Who I was
A year ago today I was a patient at Lakeshore hospital in Chicago.
I had admitted to my college counselor that I was having daily suicidal thoughts, and he personally accompanied me to the hospital. I spent my first night in a double room alone, crying and singing to myself in an attempt to cling onto something familiar. Though I knew this was the start to either my recovery, or my death, I had no clue how much I’d have to go through before I survived.
It is incredibly important to remember where you came from. Maybe not the location, but the person you once were. I wish I could go back in a time machine and tell myself that it was going to be okay. I’d say,
“Jess, you have no idea what is in store for you. There are people you haven’t met yet, places you haven’t seen yet, and things you haven’t done yet that are going to change the way you see your life someday. A year from now you and Khaleesi are going to be in another part of the country. You’re going to be making a $30,000 salary for a super easy job.
You’re going to run a successful blog that helps people that are going through what you went through!
You’re going to be happy, healthy, and get this – You’re going to be in love. An amazing amazing guy is going to sweep you off your feet. You’ll spend days texting back and forth, playing non stop games of draw something, and in the evenings you’ll be together, either having drinks at one of your favorite spots, or staying at home with some beers and takeout. But most importantly, he’s going to treat you the way you should’ve been treated. He’s going to change the way you see love. He’s going to teach you so much by just being around you.
You’ll have a great relationship with your mom. I know, it sounds super impossible right now. Trust me, I know. I’m you. But it’s going to happen. Your older brother will be this amazing Dad that you always thought he’d be. Your nephew is beautiful and he loves you very much. Your younger brother will be in school! He’ll be promoted to manager at his job, and he’ll be happy. Your father won’t be able to hurt you anymore, and believe it or not, your sadness over never having his love or approval will have vanished.
Your 22nd birthday will be a success. Nothing even remotely close to this past birthday.
Remember that dress you were too self conscious to wear this year? Well, you wear it next year and you look SMOKIN’ HOT.
Joseph will be so far in the past you’ll have to work to remember his face sometimes. He will be happy though, and so will you. You’ll be civil, checking in with each other from time to time, but you will both have completely moved on 100%!
You’ll find out that your blog is your calling. Those feelings of not knowing what to do with your life or where to go… they will have all but vanished.
You’ll be happy, healthy, excited to tackle your goals, and on the track to feeling fulfilled.
So please, hold on a little longer. Do exactly what you’re doing because every tiny moment that you are in pain will have been for a reason. Every mistake you made, ever wrong turn, every tear, every fear, and every almost will have meant something.
None of this would have been possible if it hadn’t been for you. So thank you so much for being strong even when your brain made it physically impossible. thank you for beating the impossible somehow.”
Hopefully in a year some other things will have changed. For example, I’ll have had this blog for a little under two years. I’m hoping by then I’ll have applied for TED talks to be a guest speaker. I want to call my speech “Healing through shared experiences.” I want to shed light on the idea that you don’t need a degree to help someone. You don’t need to have gotten a B or better in psychology to know about depression. Having gone through it and come out on the other side gives me the beautiful opportunity to share my story with others in hopes that it soothes their pain and makes them feel that they are not alone. We need therapists and psychiatrists because there will always be things I don’t know about depression. The chemical imbalance from past trauma is all I know about it when it comes to my body and the science behind it. I don’t doubt that they help people like us. I’d be a liar if I said that, because Theresa helped me more than I can even explain.
But I do believe that though I don’t know the mechanics of depression, or what is happening on the inside, I do have one thing that they do not.
I lived it.
I know what it was like to be inches away from death. I know what it was like to feel so helpless that nothing you could do in that moment would help. I know what it’s like to not want to shower. To lay in bed for days. To not eat for weeks, to not be able to explain to anyone what was happening to me.
And I know what it was like to get out of that hole.
So yes, TED talks is my goal.
The phrase “I can only hope” does not apply to me. I can dream, I can plan, I can work hard, I can do it.
“I cannot only hope”.