Blog

Sep11
2017

Stay and Turn Another Year Older

By Abie Bowker

Just over a year ago, I was hospitalized because I was going to kill myself. My depression and anxiety had gotten so bad that I was convinced that my death was the best solution, the only solution for ending the pain and absolute emptiness I was feeling. It’s scary and almost surreal to think about just how close I was to ending everything. If my counselor had waited three weeks longer to intervene the way that she did, it would’ve been too late.

As the one year anniversary approached, I found myself thinking back on last summer quite often (I think we can all say that Timehop and its reminders are not always our favorite). When I do, the emotion that hits me the hardest is a deep sorrow. My heart honestly aches when I remember just how low and empty I felt. Just getting through each day took monumental effort but no matter how exhausted I was, my mind wouldn’t let me rest. I spent so many nights crying myself to sleep because the pain of being alive was just too much. I didn’t want to do it anymore.

If you had told me a year ago that I would be where I am now, I never would’ve believed you. This version of me is so far from the broken and hopeless Abie from last summer. And what a relief that is.

If you had to told me a year ago that I would end up being a gym-going vegan who, most days, feels pretty good about herself and her life, I probably would’ve laughed at you.

If you had told me that I would walk out of a job because my boss made awful comments about my scars and NOT have it send me spiraling down into a deep depression, I would’ve been shocked.

And if you had told me that I would finally start learning how to love and care for myself, I wouldn’t even have been able to understand how that was possible. Last year’s Abie wouldn’t even recognize who I am now, and I’m grateful for that.

And while it’s encouraging to see just how far I’ve come in a year, it’s hard not to remember just how painful that process was. For awhile, I honestly wondered if my suicide was an inevitable ending to my story and my hospitalization had only delayed it a bit. It took moving in with a girl I found on Craigslist to change that mindset (her name was Abbey so I knew she had to be ok). She quickly became a close friend and my biggest motivator and a cheerleader in my recovery. Living with her was the start of my journey in being physically healthy which, in turn, did wonders for my mental health.

Abbey came along during a time when I needed help believing in myself. Fortunately, she did that and more.

As all of these thoughts and memories come to mind, I’ve been trying to focus on all the positive changes I’ve made in my life, too. But I don’t want to pretend that last year never happened. Everything I’ve gone through has helped shape me into the person I am today.

Thanks to counseling sessions and a lot of self contemplation, I’ve come to realize that it’s OK to allow myself to grieve over the person I was and the fact that I almost died. It’s OK to feel sad for that Abie and to cry over her pain. It’s OK for my heart to hurt when I think about just how close I came to ending my life last summer. And it’s OK if it takes more than a year for me to feel as though I can fully breathe again.

Having grace for myself is a difficult thing, but right now, I can’t find it in me to criticize or condemn either last summer’s Abie or who I am in this moment. Last summer, I was doing what I could to get through each day. Today, I’m doing what I can to honor my story by remembering it and also continuing my recovery forward.

I’m writing this with the hope that someone else who is struggling can read it and know they’re not alone. Know that if I can go from wanting to end end my life one summer to happy and healthy the next, so can you.

Recovery is a process. There are some days when everything is going wrong and the hospital bills still seem impossibly large and finding a job feels too daunting a task. But I show myself a bit of grace because I still have depression and anxiety. Those haven’t magically gone away.

Recovery takes work, but it’s worth it.

Give yourself the opportunity of seeing what a year from now holds. Take a chance on yourself and choose to stay.

Stay and be surprised by all the change that can happen in a year.

Stay and see all the birthdays (yours and others’), new babies, new friends, and new adventures you’ll get to experience.

Stay and turn another year older.

Stay and see the purple scars fade to white.

Stay and be loved.

Stay and learn to love yourself.

If I can make it through the absolute darkest season of my life, so can you. I believe in you, even if you can’t believe in yourself right now. I believe in you. Please stay.

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Comments (7)

  1. Logan

    You have no idea how much this truly means to me. Sometimes it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning, let alone make it through the day, but I also found a person who is my biggest cheerleader and motivator, and she supports everything I do and is understanding. It’s those people that make things better and make me feel like I can do anything. Your story reminded me there is hope at a time when I needed it. I’m going to stay a year and hopefully many more.

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  2. Nikki D

    Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I can relate so much to this. Three years ago I tried to kill myself. I was going through a really bad break up, grandparents were separating, and I just had no one to turn to. So I tried ending it all, too. I still think about that night oh so often, and just sit in shock because I truly could’ve died that night. But honestly, I still have those thoughts regularly but I am also glad that I stayed. I would’ve never thought I would love again, move 300 miles from home, be a great role model for me niece and nephew, and have mine and my grandmas bond grow stronger. I’m very thankful that I am still here. <3

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  3. Gabriele

    wow. i need to hear this so desperately. thank you.

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  4. Kaeli

    I read these blogs on all of my bad days, sometimes they help and sometimes I’m not sure what they do to me. But I know that I’m still here and I’m grateful for these blogs and how they’ve helped me through some of my hard times.

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  5. Susie

    wow. just wow. i WILL keep fighting. i’ve come ao far but have further to go.

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  6. Becky

    Abie, I don’t know you, but I’m glad you’re here. I’m glad you decided to stay. Thank you for sharing your story ❤️

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  7. Treasure

    I will turn 40 on November 3rd. I want to make it to my 40th birthday, even though the pain is overwhelming today. I want to get there. A new chapter of my life will start when I am 40. I will never forget some things that happenened in the last 39 years. That is okay. I can choose peace for my fourth decade of life. God has kept me here this far. Surely I can find a way to make it to my birthday. Thank you for giving me hope.

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