Personal Essay

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


The needle on the speedometer inched higher. Higher than you’ve ever been. It’s chilly outside, but you don’t feel it. The darkness outside the car window is suffocating, but you don’t notice. You can’t see the stars, you see leaves blowing but don’t hear the wind. Ninety miles an hour on gravel and you can’t hear it. You see and feel nothing except the speedometer. No sense of time, no sense of panic. Nothing. Absolutely blissful nothing. It’s late, or early depending on your take. You left the apartment when you were sure everyone was asleep. That was hours ago. Your best friends aren’t going to talk you out of it this time. You’re gone, and no one is going to bring you back.

 

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Third of four and daddy’s little princess. Caring, but a smartass. Quick-witted and brilliant. On the first day of preschool, as if looking from an outsider’s perspective, you see the small, curly brown-haired girl meet a blonde-haired girl that never stops talking. Jayme is her name, and she can make friends with anyone, even the little girl who is too shy to speak to anyone else. With Jayme as her voice, and an infectious personality once she’s comfortable around you, the little girl excels. She’s the smartest in her class, and can read and understand concepts from Twain and Hemingway by the time she’s seven, and yet she plays dumb in math and science to avoid the attention.

 

Her desire to avoid attention is what started the inner conflict. She knew she was brilliant, but in a world where looks others’ opinions matter, she hid in an attempt to get breathing room. She was too shy to fit in with the popular girls, but too well liked to be an outcast. She fit in somewhere in the middle, getting along with everyone, no matter other people’s opinions. Empathetic to a fault, she did everything she could to help others. With her older brother as the all-star varsity wrestler and her older sister as the all-star varsity forward on the basketball team, she lost herself in books, knowing that she would never live up to their athletic potential.

 

Despite her desire to be different, the rest of the town saw her as an athletic failure. An academic genius and phenomenal saxophone player, she carved a niche for herself, creating a new identity to the outside, but floating hopelessly inside, no one noticed what had started to happen. She was lost. From the time she was eight years old, she was truly and inconceivably lost.

 

She got straight A’s, tutored the kids who needed help for free, helped her baby brother with school and chores, visited her disabled grandparents and stayed in sports as a pretense to the outside world. She loved softball and cross-country, but hated track and basketball. She ripped apart the cartilage in her right shoulder playing softball on a cold January morning when she was 15, but didn’t tell anyone until it got to the point where she couldn’t raise it above her head. That was 10 months later. She didn’t want to be the weak one, as well as the disappointing one, so she hid it.

 

Socially awkward since birth, she hid her whole life, but remembered the first feeling of inconceivable sadness after her dad’s father died in 2005. The second wave started in 2009 when her mom’s mother died. It went on until mid 2011. Her parents thought she was just being a teenager. They knew about and supported her anxiety, but didn’t understand the rest. Her friends didn’t notice anything. Her teacher’s didn’t notice anything. That was the first time she looked up depression. It was a perfect match.

 

She came back to herself a little bit her sophomore year. Finding some footing also brought on the OCD. Everything had to be perfect in order for her to feel good. She’d redo homework until it was to her liking, she’d organize books in her room until 4 a.m. because she couldn’t sleep if they weren’t perfectly lined up.

 

Then it hit again. She was drowning going into her junior year. Her shoulder hurt so bad she could hardly operate. She was sinking and no one could see it. Because of the location of the tear in her shoulder, it didn’t show up on the MRIs. The doctors thought she was lying and wanted attention, so they put her through hell. She was forcibly put through physical therapy and sent to see a psychologist. Finally a doctor decided to take a chance, and went in for a look and found a large tear. They fixed it and then put her through a 10-month recovery.

 

She rebounded after that a little, but then one of her close friends moved to Kansas City. Seven hours from her home in Osage, Iowa. She began to struggle again before graduation, but felt freed again after she left for Ames. She made new friends that turned into her family, figured out what she wanted to do with her career and began to come out of her shell. She lost her mom’s father her freshman year in 2014, but went through the normal grieving process without the months of sadness.

 

She met a seemingly nice guy her sophomore year in a class. They dated on and off for a year before she found out he had been cheating the whole time, along with being an emotionally abusive partner. And for the girl who always did everything to please others, she felt worthless. She spiraled downwards the summer heading into her junior year. She withdrew from her friends and family and would leave her phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode for days. She didn’t want to live.

 

Unlike the anxiety that had consumed her childhood, the little girl with the curly brown hair knew this was different. Now 20-years-old, she stood barely over five feet and weighed just over 100 pounds, but the weight of racing thoughts made her seem like she was carrying the weight of the world. As she spiraled downwards, the anxiety medication she had been on for years began to have the opposite effect it was supposed to. She wanted to die. There was nothing more she wanted.

 

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And that is how I got to this place. On this gravel road 20 miles from Ames, going 90 miles an hour at 3 a.m., with two bottles of Extra Strength Tylenol and a bottle of anxiety medications. My friends had been trying to get into my head for months. Jayme, Kaylie, Ashley, Justin, Molly, all three of her siblings tried to get in her head, but only one finally broke through. My friend Shelby was the only person I had known who had been as depressed as I was. She had been trying to help me, telling me to lean on my faith in God and the people who love me most. She told me how selfish it would be to take my own life. It would hurt everyone around me. A sign that she was my best friend showed that she knew to play on empathetic nature.

 

For once in my life, I listened. I hit the brakes and came to a stop in the middle of nowhere. Everything Shelby had said raced through my mind. I had water and pills, and had a car to drive off a bridge. Take the pills and drive off the bridge. That way if someone drives by and sees the wreck, I would’ve already over-dosed. That was my thought process. For an hour I sat there. I tried to do it, but gave in to my faith.

 

My friends, family and faith saved my life. I believe suicide is a sin. Always have, always will, but at that time it didn’t matter to me. I believe I am loved by others, but have a hard time loving myself. After my near-suicide attempt, I started to speak out. I got two tattoos. One on my ribs says “We accept the love we think we deserve” and the other is on my left arm and has a heartbeat flat lining, followed by a semicolon and then a resurgent heartbeat, and underneath, it says Philippians 4:13. These are everyday reminders to love myself. I have posted on social media about my struggles, and told different people about them because I want to help. I don’t hate myself anymore, but I still don’t necessarily love myself. Therapy and new medications have helped me get better, but it’s a never-ending battle. I still have days where I can’t get out of bed and days where I don’t want to live. But because of my support system, I have reconnected with everyone who loves me, found a wonderful boy who treats me like a queen and have found the courage to stand up to the demons in my head. Speaking out about these things is going to end the stigma surrounding mental health. People need to know that it’s okay to not be okay. Everyone has a battle to fight, and mine happens to be for a positive mentality. I want to dedicate my life to helping those with similar histories. Just one thing can save a life, and to me, that makes all the difference in the world.


Submitted: April 18, 2018

© Copyright 2023 Mollie May. All rights reserved.

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