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“So, what now?” my therapist asks expectedly.

“I don’t know; I wasn’t planning on still being alive right now,” I respond, fidgeting in my seat.

I left my therapist’s office a little over two weeks prior to this session with a plan. I had just turned 25 and I felt completely defeated, like my mental illnesses had completely destroyed any chance I had at living a healthy, happy life. I had tried so many medications, so much therapy, and I still kept returning to this dark place. Having fought for so long with little relief, all I wanted to do was throw my hands in the air and be done. I was confident that this time, my plan would work. I could be as nonexistent as I felt. Everything I looked at and experienced was tinged with pain. I felt completely immune to any semblance of positivity. I felt I had lost my ability to find hope and the only thing I truly believed was that I was never supposed to be here. This mindset went on for weeks, as did the planning, yet I told nobody about the finality of it all. I didn’t want anyone to try to help me, as I felt that I had tried too much already to no avail. I truly, with everything in me, wanted to die.

I left my therapist’s office that Wednesday with the certainty that it was the last time. It was a bittersweet feeling, believing I was ready to leave this world, as it hurt me to believe I would never see my loved ones again, but it hurt far more staying alive in the pain I felt I couldn’t escape. The idea of suicide felt like a welcome relief.

Needless to say, my plan backfired. I’m still not sure what exactly propelled my car toward the hospital after driving in circles for what felt like hours, but it did not feel like my own foot pushing the gas pedal, nor my own hands steering the wheel. I knew as I stepped toward the registration booth in the Emergency Room that I was about to surrender everything and there was no going back. I lacked confidence that anything would get better, but I knew I had to step forward. As ready to leave as my mental illnesses had convinced me I was, there was a tiny piece of me that felt I still had unfinished business here. I couldn’t leave my loved ones, not yet.

I encountered a lot of people during my two week hospital stay. The days were inundated with individual assessments with doctors, therapists, nurses, conversations with peers who were also struggling, words with family and friends, and hours upon hours of group therapy. From the first counselor I encountered in the Emergency Room who told me, “you’ve gotta stay” to the group therapist assuring me that I do belong here, hopeful words were steadily stacked upon each other and I tried my best to soak them in, to really feel them, to let them envelope me like a soft blanket that perhaps could finally keep me warm. However, I still felt cold. I had tried so hard for years and I still felt cold.

I was discharged from the hospital still feeling pretty hopeless but I knew I had no choice but to move on with my life. To move forward. It was the most bitter pill to swallow, the knowledge and understanding that suicide is not an option and that I have to continue fighting this battle. I got back to town that afternoon, paid all my bills, picked up my new medication, and returned to work the next morning. I didn’t have much time to relate my overall experience to my life post-discharge until I met with my therapist a few days later.

After explaining the events, thoughts, and emotions preceding the hospital stay as well as my thoughts and emotions in that moment, my therapist leaned back in her chair and said what continues to be the most hopeful statement given to me throughout this entire experience:

“I want this to have been your rock bottom.”

I never used to believe in a true “rock bottom” because every time I thought I’d felt as low as I could get, I was proven wrong. When my depression takes over, it feels like my emotions spiral down a never-ending black hole with no bottom in sight. I always felt like what’s bad could always get so much worse, and even when it didn’t get worse, the possibility of it made every step I took seem so pointless. People would tell me “it gets better”, but I always knew that it would get worse again. It always did. It probably always will, but I think that the idea of my rock bottom having already happened has so much hope in it.

It’s hard to believe that anything could feel more painful than what I endured this summer. Maybe it can, but maybe that was it, and the vast space that is “maybe” was the closest to hope I’d been in a long time. And during a time when hope is so hard to find, that is everything. Maybe the only way to go is up. Maybe it can only get better from here, and never worse than what it just was. Maybe there actually is a bottom, and maybe that was it. Maybe that can be it. Maybe nothing can hurt me as badly as I was. Maybe if I decide that as truth, maybe nothing will, and that makes my future so much less scary.

Choosing to believe that I’ve already lived through what could be the worst days of my life makes the days in my future immensely less daunting. It makes them feel doable. It makes them feel bright. At the very least, brighter than the dark that was my rock bottom. I know that pain is inevitable in my future; I know tomorrow could very well be a terrible day. I know that there are many stressful and negative experiences that I’ve still yet to live through, but that’s the thing: I will live through them. I’ve already made it past the worst when I truly thought I had nothing left in me.

