I know that you have not been taking me seriously, so I have decided to spell it out for you. On April 30th 2017, I was in the hospital having overdosed on painkillers. I took them at around 1pm. I had not been drinking. It was logic that led me to this point. I have been feeling low for quite some time now and despite me constant cries for help, I am usually unanswered. I fight on my own. On this particular day, I did try. I told myself outside on a walk. I like to be outside and around nature to feel better. I sat in a tree and I cried and cried. I remembered everything. I remembered all the pain and the hurt. I remember every unbearable pain I have had to experience. You say I should be grateful that I am still here alive. I am grateful for a life. You have to understand though that I have come to a conclusion that I have no future. I have a long, lonely and painful existence ahead of me. I merely exist. I cannot allow people near me or into my space. I long for people and things that are just too far out of reach, because of the person that I have become. I hate myself for being this person. So after the tears would not stop, I went home and I sat in the shower. The pounding in my head was becoming unbearable. The water could not wash away the tears and the pain as it often is able to. So I got out the shower and took the pills. It was meant to be just two, the recommended amount and I would sleep of the headache and drink loads of water. However, an uncontrollable force in me took over and I swallowed the whole strip one after the other. I did not want to hurt myself and this seemed so easy and pain-free. I had not eaten and the first thing I did was go online. I wanted to know what would happen. If I would suffer greatly or die. I knew that I had essentially poisoned myself. The internet was absolutely useless in telling me what would happen so I called a helpline just to enquire about what I could expect to happen before I died. I figured with an overdose, I would have time to write letters and make peace with the goodbye. Instead the woman on the phone got an ambulance to come as close to me as possible and it arrived a few hours later. I had been sleeping and was feeling slightly dizzy and disoriented. They checked my liver and kidneys and gave me an antidote in the hospital for the toxins that were building up in an attempt to break down the pills. They told me they were trying to prevent liver failure. I was completely out of it in the hospital and after a lot of crying and protesting because I hate people touching me, I fell asleep. I screamed at the man who woke me in the night to take my blood pressure. As he was doing it, I saw two women at the end of my bed – the psychiatry team. We went to a room to talk for a while about the goings-on in my head and they let me know that I have a complex array of mental illnesses. I have been this way for quite some time now. The longer it goes on, the more I pretend, the worse it gets. I am breaking down. So whilst you may not want to admit that you have a daughter with a problem, I am here to tell you that you do. I am so ridiculously complicated that they are struggling to determine what is wrong. They have gone from thinking it is post-traumatic stress disorder to depression to psychosis to anxiety to obsessive compulsive disorder to autism spectrum disorder to borderline personality disorder to dissociation to bipolar and they still have no idea what it is. This essentially means that I have no treatment, whilst I receive no support from the people who I thought cared. It is not a joke. It is not something that is all in my head. Logically, I know that I have a great life. I know that I have something to hold onto and achieve if I could only get better. Rational thinking escapes me in these moments. It is not an act of imagination. It is real. It is terrifying. It is the darkness seeping in. Taking over. I lose all control. I have ben going to counselling for a very long time and I continue to relapse back to the darkness. This was not my first attempt at suicide. However, it was the one that got me the attention I needed from services. The attention that I have needed from the people around has not come. I have slipped away each time and continued pretending that I can live like this. The truth is, I cannot survive it not like this. If you cannot understand that I am suffered from a fatal illness, something that is going to kill me, because I will become so exhausted that I stop fighting, that is shocking to me. This is a leading killer in this world. I know that I am so damn strong because as bad as it gets inside, I am still here. I am desperate. I want all the help I can get and that in itself is remarkable. I refuse to suffer in silence anymore. I am here trying not to cause pain to others and that is the only reason I have to fight. Luckily, I have good people in my life so that is a pretty amazing reason. If medication is the answer, I will try it. If it is cognitive behavioural therapy, I will try it. Nothing is working anymore. I have stopped looking after myself and eating well and exercising. I try really hard because I know these things allow me to feel better, but I have no energy and no will anymore. So I need help, desperately. If you cannot understand that then I am shocked. I am ashamed to be your daughter, because althoguh you may be ashamed of me for being this way, your crime is far worse. It is not all in my head. It is not my fault. It is not a phase. I am not weird. I do need help. For now, that is all.
