I told my friend Kaylee about this blog that I created for my COMM 347 class, and she actually asked me if she could share her story of her struggles with depression and self-harm. I knew most of her back-story about the struggles she’s faced, however, an admission to a recent suicide attempt, and an unexpected savior, came as a complete surprise to me. She was able to find hope in a place where she didn’t expect it, and has learned to not take life for granted. Kaylee, if you are reading this, I’m so proud of how far you’ve come and continue to wish you strength and happiness as you take these hard steps toward recovery. Here’s her story:
“As you know, I never really fit in, like, ever. Growing up, I had really only had acquaintances, and a very few friends. My home life wasn’t what I wanted it to be (it wasn’t abusive or anything, but it wasn’t great either) and school wasn’t any better. My mom is never home, out doing God knows what, and my dad doesn’t know what to say to me, so we awkwardly smile at each other in passing. Up until a few months ago, [at school] I was either ignored completely or at the end of some joke. I have a very hard time socializing with my peers, so I usually don’t say anything. I was always that quiet girl who couldn’t look people in the eye (I still am). I always felt depressed, but I never really started hurting myself until a few months ago.
“One of my…now ex-friends, I guess, publicly outed me on Facebook, and at that time I wasn’t ready to let anyone know that I was bi-sexual. It was one of the worst things that has ever happened to me. A secret I entrusted with someone who was my supposed friend…Sorry… It took a lot of courage on my part to tell someone, and to have that trust so blatantly disregarded was heartbreaking. Everyone knew about it then. I went to a really small conservative school (Kaylee has since transferred to a different school) and I went from that girl that everyone ignored to someone with a target on my back. I was relentlessly bullied for being bi-sexual, verbally and physically in two instances. It was horrible. I really had no one to turn to. I felt like I couldn’t trust anyone enough to tell them what was happening. ”
I asked her when the bullying started.
“Sarah* told everyone on Facebook in June (of 2013). The bullying started right after she posted about it. I’d be called so many horrible names…fag…cunt…they would tell me that I was going to hell and that no one would save me. They would also constantly remind me how worthless I was and how I was a waste of space…a freak…almost every day. It was non-stop. I tried to talk to my dad about it, but he wasn’t sure what to say and said he would look into finding a counselor for me.
“The cutting started a few weeks after the initial Facebook post. I would go home crying everyday. I’d just hole up in my room and literally wallow in self-pity. I started believing what they said about me. Maybe I wasn’t good enough. Maybe there was something wrong with me. It was just overwhelming and the insults were like a constant loop in my head. I didn’t know what to do, but the only thing I knew was that I didn’t want to think or feel. I thought that hurting myself was the answer, that I could somehow feel something other than despair, and that maybe I deserved to hurt myself. Of course, as you know, cutting doesn’t solve the problem, it was a temporary distraction from the current situation, and I felt even more guilty about it afterwards, like a vicious cycle. But I kept doing it. My scars fueled more fire for the bullies until I learned to hide them.
Fast forward to November.
“The torment was continuous, and I just felt so…lost. Lost isn’t an adequate word to describe it, but it just felt like my chest was hollow. I kinda was just existing, not really living. I decided that I couldn’t live like that anymore. Nobody cared about me. Nobody would care if I was gone. People would be better off if I didn’t exist. That was basically all I would tell myself for months on end. It got to the point where I was seriously contemplating suicide. I spent Thanksgiving with my parents, and decided that I was going to end it after that. I wanted to give them one last holiday. I wrote a note and was just working up the courage to go through with it.
“Saturday, November 30th, I was asked to babysit my cousin J**. J really wanted to see Frozen, and I agreed to take him. I was expecting to feel what I usually felt when watching movies: disinterest. I sat through the beginning, mindlessly eating my popcorn, waiting for it to be over so I could lock myself in my room again. Elsa had just run away from her coronation after everyone discovered her powers that she desperately tried to hide. Then she fled to the mountains in isolation, and started singing “Let It Go.”‘
“That’s when everything changed. BAM. I had a life changing epiphany in the middle of a crowded theater, of all places. I felt like Miley Cyrus, ‘cuz everything just hit me like a wrecking ball…Sorry, didn’t mean to sound melodramatic, but it was honestly life-changing.”
“As I listened to the lyrics of “Let It Go,” I became more enthralled with the movie. The lyrics spoke to me on such a level that I had never experienced before. I really felt connected to Elsa in that moment, and became anxious to see how her plight would play out. The song was so empowering and liberating and I felt like it was speaking to me. There was so much acceptance and self-deception and tragedy to it. She sings about finally being okay with who she is after years of repressing and hiding her emotions (Don’t let them in/Don’t let them see/Conceal/Don’t feel/Don’t let them know/Well now they know/Let it go!) and also a sense of being afraid of losing herself. I felt like the lyrics were talking to me about my own circumstance.