When I finally saw my therapist after my hospitalization and explained everything to her, I felt lost. How does one go on with life after having their mind set on death for so long? We started with a worksheet. What transpired from that was the evaluation of every piece of my life, for which I created goals. A game plan.

Somewhere in between then and now, my perspective changed. It was a strange, gradual transformation when I gained the intention to live again as opposed to settling for the necessity. I swallowed the reality of what my life entails, and I’ve learned to accept it and do the very best I can. Doing the best I can makes me feel productive and proud, so I’ve decided to keep doing more of it. Most days it means ripping myself from my bed and getting in my car and driving, even if at first it doesn’t feel like my own foot pushing the gas pedal, nor my own hands steering the wheel.

I’m proud because I’ve built this life from the very bottom up. With my bare hands, skin bleeding and bruised, heart broken, I built this life. To my surprise, I found that rock bottom can be a pretty strong foundation. From a space beyond what I thought I would be able to endure, I rebuilt. Some pieces of my life I’m building for the first time, often without a roadmap or glasses. Sometimes it doesn’t feel right because I had adapted to living in pain and darkness for so long. Nonetheless, as I kept getting out of bed, as I kept driving, kept crossing things off my “to do” list, living with intention became a little easier. I now realize that I’m no longer learning to accept simply being alive, I’m learning to accept being happy. I’m learning to adjust to living a life I never thought I could have. A life I thought was over, should have been over. And after everything I’ve been through, it makes being alive to create this life so much sweeter. This life is a prize and I’ve earned it. I fought long and I fought hard and I will continue to fight.

Because as finished as I felt in the midst of this hot summer, I realized I never actually was. From rock bottom, I rose. I climbed. I moved forward. From rock bottom, I made it.


Comments

27
  • Kolie dee

    THANK YOU for sharing your story, Leah! I am a Mental Health Advocate and have seen/heard so many stories of people feeling that hopelessness. I know I don’t know you personally, but for what it’s worth, I’m glad you are still here. You matter SO much, and so does your life story. Your sharing helps people more than you know, even if you never meet.

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  • dewey

    dewey dewey

    Reply Author

    thank you

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  • Colin

    Colin Colin

    Reply Author

    Im sorry, Im 12, and I think were dealing with similer, if not the same clinical deppresion

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  • Colin

    Colin Colin

    Reply Author

    thank you for letting me know Im not , well that I’m not alone

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    • You Matter

      Colin, You are not alone. From your other post, it sounds like you are dealing with something similar. Through that you offer kind words for others and that shows you are a gentle, sweet soul. Please call us anytime at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) – call us 24/7 – we are here for you!

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    • Sivana

      Sivana Sivana

      Reply Author

      Collin, I know how you are feeling, im a little older than you (14) but I started suffering with depression around your age, and it just got worse, my advice for you is get help before it does, the way you feel when you let it grow, its just…… I dont know, you feel helpless, hopeless, empty, like you wont be able to feel any more emotions, yet pain in your heart, and I mean physical pain, still seems to get to you and its crippling. please for yourself everyone who loves you, get help, talk too people, and know that it can get better if you get to it before it gets too big. My one regret is not talking to my mom, and now its too late. Goodbye my friend!

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      • You Matter

        Sivana, we appreciate your support for others. But it’s also not to late for you. Please call us so we may help you get connected with the support you need to heal. We hope to hear from you soon.

