By: Teresa Winger
To start off, this is my story. My heart is racing as I’m writing this, but this is me and I don’t care.
In the 9th grade, I started to self-harm. It started primarily with cutting, and then when that got boring for me I started burning myself, bruising myself, starving myself, whatever I could find. All during high school I kept it pretty secretive. But then came college. I found that in college, it’s hard to get some time to yourself; which means there are no such things as “secrets.” I thought I hid my “secret” pretty well but by the end of my freshman year I found out that most of my friends knew I cut myself. They tried to get me to get help, out of love of course, but I was too scared and overwhelmed to even think straight. My last few months of freshman year, I was getting blackout drunk almost every weekend, trying to cope with the stress of college and the stress of my secrets coming out. I started to push everyone in my life out. After cutting myself in front of my best friend, I decided that this is not how I should be living life. I decided to stop cutting.
But when sophomore year came, and I hit rock bottom. Hard. I was a few months clean. but soon after sophomore year started, I relapsed. I fucked up pretty bad with one of my friends in October, yet ALL of my friends decided to hate me because of it. I couldn’t deal, so I cut.
Fast forward to March- A friend of mine had another friend come to visit school one weekend. That friend and I had some ‘fun’ and he then went on to spread a rumor about me. The rumor and suddenly all of my friends turning against me began my downfall. School became too overwhelming. Work was tiring me out. I started to drink my problems away. I started to sleep with random guys so I could ‘feel something.’ To sum it up, I became self-destructive as my way to cope with everything that was going on. I officially lost myself and found comfort in rock bottom, because I just couldn’t find comfort anywhere else.
School finally ended and I was pretty okay over the summer, until one night that changed it all. I got way to drunk, came home, and spent part of the night sick and crying to my mom how I wanted to die. I knew I needed help, but after this I REALLY needed help. I basically ended up doing a 360 on my life. I cut out drinking cold turkey, I started seeing a therapist and taking anti-depressants and anti-anxieties, I moved out of the dorms at school. I started taking control of my life.
To this day I am one and a half years clean of self-harm. And I’ve never been more proud. I started to drink again, but after a couple drinks I can’t help but to stop, in fear of what I know could happen. I made new friends and stopped surrounding myself with toxic people. I’m more open about how I’m feeling.
I’m telling my story because I know that it needs to be told. When Isabella told me about starting a non-profit for mental illness, I jumped at the opportunity. I was scared at first about what people would think when they knew I was a part of it. I didn’t want people to know this much about me. I didn’t want people to judge me. I didn’t want my family or friends to be embarrassed by me. I didn’t want to tell people I’m involved because I myself have a mental illness and I was ashamed at whom I was. Then, I was mad at myself for being ashamed. How could I help others and tell others not to be ashamed when I was?
But I have never found anything I was so passionate about in my whole life. I have never wanted anything so bad but to help people like me, the ones suffering in silence and scared to get help because there’s such a negative connotation when it comes to mental health. By joining Talking Saves Lives is not only helping me, but helping others. Mental illness has stolen so much from me. I will never let it take control again and neither should you.