1 in 12 teens attempt suicide every year in the United States.
This is her story.
I was sixteen years old and I wanted to die.
Not because the emotionally abusive jerk I had been dating dumped me for the third time, not because my mother had started taking more of her prescription pain medication than recommended, and not because I was failing geometry. I wanted to die because I already felt dead inside, so why not go for a matching set?
Then I met him.
He was three years older than me, and at the time that made him seem like the most mature of adults. He wasn't, of course, but when you're smacked by love at first sight you think up all sorts of nonsense.
For a while, life seemed better. I could forget the slurred speech at home, the disappointed voice of my band director, even the gnawing little voice that said it would be so nice to just cut yourself a little bit more because no one would notice. All my focus was on this great guy who loved me, no matter what.
Then the dark thoughts came back.
It didn't matter that I was in love, or that The Dad had finally stopped cleaning his guns whenever my guy came over, or even that I was finally passing all my classes and had my music down pat. The dark thoughts come back, and being happy only makes them worse. Because if it's so dark when you're happy, how much darker is it going to be when you aren't?
I had a bottle of pills - I can't remember if they were mine or hers - and I was holding them in my hand when he called. He said he was just thinking about me and wanted to talk. It hit me then that if I gave in to the dark thoughts, I would never see him again.
You know how they tell teenagers that suicide isn't like the movies? That you're not around to see how much everyone misses you? I couldn't have cared less about any of that, but the thought that I'd never hear his voice again shook me.
I broke down and told him what I was planning.
He told me he was coming over, not to do anything until he got there. I told him I would try, but I didn't know if I could be strong enough.
Then I hung up.
We lived in a semi-shady part of town that had a police station and an EMS station just around the block so when he called 911, they didn't have far to drive at all. The police arrived with an ambulance hot on their heels, knocking on my door in that authoritative way you see on television, ready to break it down if I didn't answer.
The police asked if I was all right, if I had taken any pills. I told them the truth; I had flushed them down the toilet as soon as I got off the phone with my boyfriend. Just as they were telling the ambulance that they weren't needed, said boyfriend came tearing around the corner in his truck.
Things moved very quickly after that. The police took my name and statement, gave me a lecture about dating a nineteen year old (apparently saving my life wasn't a good enough recommendation for them), and left me with my boyfriend. He didn't yell at me or tell me off, he just held me and apologized for calling 911, but he was afraid he would lose me. I told him I wasn't angry and that I would always be grateful for what he'd done.
I still am.
I married that guy six months ago. We haven't had the easiest life together but we're still just as in love as we were the day we sat on the sofa together and he told me that no matter how bad things get, he'll always be there for me.
I still believe him.
He hasn't let me down.
My Sophomore year of high school has not been going the way I wanted.
This year, I've lost all my best friends, had rumors circulating about me while my ex-boyfriend made a fool out of me.
First of all, I admit that I've made to many mistakes - I don't know what to do anymore. My mistakes continue to haunt me - I just want to get rid of them for good.
Let's see, where to start... One of my best friends, we'll call her Abby lost her virginity (basically a one night stand) at the end of Freshman year to this kid that she liked. I don't think he, one of my ex-boyfriend's best friends, gave a damn about her.
During that summer, one stupid night I hooked up with the kid "Abby" lost her virginity to. I never had the courage to tell her because I knew she'd have been mad. I wish I hadn't, but kept it from her for so long.
I did tell another friend what had happened - she's always been two-faced, but I thought she'd changed. Guess not. She told Abby that we'd hooked up and Abby was beyond mad at me. It was awful, and Abby still hasn't forgiven me - she thinks we'd had sex - but we DIDN'T! It makes me wonder why people believe rumors without understanding that most aren't true.
Later, during Sophomore year, I started having problems with my ex-boyfriend Ryan, who I hadn't talked to since we'd broken up in August. Ryan and I hung out one night and started talking about everything - we each wanted different things. We ended up having sex that night.
I feel like I sound like such a whore, but I'm in love with him - I'd do anything to get him. My mom found out what had happened and told him to never talk to me again, as she knew that he made me more and more depressed. She hated how sad I was when he wasn't around.
During the school year, I was finally done with Ryan's shit. He drives by my house all the time with his sexy car pumping his music. Being stupid, I went on Twitter and tweeted "get over yourself #realtiycheck."