“As I watched the rest of the movie, I felt a strange sense of hope that I hadn’t felt in a long time. I wanted Elsa to be happy, and for her to realize that she didn’t need to push Anna away. The whole movie was fantastic, and I was hung up on every word. Although I enjoyed the movie as a whole for it’s beautiful animation and score, I couldn’t get Elsa out of my head. Watching her overcome her demons, and her FEAR was inspiring to watch, and I wanted to be that strong. She believed that as long as she shuts people out, she’ll be okay. And that’s how I was for a long time. She turns her back on everything to protect her sister and to protect herself.
“When the movie ended and Demi [Lovato]’s rendition was playing, I felt shock and felt like I was paralyzed. J looked up to me excitedly asking if I liked it, and as I looked into my cousin’s excited, youthfully innocent expression, I felt sick.
“Had I really been planning to kill myself this week? Why was that even a serious option for me? I looked at J’s innocent face and couldn’t imagine a world where he didn’t exist. How could life just be wiped out like that?I took him home and went back to the solace of my room, but not for the reasons I usually do.
“Elsa had helped me realize something: people aren’t always going to like who you are, and you may be treated like a pariah for it, but once you can accept yourself, other people’s opinions don’t matter. Her line “Let the storm rage on!” was telling me to just be myself, give it my all and if people don’t like it, fuck ’em. She was a prisoner of her own feelings and learned to overcome that with acceptance and love. The movie’s overall message of love made me think:’Am I gonna believe in myself, or am I gonna believe other people’s judgements of me?’ Be okay with who you are, essentially, and the rest will fall into place. Does this even make sense? Sorry, it’s hard to put my feelings into coherent words.
“After seeing that movie, I realized that I have so much to live for, even though things suck now. Enjoying the little things can help on the path to happiness. If I had killed myself, I would never listen to music again, or eat chocolate, or watch my cousin grow up or roll in freshly mowed grass. There is so much the world has to offer, and to quote Elsa “It’s funny how some distance/makes everything seem small/and the fears that once controlled me/can’t get to me at all.” I would only be in this shit-hole for a little bit, and then I would be off to college and into the world. I have years ahead of me to make great memories, to be who I want to be, and live the life I want to live. Things that seem horrible now will just be a bump in the road that you never have to look back at. High school is just a small portion of time in the grand scheme of my lifetime.
“Shortly after, my dad and I had found a therapist for me to see, which helped immensely. The bullying didn’t stop, so my dad agree to let me switch schools two towns over. Some of the taunting still followed me, since you can’t escape much on the web, but it is nowhere near as bad as it was when I was in that school and had to face my peers head-on.
“My life is not a Disney movie. I didn’t ride off happily into the sunset after my magical epiphany. Things didn’t suddenly get better. I did continue to cut myself (though no where near as much as I used to) and still have self-esteem issues from the bullies from school, but my therapist is continuing to help me work through those. Life isn’t a perfect Disney movie, and nothing is ever wrapped up all nicely in a bow. I still have a lot of bad days. But there are some good days. Did Elsa actually save my life, or did I just see what I wanted to see in that awakening? I don’t know. Regardless, it awoke something in me. I was able to get a new appreciation for this crazy, imperfect, tragically beautiful thing we call life. Things can get shitty for me, or anyone, really, and it’s all about perspective. “Distance makes everything seem small”. Things that seem like the worst things won’t even matter to you in ten years. Prove the disbelievers wrong. Be happy with yourself. Fate or God or whatever you want to call it works in mysterious ways. What if I hadn’t gone to see Frozen that day? Where would I be, if I would even be here at all. We all have a purpose. Are we an Anna, where we have lots of love to give out? Are we a Sven, where we find purpose providing companionship? Are we an Elsa, where we go on to do great things? Are we an Olaf, where we make others laugh? Every singe person is put here for a purpose. We might not even know that purpose until our dying day, but that doesn’t mean we should end it all or feel less valuable as a human because you haven’t found it yet. I’m gonna get really cheesy here, but you’ll appreciate the pun: the world is like freshly fallen snow; it’s up to you if you want to just stare at it and leave it blank, or make your imprint in it. As Elsa says, ‘Go…your life awaits.'”
*I changed the name of Kaylee’s ex-friend who outed her on Facebook to avoid conflict.
**Kaylee’s cousin is underage, and their name has been removed to prevent identification.