A Faded Hospital Bracelet

BY CHELSEA RICCHIO

I’ve only ever been in the hospital three times in my life – when I was born, when I had a spontaneous tear in my lung, and exactly two years ago as of this past Monday for suicidal thoughts.

I credit that day for turning my life around. Although the most difficult moments of my life were still yet to come, I’ve never felt as hopeless as I did that night since.

I will say though that I have come very close. I become depressed when I’m lonely or experiencing other social issues. And for the past month and a half, I have been very socially isolated.

I’m not really sure how it happened. There are a lot of reasons – me facing criticism that I am not used to regarding my morality, other people’s changing minds and flip-flopping attitudes, new situations in other people’s lives, me just generally being annoyed with everyone for no real reason, and the fact that it’s winter and despite the fact that this is Canada, everyone becomes a little bit hermit-like.

Every couple of hours or so a thought will fleet across my mind that I’m just wasting time and my life is meaningless, because if other people don’t want me around then what is even the point of me? What is the point of life?

DBT Distress Tolerance Skills.jpgThis is the thought that makes me want to kill myself. I still have it, more than I’d like to admit. But now I can control it more often than not. I have much higher level of distress tolerance than I used to and I’m better at self-soothing.

Two years ago my level of distress tolerance was very low. I tried my best and that’s what kept me alive but I was exhausted constantly and small things affected me much more than they would affect the average person. I experience trauma-like reactions to many negative social situations, based on my experiences with bullying in high school, and I was not able to control those either. Continue reading

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The Words I Couldn’t Say – Until Now

BY RACHEL WONG

I recently had the opportunity to engage in a candid discussion with my parents about mental health. It was short and sweet and difficult to have on so many levels, but it was a step in the right direction.

They say that friends will come and go, but home is where the heart is. With that logic, I should be able to tell my family anything – not just how my day at school was or what I learned in class. I should be able to tell them about what is really bothering me instead of just saying, “It was fine.” I should be able to open up to them about my relationships and I should be able to lean on them during my times of struggle. So if home really is where the heart is, then why haven’t I been able to open up to them about my past struggles?speak

Why couldn’t I straight up tell them, “Hey, I’m depressed. I tried to commit suicide today and I desperately need help”?

For most of my teenage life, I have suffered from depression, panic disorder, extreme anxiety, and a host of other things like distorted body image, loneliness, and suicidal thoughts. But growing up in a conservative household meant that these issues couldn’t be discussed openly – in fact, they didn’t really exist in my house at all.

So you can imagine the sheer confusion of having all of these feelings inside me with no way to share them. There were times when I wanted to say that I was not fine and that I needed help. But how do you tell people you love that you are dying on the inside? How would I have even begun to explain the fact that everything that had happened to me until then – the bad grades, ended relationships, fights with friends, constant sickness – were all products of my mental illness?

It wasn’t until recently that I started being forthright with my issues, not only because I was sick of being sick, but also because I knew that our dialogue needed to change.

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Until It’s Too Late

By CHelsea ricchio

Originally posted on tumblr here on October 14, 2014. Warning: mention of suicide.

On Thanksgiving Day my brother found out that his best friend died, and in a way it was fitting because nothing reminds you of what to be thankful for more than loss.

We don’t know how he died – it could have been suicide, but maybe not. I’m not here to talk about that. What I am here to talk about is paying attention to your life, and to the lives of the people around you.

My brother’s friend died a week before the police broke down the door of his bedroom and found his body. He lives with roommates, who I guess didn’t think to check on him. I can only imagine how they must feel now, knowing that he was there, dead, this entire time as they went about their daily lives mere feet away.

As someone who has contemplated suicide many times, a thought I always had was that if I made that choice, no one would notice for a very long time. I didn’t have a lot of friends and the ones that I did have were pretty absent (and still are for the most part if we’re honest), and I don’t talk to my parents regularly enough for them to worry about me. I attributed all of this to the fact that my life was just awful so that was probably even more reason to do it. That was the depression talking, of course, but I still think about that every now and again, and I still felt like there was no way that that would ever happen to most other people, who are swimming in friends and family and so on.

But it does, doesn’t it? More than we like to admit. Our culture is so hands-off. We feel like we’re bothering people and being pushy or nosy if we ask questions. We think that they’ll come to us if they need something. We don’t say things that we should say because we assume that they already know. I do it too. Sometimes for those reasons but more because I assume that they don’t care about me, and since they don’t get involved in my life they certainly won’t want me getting involved in theirs.

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