much said “I know your secret, pack your things for 1 day, my mom and I are going to pick you up.” I was in complete shock, because how could anyone have ever noticed, I was so careful to never reveal too much; and for other reasons beside my utter shock, I was reluctant to go. When she picked me up, I was still in shock, so I spent the car ride wondering how this happened, and though I told myself that if someone cared they would notice, I still didn’t understand how she had noticed. We stopped at the school which belonged to my church and we got off. Once we walked inside, I remember her mom hugging me, and telling me not to worry about the cost for this, that she went ahead and covered me. She then saw the look of horror on my face and told me that my mom didn’t know my secret, and she would keep it for me until I was ready to let her know. Her mom had left us, and we walked inside the school’s gym, and I was greeted by another one of my friends as we began to sit down. They explained to me I was at a church retreat for the Edge youth group, and immediately I wanted to run out of there. I was never one to really even like going to church at that point, much less a group meant to revolve around God himself. I didn’t realize it until then, but that partially was because I was so angry with Him, that He let this happen to me, that He didn’t care to send me help. I wanted to bolt. I felt completely out of place, and then the most fond memory I have of this day happened. My friend who brought me, the one who paid for me to be there, the one who saw the pain I had been hiding; she grabbed me by the arms and said this line to me which I will never forget. “Nicole, you’re in pain. You need help. I know you don’t like it but today you’re gonna sit there, and you’re gonna like it.” I didn’t know what to do. I felt bad that her mom spent the money for me to be here, so the least I could do was try. I had other plans for this day, but thankfully this turned out to be better by a mile. I listened to talks people shared, I heard their stories, and understood the love they had. I spent the whole day feeling okay, and finally, God gave me that help I had been asking for. A young girl went up to share her story, and as she spoke, I felt her words being directed to me as if they were meant only for me. She told her story, a story similar to mine. I then knew I as not alone, I felt like I was not alone. I listened to her, and cried as she let her words spill out and fill the space around me. I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders, and I now had someone to talk to. She played this video, I’m sure at some point most everyone now has seen. It was a play done by another youth group done to the song Everything by Life House. It changed my perspective on life, and the current status of my faith. I was able to then talk to the girl who spoke, and she told me it was going to be okay. I was going to be okay. She told me there were other ways out, and they didn’t have to be this painful. February 26th, 2011; I planned on taking my life. Instead, God had a different plan, and 7 years later, I’m still here and more than happy to be here.
Thanks to this moment in my life, I’ve gained the courage to eventually lead retreats myself, and talk to kids who are going through a similar situation. I’ve been able to guide them out of that darkness, and I could never be more grateful for anything else. To my best friend Andrea, thank you for noticing. To my best friend Karrie, thank you for not running away after you found out that day. To Andrea’s mom, thank you for being selfless and helping a little girl that wasn’t your own.
7 years ago, I didn’t think I would still be here, and so I know that younger version of myself is proud I still am. For that, I am grateful. This was my story.
To anyone suffering, or thinking there’s no other way out; please seek help. It does not have to be a youth group, or finding God. Reach out to an adult you trust and let them know what you’re dealing with. Talk to your parents and friends. You are never alone.
For those who may be around someone who is self-harming, keep an eye out on their behaviors and look out for them. As mentioned before, some behaviors may include seeing them feel more down, seeing a change in their grades at school in a negative way, seeing a poor change in eating habits, and see less social interaction with others. Some other behaviors also include wearing a lot of sweaters, long sleeves, or excessive jewelry on their arms; sad or worrying posts online, or something as small as a change in music taste to something more melancholy. Please look out for signs, they are everywhere. Deep down, it’s a call for help. Please answer it.
If you, or someone you know is suffering from self-harm or thoughts of suicide; please reach out to an adult or you can contact any of the following hotlines for help!
Stay strong, you are worth being on this earth. Everything will be okay, please continue to write your story.