In my experience, most suicidal people feel ready to die. It feels like life has dragged on so long in such a painful, unbearable way that they just can’t wait for it to be over. That’s where I’m at right now.
Sure, I have moments when I’m not ready to die. I usually put on my seatbelt in a car, I grab the banister when I begin to fall down the stairs, I enjoy times of laughter and fun. During those moments, I don’t want to die. I’m not ready. I want to stay in this world and live and love and feel. But then there are moments like tonight. There are tear-filled moments spent alone in the dark. I think the key is to hold on to the idea of upcoming moments. There will definitely be more of the moments of wanting life, but there will also definitely be more moments of not wanting it. I guess it’s an individual choice. Is one worth tolerating the other? Is giving in to the other worth never again experiencing the first?
I don’t know. I wish I wasn’t so torn. I wish I didn’t know the pain that it would cause others, and I wish I didn’t have the growing distortion that that wouldn’t happen with me because I matter less. How much longer can this battle rage on in my mind? Eventually half of me will give in to the other, and I can’t shake the feeling that that surrender is closer than anyone realizes.
When someone dies, the clock stops ticking. That person is locked into the age that they were when they died. Isaiah will be 14 forever. I feel like I will be 17 forever. I feel like I cannot grow past October 23, 2012.
In the same way that death freezes time, so does trauma. I feel trapped as a little girl in a semi-adult body. Even though I’m already past it, it’s hard for me to imagine life without the abuse. I don’t feel like I’m safe now even though I am, and I don’t feel like I’m older even though it’s been over five years since the trauma stopped. I think that Isaiah probably felt similarly to me in that. I don’t know for sure, but I think that he had a very hard time taking himself out of the abandonment and abusive situations that he went through before he was adopted. I have no doubt that he struggled with some sort of trauma disorder, and I think that in some ways he probably felt trapped as the boy that he was back in Guatemala when he was being so consistently hurt. I wish that I could’ve helped him feel at home in the present.
Now he’s gone though. He’s done growing, he has no chance of improvement. He will never come out of the mindset that he was in, and the last thing he experienced was the pain that was intense enough to drive him to suicide. He’ll never go to high school, he’ll never play soccer professionally, he’ll never go to college, he’ll never get married. What could he have been? Where would he have gone? We will never know.
I feel like I can’t grow either. I can’t progress in life. I’m just stuck two years in the past and in my childhood. I go back and forth between a child and a 17 year old. I’m never 19, and I’m never moving forward. It’s like I died in each event and now I’m frozen at the ages where I felt the most pain.
My mom questions why I’m not progressing, and the people at my treatment program ask the same thing. Maybe I’m keeping myself here. After all, I keep acting on self-destructive impulses. Everyone always says that’s it’s up to me, that I need to choose to get better, that I’m simply choosing to be willful. But honestly, I don’t feel like I have a choice. I don’t feel like I have the option of improving. I feel like I’m over. I feel like I’m trapped along with Isaiah. My body will be the last thing to stop moving. My mind is already dead.
I wish that I could sit here and tell you that I have this blog because I love writing or because I want people to understand what it’s like to be a mentally ill teenager. And while those things are both true, there is a bigger motivator behind Accept The Bullshit: attention. I am an attention whore. If you don’t know what I mean by that, Urban Dictionary defines attention whore as a label given to any person who craves attention to such an extent that they will do anything to receive it. Now, that sounds pretty extreme, and I definitely don’t think I would do anything, but I’m still somewhere on the AW spectrum. So going back to my blog, I do use it as a way to express myself. However, if that was all I wanted, I could journal in a private notebook. What I write doesn’t stay buried away in a diary that will never be seen by another’s eyes. What I write is online where literally anyone from anywhere with any intention can read it. Obviously I want people to focus on me. No one writes a blog for no one to read. I closely track my views and the responses that I get to each entry. I title my posts and match pictures with entries based on what I think will get the most readers. That’s the way the internet works. It’s a game of attention-seeking manipulation, but now that I think about it, so is the rest of my life.