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  • Gabbie

    Gabbie Gabbie

    Reply Author

    Hi, thank you. I kind of understand. I have been dealing with depression and anxiety but to add on to i self harm and have tried to kill myself. No one cares so now i sit in my room all day, locking myself in. I was a happy 14 year old till about 5 months ago when all the problems started again. Every one thinks i’m very beautiful which i don’t like at all because i’m tall as well so that makes me look even older for my age. teachers treat me differently to other kids because i’m in care which doesn’t help me much either. I go to see a counselor but they don’t have much as I’ve still tried to in a nicer way end my life and i still self harm and have have a low self esteem – i hate myself because of how my life has turned out and turning out and just hate how i am. I’m a caring person which definitely doesn’t help with very thing going on. I’ve helped a lot of people if they’ve tried to kill themselves or self harm because i know how they feel. Every single young person that I’ve helped says i would be a great counselor in the future and that i am brave and strong because of what I’ve been through. One teacher was surprised of how i turned out because of what happened in the past especially as most young kids who have had a horrible past turn out badly so like they misbehave, have a really bad attitude, swear a lot and all that sort of stuff and i turned out the opposite because i can be well behaved (i’m not so much at the min because the problems are affecting me) but very quiet and only swear if i’m really angry or upset. I just want to be dead, i don’t think i have a purpose now.
    Something that might make you laugh though: I asked my best friend “what’s our purpose in life?” and her answer was “So men can make us pregnant and to rise the population because with out girls/women the population would be really, really low” I don’t actually know if she was joking to make me laugh and it did make me laugh for a long time but it didn’t exactly help me. Sorry if any of this has upset anyone.

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    • You Matter

      Gabbie, It sounds like you have been a rock for so many people but somewhere a long the way you developed some pretty scary thoughts. Please call us at Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) – let’s talk about what happened and where to go from here. We are here for you, Gabbie!

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  • Gabbie

    Gabbie Gabbie

    Reply Author

    Hey Leah, you’ve done really well in life. I hope i can make it like you did.

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    • Leah Bartlett

      Hi Gabbie, thank you so much for your comment. Sharing our stories is SO hard but you’re really brave to do it. I’m 11 years past being 14 but I remember it being a very painful and confusing time, especially for somebody who struggles with their mental health (I had been suicidal and self-harming at that age as well). I truly believe that you can make it through this and every obstacle that will come your way as you grow and learn more about yourself and the world around you. I also believe that your strength and compassion will make it a much better place for us all to live in. You may not feel like you have a purpose right now, but you have so many years left to live to figure it out. Keep fighting the good fight; it really is worth it, I promise.

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      • Jacob

        Jacob Jacob

        Reply Author

        can someone please help me i am dealing with crippling depression and i am only 13

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        • You Matter

          Jacob, it must be very scary to be dealing with depression and we want you to know that you can call us anytime at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Please call so we can discuss the depression that you have been experiencing and how it has impacted your life. We look forward to talking with you.

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  • Shylee

    Shylee Shylee

    Reply Author

    Thank u Leah for your story, early November of this year I was in your same position of wanting to kill my self I tried to overdose but if it wasn’t for me texting all my love ones goodbye I wouldn’t of ended up going to the hospital and still be living right now. Ever since that day I have been struggling with the thought of how could I do that to everyone I love. One day I could be so happy and than the next day I don’t have the energy to get out of bed

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    • You Matter

      Shylee, We are so glad you are here with us today to share your story. We appreciate that you took the time to reply and share. Thank you!

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  • Diedre

    Diedre Diedre

    Reply Author

    Thank you for sharing

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  • Sivana

    Sivana Sivana

    Reply Author

    I want to say thank you like so many of the other people here, but this didn’t make me feel any different about killing myself. I am 14 but I have depressed and suicidal for 5 years. I have tried to kill myself over 10 times, overdose mostly, I want it all to stop, I don’t want to feel empty anymore, it hurts so much. The last I attempted, my aunt came to visit me, she told me that I was weak and selfish, why does this world need someone who’s weak and selfish? I need help I know I do, but I don’t know how to get it. I feel closer to the edge everyday I just want to end it all, maybe it will be better that way, im always told that when bad things happen, its my fault, so maybe all the bad things will stop if im gone. Please help me.

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    • You Matter

      Sivana, I am sorry to hear you’re in so much pain. No matter how hard things are- hurting yourself is never the answer. I’m glad you know that you need help and are seeking it and am sorry to hear that up until now, you have not knopwn how to get the help. Please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) so that you can find out what resources are available in your area. Your call is routed to the Lifeline center closest to your area code. The local crisis center may have resources such as counseling and other services that you can take advantage of. Don’t hesitate to call us for extra support. We await your call!

