Guest Author: D.

This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.

It’s November, I’m sitting in a hospital bed around one in the morning. An ambulance has brought me here. I stared out the back window as we were bouncing down the highway, watching the light of the town fade in the distance. The paramedics asked me more than once if I had taken anything. They meant drugs, they wanted to know if I had tried to kill myself. I said no every time they asked. They didn’t know that it was the twelve years I have spent living with a phobia of throwing up that had lead me to this spot. I would never try to off myself with pills for the risk having to get my stomach pumped. It sounds silly doesn’t it? Spending twelve years being terrified of throwing up. Maybe it is silly, until it’s your life.

I spent sixteen hours in the hospital. Sleeping on a bed in the observation unit and then sitting on a couch in the same room I had occupied six months earlier when I started cutting. When I started, I would cut with razors but now the marks all over my body were much harsher, coming from the smaller blade of my pocketknife. Later that afternoon, my dad took me home and was instructed by the nurse to not leave me alone. I would return to the hospital later to talk to a psychologist. I was docile and completely empty while going home.

The fear left but so did everyone else. I was left a shell.

I had been faking calm for months. After spending close to a week in a crisis stabilization unit because I blitzed, leaving both my forearms covered in streaks of bleeding lines, I felt like that was safe. So I pretended and for a few weeks afterwards, I thought maybe I was going to be okay. I knew that I had never hurt anyone as much as I did when I threatened my own life. A few weeks had gone by and the fear that had taken me under the first time returned. Then suddenly everything changed, the fear left but so did everyone else. I was left a shell.

I hid my husk state from everyone around me. I had to because I couldn’t hurt them again. But it leaked out of the small creaks in the walls I had put up and my ex-girlfriend’s mother called 911 after listening to one of our late night conversations. It wasn’t the hospital that saved me. It wasn’t the tears in my father’s eyes or my mother’s lost state of being when I came home. It wasn’t the way my best friend shook when I told her what had happened. It was me. Nothing saved me. Nothing could have. I did this.

I got here because I trusted myself to stay true to who I am.

I’m twenty now, navigating my thirteenth year of being phobic. I haven’t been in a hospital room for over a year and a half and have seen myself through hundreds upon hundreds of days clean of cutting. I have thousands of stories about the events that brought me here. Stories about the months of depression, the countless years of panic attacks. I could say many things about the events that destabilized me and the ones that grounded me. But I got here because I trusted myself to stay true to who I am.

For me, medication has never been an option and for now it never will be. I was never medicated for my depression or my anxiety. Nor did I self medicate with alcohol or other drugs. A battle without medication is not always feasible and not always safe but it is possible. I have broken many promises and failed at a lot of things but I always knew that if I was going to make it through this, I was going to do it on my terms. This fear belongs to me. It is only one part of the complete person I have always been. Somewhere along the way I found an achingly beautiful world and an underlying drive to live in it. I have no idea what my life is going to be or what I want from it but I know I want it. I didn’t always.

I have been crushed but I am not weak.

I’ve had to forgive myself for the things I’ve done. The ways that I’ve hurt other people but it was harder to forgive myself for all the things I did. The ways I twisted and cracked myself open on fear. I may have shattered but I have never been broken. I have been crushed but I am not weak. Now there is space in me. Places to grieve the innocence and days that I have lost. Mourn everything that has passed, honor where I have been. There is space in me to take responsibility for this, for my hurt and my healing. I can love my scars and I can live; afraid or not.

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