By: Brahmjot Kaur
TW (Trigger Warning): Suicide, Rape, Self-harm
When you feel your world crumbling beneath your feet, how do you cope? What do you do when deep breaths and tea don’t help? You crumble with it.
October 11, 2018 was World Mental Health Day according to the World Health Organization (WHO). “World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health.”
Often times a main point of conversation surrounding this day is suicide awareness.
Suicide is a touchy topic. It’s a topic that people don’t usually have real discussions about. So many act like posting the Suicide Hotline phone number in their Instagram bio will be the saving grace of people who are considering suicide, but it just isn’t enough.
While this advocacy is very much appreciated, the situations are usually far more complex and so are the solutions. When someone speaks out about their experiences with suicide, there is a sense of shame and lack of understanding that’s felt.
When I was 14, my fascination with suicide grew exponentially. It was something I didn’t talk much about, but it would frequently cross my mind. I started therapy around this time. Often my life was a blur. I suppressed most of my high school memories due to trauma. I know what you’re thinking:
High school wasn’t that bad. You’re just exaggerating.
False. High school was that bad.
When I was 15, I was raped by a classmate. That day played on repeat in my head for a long time. The feelings of guilt and shame for not fighting back harder haunt me to this day. After such a traumatic experience, one feels so tainted and unwanted. It feels like there’s no coming back from such an emotionally disturbing moment. This moment was the beginning of my journey with self-harming.
It wasn’t until my second serious contemplation of suicide and hospitalization at 16 that I was diagnosed with type 1 bipolar disorder. Knowing the reason I’m so emotionally unstable was helpful with treatment but somehow didn’t change the feeling of emptiness I had inside my chest.
By senior year of high school, I was in an emotionally abusive relationship with a boy who swore he loved me.
I was crying every other night because he said something that hurt me deeply before apologizing profusely in an attempt to keep me around.
At this point, it wasn’t surprising for suicidal thoughts to creep into the front of my head at night when I laid in bed. I’d think about what would happen if I wasn’t around. Were my parents okay? Were the people that hurt me flooded with guilt? It’s something I thought of constantly.
Meanwhile, I had been going to therapy this entire time. However, something that is ill mentioned is that if you’re not completely honest with your therapist, there’s no point in going at all. I didn’t connect with my first two therapists, but after finding one that I did connect with, I was able to talk through some of my experiences and find proper coping methods.
I’ve been seeing Michelle, my third therapist, for 5 years now. Seeing a therapist was definitely one of the best decisions I have made. The first session began with a psychological evaluation. We discussed previous incidents I had experienced and why I felt the way I did. She never invalidated my feelings, nor did I feel attacked when we were in my sessions. The best part was that everything we spoke about was confidential. Unlike a backstabbing best friend or a gossiping aunt, my therapist wouldn’t tell anyone what we spoke about. With my therapist, I was able to find the root of most of my insecurities and episodes.
College was going to be different.
I swore to myself I wouldn’t be the same person I was in high school. While the beginning of freshman year started off a little rocky, by the end of the spring semester I found the most amazing friends who supported me, in the ways that friends should.
I’ve spent my last two years at City College growing as a person and becoming someone I’m proud of – or at least in the process of being someone I’m proud of. While I can’t say I’m so happy and that nothing affects me anymore, I can say that I’ve learned to love myself significantly.
So in my humble opinion, I want to give this piece of advice:
Therapy is okay. Talking to someone is okay.
What’s not okay is feeling like ending your life is the only way to end the pain and suffering you might be going through.
Being mentally and emotionally well is a process and a journey, but it is worth every step you need to take to reach that wellness.
If you or anyone you know is interested in getting access to more information and resources, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has made a hotline called NYCWell. More information can be found at: https://nycwell.cityofnewyork.us/en/