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    • Colin

      Colin Colin

      Reply Author

      Sivana you are so important, and I know you’ve been at this for longer then I have, you said 14 right, I feel the hopelessness, but you don’t have to you might not have faith in your future, but I have faith in you, please give me a chance to help I might not have a clue where you are on this planet, but I know your human, like the rest of us, I also know that you don’t just want attention, I know that it’s not to late for you, please, I’m begging you not to kill yourself, I’ve only just heard your story, and I’m already so worried, Suicide, takes the best of us,I don’t know if I can avoid it I know I’ve attempted it, more then once, but It can be avoided, Depression is not a disease, it is a condition, it is treatable, I care about you and I consider you a friend, and I don’t evan know you. I’m sitting at my kitchen table just thinking about you, jacob,gabbie,Leah(congratulations btw), gabbie I see you , I feel your pain, I can barly see my left arm through the cuts, but I’ve stopped, You can too!! you all belong in this world, don’t go please!.

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      • You Matter

        Colin, again, thank you for your earnest support of others. And whenever you ever need extra support, don’t hesitate to give us a call at the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The call is free and confidential and counselors are available 24/7.

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  • Colin

    Colin Colin

    Reply Author

    Sivana please don’t, believe me I’ve been there, tried that, it doesn’t do any one any good, so many people tell me “KYS” or “your no good”, and you know what I said, I said “you know what maybe I am no good but does that make you any better?” I still think about suicide a bit, but I have a therapist, (his names Nick, great guy) and I’ve made little progress, but whenever that voice in my mind tells me to give up I try to laugh at it, now this doesn’t work for everyone, but being a football player I try to laugh at the face of defeat, and I call up a friend and ask if he wants to hangout, and if you don’t want to do this, or you have no one to call, you can call me 610-543-2640, you too Shylee, and you Jacob, don’t worry I didn’t forget Gabbie. your all so brave, it took me an hour just to pull me self together and type in the web address for this site. Like I said before I’ve tried to overdose once or twice I evan have a scar on my wrist but some times I sit on my front porch, put in my earbuds and sing alone to my favorite song, I evan dance like know ones watching,(thank god know one is usally watching ’cause Im really bad at it) and after doing this once or twice, ok fine 5-6 times I think to my self, maybe haven can wait, at least a week. so when ever you feel like killing yourself, rember, you can always talk to me and probaly anyone ealse here. If you don’t want to talk to anyone talk to yourself, I don’t mean quietly talking to your self I mean going outside and yelling “DAMN! LIFE IS GOOD!” I hope you all get the help you need your all so amazing, and YOU MATTER, now to end my long ass comment I consider you all friends, so if you feel like you have none, look to your comouter. I’m here, Jacobs here, gabbies here, sivanas here, Leahs here, Shylees here, and your here, the world WOUL’NT be better without you, now get your lazy but of the computer and go live life life to the fullest. You all ROCK!:)

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    • You Matter

      Colin, thank you for participating in our community and sharing your inspiring story and positive thoughts. Don’t hesitate to call the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) if you ever need extra support. The call is free and confidential and counselors are available 24/7.

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  • MarIa

    MarIa MarIa

    Reply Author

    I am a 12 year old 7th grader. Peer pressure, school stress, death, emotional numbness, and forming social anxiety weigh me down. I told my mom that I had depression and she pushed it off as “teenage hormones” she is getting counseling, but for self-confidence. Im at the point where I’m tired, I can’t take it anymore, I want to stop everything. I want to die. I don’t want to be tired anymore, tired of life, tired of emotions, tired of society. I hate everything about this world and all of its rules. I don’t want to deal with them. I want to cry on someone’s shoulder, but I don’t have anyone to trust. I feel like I’d be better off dead

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    • You Matter

      Marla, it sounds like you are feeling very overwhelmed, tired, and depressed. You also sound frustrated because you do not feel heard. We hear you and we want to help. Please call us at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). We are here for you 24/7!

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  • Colin

    Colin Colin

    Reply Author

    hi Marla

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  • Colin

    Colin Colin

    Reply Author

    Marla, ¨believe me, been there, done that, but every day above ground is a great day remember that¨.

    quote from pitbull

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  • Madison

    Madison Madison

    Reply Author

    Thank you for sharing, Leah. I really needed this tonight. I don’t know if I can get to the same mind set of accepting this as rock bottom and start getting better yet, but this post gave me enough hope to get through the night and hopefully get to the day where I start climbing up. You are very brave for going to the hospital on your own and sharing your story. It makes me feel a little less alone. Thank you.

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