I told myself I would never watch this show. I told myself it would be dangerous. Not suitable for suicide or rape survivors. (I would still advise to survivors to be cautious – there are a lot of triggers.) I have never been able to read or watch anything containing rape. This proved difficult when the book you needed to read was for your final year English exam. I realised though that I am becoming stronger. Even though I am stronger, it is not easy. Especially now. Especially when the suicidal thoughts are back.
I was in the hospital for more assessments and I could not sleep. I was thinking about this show. This show that has had so much attention that I refused to watch. About what it really means. I needed to know. So I came home. Sleep may have be smarter. I had not slept. Instead, I just took the remote and put it on. I was fascinated as I always am with suicide. She describes it so well. The empty. The nothing. Not caring. Not being able to care about anything. There are people who care, but no one cares enough. I am no one’s first choice.
This show makes me mad. It also makes me so happy. Happy that I was able to watch it. I was strong. I am still here. I feel better for it. I watched the pain and suffering. I watched what happens to every person you leave behind. Even those who you think will not be affected. Whilst I am mad that Clay did not speak up, did not tell her that she was his first choice, I love the creation of this character. It is so real. He grieves. He responds as we hope that guys will not, when we reach out and try to be honest. Go away is really a sign that you are hurting. Walking out is a prompt to go after someone. I was mad about the guidance counsellor. I get mad every time people reach out and no one does anything.
Sometimes we need strangers, sometimes we need friends. I found an accuracy in the portrayal of characters. We are all wrapped up in our own things. People slip away. Suicide is one of the biggest killers. It is not cancer. It is depression. We let it happen. This show really shows that there are so many reasons why and we are all reasons why. In everything that we do and do not do, things are set in motion. Silence makes it worse. That is why I write. So whilst I told myself not to watch this show, I am glad I did. It shows all the warning signs. It shows the reality of it.
I do not think that it glorifies suicide. It was difficult to watch. It was brutally honest. It was real. It showed the impact and effects of everything that is done. Once I started I could not stop. I took breaks and as I got further in, I realised I should not be alone. So I moved and continued. I could not stop. I had to know why. Many of the reasons are similar to why I have considered it. I want to know how to overcome, I do not want to go unnoticed. I liked the line suicide is for the weak. I watched how the characters fell apart afterwards. I watched the destruction. I watched not for her, but for him. I fell in love with his character. I watched a girl in desperate need of help. I watched a guy who did not know.
I watched until he found out everything. I had to know everything. I had to see. He did what I could not have expected. People say she did it out of revenge. I do not think she had her mind on that in that moment. She provided an explanation. The best peace of mind that she could provide for those who did not understand. With that explanation, he did so much for her. He suffered and struggled and wanted to die, but lived. He brought crimes into the light. I really fell in love with this character.
If anything, this showed girls in need of help. It showed bullying. It showed how vulnerable teenagers are. It showed how ignorant parents are. It showed why we do not ask for help when we need it most, because the responses really are awful. It did not mention mental illness, but the signs were all there.
“You don’t know what goes on in anyone’s life but your own. And when you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re not messing with just that part. Unfortunately, you can’t be that precise and selective. When you mess with one part of a person’s life, you’re messing with their entire life. Everything affects everything.”
Why people do not get this, I do not know. Why people do not think before their actions, I can never understand. The show was very much about her and her road to suicide, but I think all the characters depicted something. Anxiety and depression and grief and PTSD. It is true that you mess with people’s lives. Now you know about me not trusting people. Now you know about me protecting myself. Maybe, it is a mental illness. I have not been diagnosed with anything. So I cannot tell you for sure. I am getting help. I can tell you that to me, it is real. This is real. Trust is not there. Honesty is not there.
Emptiness is here. I have no hope. I see nothing but pain. I am strong. I will not choose suicide. It begins with thoughts, then attempts until it finally happens. You switch off, you die. Or you fight. You are lost. You do not fit in. But you fight. That is what this show really showed. The difference. It showed that you can live. It showed two different rape stories. It showed different depression stories. It showed bullying. It showed bad and good parenting. It showed choices and it made it clear, it was a choice. It was her choice. Everyone is entitled to choice. It is not a choice that I will make.
You consider it a lot, when you are in the dark, but the light does come. That is the difference. That is what makes me mad. That is what makes me happy. I do consider it. I do not always have the help that I need. I have more than her though. I will never be that lost. I am constantly being found. I am self-motivated. That is all you really need to tell yourself. Sometimes, the only reason is not to cause others pain. You are already in pain, it makes no difference to you. That is a good enough reason for me. It is a reason.
