High school was hard for me. I’m sure I didn’t have it as bad as some people. I had friends, I had a Homecoming date, and I was moderately happy. As happy as one can be while being a teenager. I had some major self-esteem issues and always wished I was more outgoing so making friends wasn’t so hard for me. Luckily, I transferred to a charter school in 11th grade where I met the most fabulous group of girls ever. They were exactly what I needed.
The people I went to high school with for 9th and 10th grade were a little messed-up. Ninth grade was especially hard. It was tough being a new high-schooler with a whole new set of friends, learning how to survive in that environment. One thing that really stood out for me was a girl who was touted as a modern-day hero after her stint in a mental hospital. She had been placed in a straitjacket and kept in the hospital over the weekend and when she came back, she was all smiles and stories. She told everyone about what happened and everyone was so impressed.
You see, it was the thing to be suicidal/depressed. It was cool to be “dark and twisty,” if I want to use a Grey’s Anatomy reference. I saw girls freely flaunting their sliced wrists and arms. I remember one friend in particular who had three long lines of cut marks in a row on each arm. They were deep, but perfect. (In proportion.)
Listening to dark music, wearing dark clothes, having a perpetual frown on your face. That is what made you cool.
At first, I tried to play along. I tried to be as dark and twisty as others. Once, I even posted an AIM away message with the words of a song that spoke of suicide, which my brother (just 16 at the time) saw and questioned me about. My brother has never been one to go with the crowd and I admire so much his ability to always do the right thing, always do the moral thing, even when people around him aren’t. I would have been lost without him in high school.
It wasn’t until I was sitting in the tub one night, eyeing my razor and wondering if I could be as brave as the people in school and cut myself. Brave. This is what I thought they were. I didn’t even know why people were cutting themselves, I just wanted to be one of the crowd. And I tried it. I took my razor and tried my hardest to make a tiny cut, but I just couldn’t go through with it. I couldn’t be like them. Suicide and cutting is not a popularity contest. It’s not a game. It’s real life and it’s scary.
I have never been depressed or suicidal in my life. I have someone in my life who is right now and it’s scary to be on the outskirts of it, not knowing how you can help or what tomorrow may hold for them. What was going on in my high school was sad. These girls were just trying to fit in and while I have no doubt some of them were indeed depressed, it became a game of who was worse.
I’ve never shared this story, because sometimes I’m embarrassed at how far I almost went to fit in. I never fully “embraced” what they were doing, but at the same time I admired them. But that’s the way it goes when you’re 15 years old. I was blessed to have a brother who remains one of my biggest role models and supporters. I’m not sure he even knows the extent to how he helped me see how going with the crowd and fitting in somewhere you don’t belong can be detrimental.
I love my life. It’s not the perfect life. I have my issues and there are many things I want to change. But I know I am strong enough to overcome anything and I hold the power to change.
Suicide is nothing to play around with. It’s not a game. For many people, it’s a daily struggle to survive. I cannot imagine living that way and I hope to never experience it.