You see, I’ve been trying to get people’s attention forever. Even in situations where I act shy or isolated, most of the time I still secretly want people to notice me. This desire has been present ever since I was little. I think it really started with my dad and spiraled out from there. I’m really torn about how much I want to get into about my dad because it’s been a large piece of my recent struggles, but he was basically unable to give me the attention that a father should give a daughter. Because of that, the attention that I could get had to be earned. When I was younger, I wanted so badly for my dad to see me as a person, as his kid. I think that that’s when my attention-seeking began. After a while, I didn’t even care if it was positive or negative attention. I cheered on sports teams that he didn’t like, I challenged him in arguments, I cried when I knew that he hated that. I just wanted him to love me, and if he wouldn’t love me, then I at least wanted him to notice me. The only times that he truly focused on me were the times when he was abusing me. That’s how the abuse became my identity; it’s all he wanted me for, so it’s all I thought I was good for.
In elementary school, I excelled academically, and I got a lot of praise for that, which fed my attention whore ways. I was put in the gifted program, I won some fancy award, I was a finalist in a national drawing contest, and teachers consistently complimented my intelligence and specifically my writing ability. Writing has probably always gotten me the most attention. That’s why I keep doing it. You’ve got to work what you’ve got, right?
In middle school, my mental health really started to tank. As I felt less and less worthy of love and more and more rejected by my father, desperation finally kicked in. I needed people to care about me, to see me, and pay attention to me. I started lying to my friends. And boy, did I lie a lot. I told some true secrets along with the lies, like things about the abuse that I was experiencing, but it was impossible for anyone to separate that from the lies I was telling about my health, my living situation, and so many other things.
I was self-harming prior to seventh grade, but that was the year that people first found out about it. I had been very secretive about it before then, but once it was out, it was out, and I suddenly wanted people to know. I self-harmed a lot in school, scratching or cutting myself in class. Kids would end up wrestling whatever I had turned into a weapon out of my hand. There’s this horrible stereotype that some people believe which is that self-harm is an attention-seeking behavior. For 99% of self-harmers it is absolutely not, but for a period of time I think it was for me. It was like I finally found what would get people to focus on me.
In high school (which I’m still in), I made an almost entirely new friend group and was hospitalized a bunch of times. However, the most significant thing that happened during my high school career was the death of my best friend. After Isaiah died, I really retreated. It was probably the only time in my life that I wanted absolutely no care. I wanted no love, no attention. I didn’t even want people to look at me.
When I was hospitalized following his death, I was put on one-to-one for self-harming in the hospital. One-to-one observation is when you have to be within arms length of a staff member at all times. As annoying as constant supervision is, it’s also constant care. Your one-to-one staff member’s only job at that moment is to pay attention to you. In a way that is probably less than helpful, I felt comforted by that. I returned to the same hospital a month or two later. That time, I actually escaped the unit and ran through the woods on the other side of a highway. During that time, the entire unit’s attention was on me. When the staff walked me back onto the ward after they caught me, all of the patients cheered. It was such a crazy rush. Then I went to a different hospital about a year later and was put on one-to-one for attempting suicide in the hospital. The care that I got from the staff members was extremely validating. In fact, I think the most validated I’ve ever felt was because of the nurse’s reaction when she found me during my attempt. When I scare people with my behavior, it feels like validation because I’m scared too. Maybe validation is what I’m looking for in all this attention-seeking. I just want people to look at me, realize what’s going on and say “yeah, that really sucks” or “I know you’re trying and it’s really hard” or “I’m worried about you.”
In my process of maturing, I’ve become more of a subtle attention whore over the years. Nowadays I pretty much just carefully dominate conversations, write blog entries, Instagram pictures of myself, and occasionally tell people about alarming things that I do. I feel incredibly alone in this because it doesn’t seem like anyone else craves the acknowledgement that I do. I’m really starting to think that maybe I’m just a narcissistic asshole demanding people’s attention. But hey, maybe that’s exactly what I am.