So instead of listing the reasons you want to die, list the reasons not to. Read them over and over. Etch them on your heart. There are always reasons to live. There are always alternatives. My list of names may be smaller, but it is still there. My reasons grow. With every sunset, there is another small glimmer of hope. I hold on to that. Thirteen is my favourite number. So from now on I will tell myself the thirteen reasons why. I will remember the reasons why I live.
It hurts when they ask do you want us to call your parents or do your parents know that you are here. I doubt they would even care. They always say to me snap out of it, pull yourself together be strong. Whilst the doctors are all struggling to determine what is wrong with me, because it is such “a complex array of mental health issues”. Everyone else is concerned. Everyone else can see that I am falling apart. Why do you not take me seriously?
I watch all the other people with their parents, spouses, friends and I wonder where I went wrong. I tried to be kind to people. I wanted to be loved. I wanted people to look out for me. I learnt that I look out for myself. I suppose that it why they say it is emotional instability. Maybe that is why I do not want to be me. I tried, but failed. Now I will try harder. Begin again.
The emotions come back and I always try to dial, send the occasional text. I do not want to cause anyone any pain. It is unbearable. I know that. No one will lose me. I will still be here. My words are every part of me, anyone would want to keep. The mood swings and the glares, I would not even be friends with that. I am constantly reminded about the words. I will always keep the words. They are vulnerably honest. How can you not read it? Believe it. That is the real problem. No one ever believes me. I feel small, silent, unnoticed. Why should what I say matter?
It does. It always does. Opinions. Conversations. Thoughts. That is my definition of expression. That right there is beauty.
There is only one thing that I know for sure. I push people away. I hate people getting too close. I hate it when you feel something for someone else. Loving scares me. I shake all night. I do not rest. I relive traumatic experiences. I scream. I cry. I shake. I sweat. I am restless. All night long. With no one to know. No one to see. I do not know what hurts more – loving or being unable to love. I still do not trust. I still ache.
I am not good at holding on. I let go. I let go of everything. Every few months, I decide that this is not me. I know that something is not right. I know that I have to get up and go. Just start again. Leave it all behind. I am only good for making messes. I wish I could care more. I wish there was more than just me. Love is gone from this body. It will come back. I will find it again, but not here. Not now. I am just not there yet.
I want to apologise to all the people that I have let go. To all those I did not fight for, because there was no fight left in me. I loved you, I really did. Maybe, I am selfish. The problem really is that I am a fighter, a survivor. I am trying to not let this world make me hate. The problem with that is I find hardly any room for love. Only love can drive out hate, though. That is why I am in such turmoil. Such despair.
I ache. I hate this pain. I want to put down this pain. It is worse than any pain I have had to endure. I am so close to giving up. I am strong, but I am so close to breaking. I do not trust people, because they are so quick to not trust you. To let you down. To not be there for you. Things change and then I will break. That is why I have to choose me and always choose me. I am not ready to break.
Today, my heart ached. It ached as it often does and I know always will. It ached for sisters. For women helping women. We are blessed. We are the ones more in touch with our emotions. Often more vulnerable. Often misunderstood. We are women.
I recently learnt the importance of eyes. I avoid eye contact. It turns out you really can see right through a person when you look into their eyes. The term depression eyes is accurate. The vacant stare. The hopelessness. There is nothing behind those eyes. When you recognise that in another, it feels like eyes meeting your own same expression. You relate. You ache. You cannot walk away from that. So you help. In whatever way you can. You talk. That is what I do. That is what I will always do. I will always be that safe place to fall apart. I do not judge. I listen. I feel with you. I sit with you. I put aside myself for you.
Today, I did a very me thing. Suddenly, I felt like me again doing it. I saw those eyes, that expression, that worry, that panic. I sat with it. I spoke and calmed it and read to it. I listened. I sat there being a source of what every young girl needs and I realised, this is what I do, over and over. This is my gift to this world. This is my way of saying thank you for all the lights that have appeared in my life. I have seen so many angels come and go. They inspire me. To never leave a girl alone. To talk. To support. To make her a cup of tea. To buy her chocolate. To give her my time and my attention if that is what she needs. I realise my strength and my kindness in these moments. I realise my gifts. Giving is important.