Eventually, he found out that my tweet was about him and he kept tweeting at me, calling a sloot, slut, whore and everything else you could think of. I blocked him. I didn't wanna see his shit anymore and I didn't want him to see mine.
Am I wrong for blocking him on Twitter?
He made it such a big deal about me blocking him - when he found out, he tweeted, "oh nooo, she blocked me #coughcough#sloot"
Real mature. He'd have to have gone on my Twitter profile to see that I'd blocked him - maybe he was creeping on me and noticed that I'd blocked him. I don't know. I felt like that was a little too far.
I know Twitter can cause a lot of shit, but one night, the hashtag trending was #letsmakeitawkward, so everyone tweeted about awkward relationships or breakups. That night, my best friend texted me, asking, "can I tweet: #letsmakeitawkward Taylor and Ryan." I told her, sure, go for it - that'd be hilarious!
Well, Ryan apparently didn't think that was funny. Half an hour later, he tweeted "#letsmakeitawkward Taylor and the whole high school"
That hurt me so much that it's not even funny. Ryan doesn't know who I've hooked up with or know what's going on in my life. I cried until three AM on a school night - my mom made me go to school the next day.
It felt awful and so, so low.
While I'd been less depressed, I became depressed again. That was the last fight I'd had with Ryan, except the time I drunk-texted him, flipping my shit. He didn't say anything but "fuck you," which he blamed on a girl texting me from his phone.
Last weekend was the worst weekend yet, and I feel so stupid.
Saturday night I was at my friend Jill's house with Hannah and Krista. Now, my parents don't like Jill or Krista because they think they are bad kids and do things that I use to do (even though I still do them).
That night, Jill was taking some shots, but I was didn't do any. Later, her friend Austin - who's also a Sophomore - came to pick us up. We all got in and started driving around. Austin, being stupid, was pulled over for going 70 in a 30 MPH road. When the police officer asked for his license and he said he didn't have one.
I freaked out.
I'd had no idea he didn't have his license. That night, Austin got arrested for steeling his MOM'S BOYFRIEND'S CAR! So fucking stupid - driving without a license WITH alcohol in the car. Everyone had to blow into a breathalyzer - I was the only one who didn't blow over 0.0000 because I hadn't had anything to drink.
Unfortunately, that means that I have to go to court for being in the car with an unlicensed driver. My mom has told me I can't hang out with my best friend Hannah since she got arrested - which, UNFAIR. Totally not my fault. Taking away my best friend is like taking away the only thing that makes me happy right now.
I'm telling you - my Sophomore year cannot get any worse.
(thanks for listening, The Band. Much love to you all!)
As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20.
Do you have life lessons that would have helped you through a difficult time?
Share those with The Band as you write a letter to your younger self.
Dear Little Me,
First, I want you to keep playing outside by yourself in your own little world you created when you were five. Never stop, even when you are twenty-one.
Second, here are some things you need to know for the future. I wish I could tell you everything will be as great as you imagine it will be, but really, the last time you will be this happy is now, when you are seven.
I hope you remember to enjoy the time you have living in Connecticut, it will be the last time you spend that much time with Granddad. Connecticut will become one of the best teachers you ever have, but it will be much harder than you think it will be.
I want you to breathe.
Moving back to New Mexico will be hard, but breathe. Don't give up on math, actually get the nerve to admit you don't know what they're talking about anymore. You are always safe.
Middle school is horrible. Sorry, but it's true. Don't forget to hug Granddad the summer before seventh grade and tell him you love him, and talk to him on Christmas. That will be the last time you talk to him.
Enjoy Molly and Jack more, they are the best friends you ever will have. You will be petting Jack when he dies, and you will be with Molly when she is put down. Be brave, little me, and do not be afraid to cry.
Fight more in Dance, and enjoy it. All the dreams you have will not happen, you will end up getting hurt and look back and wish you'd done things differently. Don't take your anger out on anyone, just remember to enjoy dancing. You are so much more than just a dancer. Do not base all your joy on the next level, dance for fun first, and try to breathe. Dance will also give you Cat, and you have no idea how important she will be to you yet.
Sorry, but it does. Don't give up though. You are SO much smarter than what people say you are. Mum will do some fighting, but YOU must follow through. Feel free to be a little bit of a bitch, some teachers will always knock you down. Try harder and stay in a language class, you will wish you had when you are older. But most of all, ENJOY it more. High school is so hard, but it's also a lot of fun, and I wish you'll have more fun, and less depression.
