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.