All that I need sometimes is women helping women. I need to nurture because that way we will all grow together. I choose to pick people up. I choose to walk with them. I choose to ensure people know their importance. I am the stranger that will stop for you on the street and you can come to me, anytime you need. You can cry to me. I am the one who will always pick up the phone. I do not care about sleep or who I am with or what I am doing. I care for others. I will never change that gift. It is one of my favourite things, because it is the thing keeping me alive, after all. I have received more unasked for help than you would believe.
Three failed attempts and now…
Now I am supposed to carry on as
Though everything is right in the world,
When lets face it, nothing is.
So I am still hurting, still dead inside,
Still struggling and that goes unnoticed
Or what, I try again, this time just to
Get the help that I need, just for
The attention that I am never given.
I pick up the phone and never dial,
Over and over again, because how do
You say goodbye – I was never taught,
I never got a single goodbye,
So now I just leave, silently also.
I become unable to ask for the help
That I so desperately need,
Still empty inside, I think there
Are no words left in me,
Apart from the poetry, there is always
The poetry, so I am living and instead
Of dying, I will run far, far away from
Here and just, begin again.
- Wanting that which you cannot have
- Having a fear of intimacy
- Loving someone
- Finding it hard to believe someone that says nice things
- Feeling out of place
- Thinking it would be better if you were dead
- Caring too much
- When your tears at night go unnoticed, even though the other person is awake
- People that do not understand you
- Falling apart in the shower every day
- Keeping the hurt to yourself out of fear
- Feeling disappointed in yourself
- Unanswered cries for help
- Memories of that which you cannot get back
- Memories that you hope will never come back but continue to haunt you
- Not being asked how your day was
- Knowing that there are people out there who could understand me better than anyone, that I may never meet
I am angry because I have come to realise that this is not the first time I have been depressed. I do not even think that this is the lowest I have been in my life. This just happens to be the first time that I am able to put words onto my predicament. This is the first time I can speak eloquently about triggers and warning signs, coping mechanisms and low mood.
Considering all the childhood trauma, I am surprised that no one was keeping an eye on me. No one was waiting for the day that I eventually exploded. I was exposed to far too much. Unfortunately, it is far too common in modern times that so much is overlooked. You turn 18 and suddenly you are an adult with no support system, struggling. Spending everyday just surviving. Barely managing to cope and suddenly they want you to get a job and pay bills and cook and support yourself. They never prepared us for this.
I have considered the possibility that writing causes depression, but then I see what happens when I stop. There is nothing left. Just more pain. Unexpressed.
It makes me angry that 50% of all the victims of sexual violence will experience another event in their life. Why does no one tell us that? Why do they not prepare us? We already make our bomb shelters and shut off from the world and in doing that we may still get hurt, because there is some kind of appeal in that which you cannot have. It makes me angry that people think it is the same as sex. That people can honestly say discussions about it make them feel uncomfortable. Well what about the people who had to go through it, how do you think it makes them feel? It is not the same as sex. That sentence makes me hate. As much as I do not want to hate. As much as I think this world has too much hate. That sentence hurts.
The way people react to milk and honey tells me so much about them, their views on sexual abuse. It is not taboo. It is real. If we cannot discuss it then I want nothing to do with you. I have so much to say and I will not be silenced.
It makes me angry that type A people do not understand. I know they cannot relate. I know that there are more than two types of people in the world, but to simplify it, these are the ones I hate to talk to. These are the ones who tell me to pull it together and make a plan. The ones that tell me to do something with my life. The ones who do not understand survival. When you are simply surviving, success is unattainable.
I never know what to do with my anger. I sometimes let it go. I sometimes release it. Right now, I am hurting. When I am not angry, I am hurting, because everything seems unexplained. So where do you go from this? How do you move forward from anger?
Did you know that we would be friends?
I have insight, I always think I have
Special powers, but I am the crazy one,
After all. I knew. I definitely knew.
I knew everyday that I thought about you
Even though I never saw or spoke to you.
It is like being drawn to a person,
Without any inkling of the reasons why.
It happens with me a lot – my empathetic
Powers are always drawing me to people.
I trust it, more than any other part of myself
Because although it may seem insane,
Sometimes, my instincts are right. Sometimes,
A person responds…maybe you never see
Them again, but maybe you do and maybe
They change you, they help you, you grow
Together, watering each other. That is what
I know. I know myself. I know empathy.