Tell Mum about your depression sooner. You will get to feel more like yourself sooner.
Do NOT trust Chip. EVER. He will be the thing you wish you could change. He is a liar and a cheater, and not worth the pain. Walk away from him that night, do not talk to him.
Stay away from TJ. Trust your instincts.
Spend more time with Mum. All those times you brushed her off, you fought with her, told her next year, planned on doing things in the future will not happen. Always tell her how much you love her and what she means to you. You will realize just how much you wish you'd told her... but it will be too late.
I wish I could tell you life will be great. I wish I could tell you everything will be okay, but I don't know that. I can tell you one thing though; when you hold Grace in your arms for the first time, all this pain, all this anger, all this self hate goes away. In the end, when you watch her sleep, you know it was worth it. She is everything. Remember that.
I wish I could tell you Mum meets her, but she doesn't. Dad will never leave you nor stop loving you, so don't hide that you miss Mum. It hurts, and it's okay to show it.
Play strong, little me.
Life is great, but when drama invades, remember how to play. It will keep you sane. Enjoy being outside and playing on the beach, enjoy climbing trees and rocks, enjoy life. It will be hard, but it's worth it. So keep on dreaming and playing. Somehow, I know it will be okay.
Your Older Self
Many mental health disorders first present during the teen years. While roughly 20% of teens have a diagnosable mental health disorder, the desire to fit in - to be "normal" - can outweigh the desire to focus on mental health. This month, Band Back Together is bringing light to teen mental health in our spotlight series.
Are you a teen struggling with mental health issues?
Are you a teen who is simply struggling?
Are you a parent of a teen who has struggled with any type of mental health issue?
Today, I spent most of my time at my old church, the place where my life was shattered for the first time.
There, I was harassed by the adults, beaten by my brother and his friends, and rejected by my best friends. I later found out it was a result of my mother’s affair with another father at the church. We didn’t leave church, we were kicked out, and I couldn’t tell anyone. No one in my family knew about this except, of course, my mother.
That's when my depression hit.
I think I was stronger back then.
Back then I hid my emotional pain well. No one knew that I cried myself to sleep every night. No one knew that I hated myself for not knowing what was the right thing to do with painful information. No one knew that I carried a plastic bag full of various pills as a back up plan to escape the world if/when it became too much.
Fast-forward and I have accumulated many more battle wounds. With every secret, five more resulted. I've lived a lie for what seems like my whole life. I've been hurt so many times that I grew too weak and tired to keep going, keep fighting. All I wanted was silence -
No, I wanted nothingness. No bad, no good, no pain, no joy, no light, no sound, no feeling, nothing. I wanted everything to cease to exist. So I mustered every last bit of strength and tried to kill myself.
I waited a few months, and I tried again. I failed again, but this time I was sent to a psychiatric unit.
I eventually got out and six months later (approximately four weeks ago) I gathered all my medications. They'd tried to fix me, because everything was “all in my head."
So I gathered up my anti-depressants and said my apologies to a few people. I called the one person who had any faith in me. My teacher, my mentor, my best friend. I didn’t know how to thank him, I didn’t know what to do. Nothing I could do would make it all right.
“I- I’m sorry.”
I hung up. He called back. I didn’t pick up the phone, instead I picked up my bottle of water and some pills.
Another pill, and another, and another, another… another… another.
Suddenly, I felt nothing. I felt no pain, no emotion, nothing. While it may not make sense, there was so much nothingness that I didn’t enjoy the nothingness, but I didn’t not enjoy it either. Finally, nothing.
I woke up.
Three days later, I woke up. I heard someone, who I later discovered was the doctor, say that I should be dead. He looked at me, shook his head, and walked out.
I was confused.
I was in pain, had several needles in each arm. My body was covered in purple and yellow bruises. I couldn’t move my legs more than an inch, it took too much effort. What I remember most, was that I was so thirsty. My mouth was incredibly dry. It hurt and I constantly gagged, unable to speak. I wasn’t allowed to drink or eat anything.
I couldn’t protest, I was too tired.
The days went by fairly quickly - I didn’t remember much of it. Then I was sent to another psychiatric unit. I could feel the tears falling down my face as they rolled me into the ambulance to be transferred.
I tried to fight, but there was no use.
I can’t even talk about my experiences in the psychiatric units. It scares me and if I think about it too much I often get panic attacks. I can feel my heart racing just mentioning it, so I’ll skip it.
But today, I snuck out while my family was gone. (I'm seventeen.) I took my car and drove to all the places I've been hurt most, including that church. I realized that it could potentially be self-destructive, but part of me felt like I needed to do it. It's not like I had anyone to stop me, all my friends have abandoned me.
I was alone; I am alone.
It almost seemed like, if I went to all the places where I broke and lost pieces of me, I could find them again and put myself back together.
Obviously, that’s not how things work.
I was hoping for closure, instead I forced myself to look at all my scars, all the things I’ve tried to hide. I have been trying this whole time to forget, but I can’t. The scars are there and the pain feels like a fresh wound. Even though I found some lost parts of me, I realized it wouldn’t help. I can’t just glue myself back together, although I wish I could.
I have been broken so many times. I wonder if I deserve all of this, if it is all my fault. When did my pain grow to give me more guilt and regret?
Still, I keep trying. I continue to attempt gluing myself back together, but the cracks and scars are prominent under the transparent paste. Glue, my sad attempt to self-medicate, has built up layer-by-layer to the point of suffocation.
I have smothered myself, only to make the damage permanent. I am still broken, and because I tried to glue myself together, the pieces will forever be in the wrong place.
At least, that’s how I see this to be.
I guess it doesn’t matter if anyone tries to hurt me. It doesn’t matter that my dad gave up my scholarships for college in an attempt to not let me attend. It doesn’t matter that people only talk to me if they can use me, for doing school work, chores, getting a “hot new profile picture," or just having something to fuck.
None of it matters because I’ve already screwed myself over. The damage has been done and it is permanent. I will never be able to rid myself of these wounds, these scars.
I became to tired to fight anymore and in result, I lost.
So I guess, in reality, I deserve this.
After all, this is hell... where I belong.
Here at The Band, we believe in kicking stigmas to the curb, flinging glitter, and shining a light into the dark. And now?
Your bandmate needs a sounding board.
It's time to Ask The Band!
During the summer of my sophomore year, I became fed-up with being slightly overweight and decided to do something about it.
I started dieting and continued my regular physical activities, along with adding a few actual workouts here and there.
Soon, I was a little fitter, and I liked it.
Maybe a little too much.
My diets became more and more restricted. My workouts rougher and more frequent as I tried harder to lose more weight.
My family began to worry and tried to get me to ease up on myself, but unsuccessfully.
By that point, I was anorexic and set upon staying that way.
I was muscular to begin with and had gotten a little more in the beginning, but that completely changed after a few months.
I could barely stand, walking was an ordeal, and forget about weight-lifting for my athletics class - I was constantly dizzy, and concentrating was next to impossible.
Yet, I still remained stubborn. Not even problems with my heart or lungs could convince me. I was unstoppable.
And I was miserable.
I came to my senses at the end of the following summer.
I ate again, I stopped working out for a while.
I became truly happy again.
I gained all the weight back, but it didn't bother me much.
I could walk without feeling like I was on the verge of an asthma attack or my heart was about to explode.
Senior year rolled around, and it was time for me to start planning my future.
I decided I wanted to join the military, and I began to work on getting in better shape so that I'd be accepted.
I worked slowly.
I was determined to do it right this time around.
I lost a little weight and went to the recruiter, who told me I needed to be a little lighter. I was excited and tried to lose the rest.
It's been a year, and I have yet to meet my goal weight.
I'm becoming frustrated. I've been doing everything correctly and healthily, trying very hard to not go back to my eating disorder.
But I stay in the same weight area no matter what I do.
This is the first time I've ever seriously considered being anorexic again.
I hate myself for wanting to do it.
I know it's wrong, and I didn't like myself when I was. But nothing works, and all I can think of is how well my eating disorder worked.
I've given myself nightmares thinking about it, and I've gotten more and more depressed by both my lack of success and the fact that I'd consider sinking so low again.
I see how my boyfriend, who's been working to join the military as well, has has easily gotten into shape, and I'm immensely happy for and proud of him.
But I hate myself.
I've talked him out of turning to eating disorders and doing insanely hard workouts to meet his goal, so when I turn to look at myself, I feel like such a hypocrite.
I'm beginning to feel desperate, and the pull is getting stronger every day.
I don't know what to do anymore.
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