I know connections and the power of people.
I know very clearly how I feel and people
Always wonder about that – how I became so
In touch with my emotions, but I fought, hard.
I fought to not shut down, to stay with this
World and to learn everything I could,
Including how to feel. Maybe that is why I am
So emotional, so caring, so invested.
I am a drowning soul in this universe, in
Search of all the other souls that I can save,
Just as I was saved, no one else should have
To drown, especially not within themselves.
I know intelligence, I know remarkable,
I know when you think you may not
Come across something again that you
Should grab it, hold it and if it lets go,
Then you accept it, but if it works then look
At what you achieved through your never
Letting go of a person: look at a friendship.
I woke up, unable to believe. I was still empty. I had no excitement or anticipation. I simply had the feeling that this was not real. This could not be real. It was too easy. It must be a dream. I thought for sure that I would wake up. Or that something would definitely go wrong and I would end up crying my eyes out. I did end up crying my eyes out but for all the right reasons.
I got up, got ready, packed milk and honey, with my letter in the cover and got on the train in the pouring rain, with the hope that I would be able to feel. With a hope that I would get everything that I have been dreaming about. I wanted to enjoy it, but there was so much going wrong and so I distracted myself. I found Taiwanese vegan food and handmade jewellery and vegan ice cream and second hand books. I really treated myself, with the hope that if anything went wrong, something had already gone right. The hours went by quickly and before I knew it, we were getting on the bus.
On the bus, I felt the tears. With only thirty minutes to go, it began to feel real. It began to feel like I had made it to this moment. I had struggled for those two weeks that I thought were going to be easy. Somehow, though, somehow I managed to keep myself alive. Really, I knew how. I knew it was because of this moment. I fought in that hospital, because of this moment. I fought every time the darkness showed up, because I wanted the light. I wanted the happiness. The dread came back. The dread when the campus was empty. The dread when there was hardly anyone in the lecture theatre. Then we were reassured when they threw us out, so that she could do sound check that she was actually there. I could not do anything in these moments. It was a long wait and I could not think or speak or even cry. I just waited patiently. I waited like the child who has been told to be well-behaved so is sat quietly in the corner, whilst everything inside is screaming. I felt a hurricane of emotions. Excitement and anticipation. An anxiousness and nervousness that comes with waiting. I felt tearful and thankful that this moment has come. I am honestly overjoyed, overwhelmingly happy. That is it. That is the real emotion, the real power. Happiness. Joy. Peace. I am happy.
I was so happy. I clung onto every moment. Nothing could take it away. Nothing could tear me down. It was beautiful and hilarious. Meaningful and so casual. I felt so lucky to be there. I knew why I was here. I knew in every word that I heard. I knew that I was alive, that I was complete. After, the show, she stamped our books, due to her broken hand and we were able to have pictures taken. I handed her my letter, the one that I have been holding onto for months, that I felt compelled to write on that sunny day. I was shaking and I could not stop the tears, I could hardly breathe. All I said was, ‘You are beautiful as well as exquisite. You are both.’ and she said you are beautiful too. I explained that I felt stifled and overwhelmed so I did not know what to say and she said that she understood and from one writer to another that sometimes it is better to write it down. She hid me from the crowds as I cried and made me laugh. It felt like a dream. The very best kind. The kind where you are so happy and nothing can take it away.
I left still clinging to these moments. To all the words. I wrote the entire train ride home. I wrote down all the truths that she had shared. I felt one thing. I felt complete. I felt as though I had achieved something. When you write to people, you post it. This, this I had been holding on to. This letter to Rupi Kaur, with no address. Then two weeks ago, I bought the tickets and I realised my moment would come. I thought that maybe I should rewrite it. It was just on a page out of my notebook, from when I was meant to be studying. I shoved it into an envelope with a poem. I held on and then just like that, I let it go and now I feel complete. That is what she taught me. It is not about the fact that I got to touch a celebrity. It is the words. The words that every survivor needs to hear. Some things they do not end you. Some things you live through and then what. We are taught to hide, we are taught to be ashamed.
That is why I say thank you for milk and honey. Thank you for being the arms that held me as I cried, quite literally this time and the words that will forever continue to soothe my soul, especially on the days when it becomes difficult to see clearly.