You could write a story on my arms…

The Logic song “1-800-273-8255” has put me in the mood to reevaluate those memories, and it has given me motivation to write a post concerning depression and suicide.

Those words I used a few times in my life. At least from what I have recalled. The first time (I think) was when I was in either 8th or 9th grade.

*  Disclaimer: I find this kind of difficult to talk about. I really held back from people the whole story, and likely, I will here as well. *

It seemed like my family was tearing apart with the conflict that went around my sister and parents. My family just like every other traditional Hispanic family tends to treat the males of the family with a lot more respect and love compared to the females. I was given very little restrictions as far as it came to dating or going out with friends. There were a few things that I had to make sure to do as a boy under the roof of my family’s house. I had to tell my parents where I was going, tell them if I went somewhere else, comeback home before 10 PM, and never stay the night at anyone’s house (being able to stay with my brother was still walking the line). I could date at any age, and I was encouraged to do so. Sex was also encouraged to the point that my parents bought me condoms twice, and allowed me to “rent” out the house for a special evening I had planned out. I even was allowed to bring a girl home the night of New Years and close the doors for undisclosed activities. My parents have been very supportive of me relative to the rest of my siblings. I had the most freedom, relative to them as well. But my sister did not favor from this gender favoritism that so many cultures have today. In many Eastern countries the ratio of male-to-female births are completely out of whack, and some countries even have/had problems with gender-selective abortions.

My sister had significantly stricter rules. Even my mother, a female, does not deliberately know she shows favoritism toward males. That is how she was raised, and it is hard to break the cycle. My sister went through a lot more rules that may have even promoted her to try and rebel. She, like many other Hispanic girls her age, would do exactly the thing the parents were trying to prevent. The support was low. Eventually it got so bad that vocal arguments would be frequent throughout the week, and at times, I would retreat to a corner and cry. Then, after a while, my sister would decide a few times to move out of the house without coming back into contact with my family. There is much more to this story, but that is something I would rather discuss in a more private medium.

(* Disclaimer: my parents are not bad parents. They want the best for their children, and they just tried to raise their children the way they were raised. Unfortunately for them and other traditional families, Hispanic parenting does not work well in American culture. My parents are products of their environment, but they are good people and I love them so much. My whole family is on great terms now with my sister deciding to move back to Arkansas to be with family, and her children often are frequents with my parents. It’s all good now. *)

The first time I said “I could write a story on my arms” was during a time where I felt like my family was falling apart. My sister left, and she came back for her stuff. I was resistant to let my family fall apart, so I did the only thing I thought would stop it. I pulled a knife out on the people trying to pack up her stuff. Eventually, I could not do that, and I had to let them take her stuff. My best friend at the time was with me when they finally took her stuff. I was sitting in the driveway next to some tiles. I broke one to get a sharp edge and attempted to cut myself. I stopped immediately because I hated the feeling. I dated an “emo” girl in 7th grade, and I tried to be kind of jock/emo hybrid, but I could never get into cutting myself. I hated it.

“I pulled a knife out on the people trying to pack up her stuff.”

The mental health throughout my adolescence could be described as depressive and anxious. Maybe even impulsive. Today, I think I might have a form of bipolarity disorder. I have tame manic episodes that last for a few weeks, at times, then I have level points, but after a while I randomly get a “low point.” It’s a depressive drop that has no cause, but can be made worse if compounded with other things.  My parents always told me that as a young person, I cannot have problems. I cannot be depressed or anxious because I am too young for that. They think youth means invincibility. But that is not true. Both my brother and sister have attempted suicide in the past. Who could help us manage our emotions? So, all my childhood up to my first month of college, I never went to a psychologist/therapist to see if I had anything.

At times of my adolescence, I would act recklessly in ways that I did not care if I put my life at risk. I do not think I actively tried to take my life, but once I took a lot of pills, and I went to sleep not caring if I woke up the next day.

“But once I took a lot of pills, and I went to sleep not caring if I woke up the next day”

My first semester of college, I went through a bad break up. The girl that brought me to the truth of Salvation – the one that showed me the true perfection I strove for – broke up with me. I felt ripped apart because this girl had so much emotional value invested in her since without her, I might not have been baptized and shown the truth that is the Word of God. This compounded with my obsessive dramatic behavior led me to go into a large depressive state. This is the second time I said that “I could write a story on my arms”. I cut myself like before using the razor sharp (literally; I could shave with it) pocket knife I always kept around, except this time I liked the feeling. I did not hate the sting of the knife cutting my arm. It felt so good. I wanted to keep doing it. It was addictive. The physical pain was blunting the emotional pain, and finally I understood. So I kept going.

I could write a story on my arms.

I knew this was wrong, and I knew that my mental health was at a point that was dangerous. I decided to go to my doctor and tell them about my feelings. I was prescribed an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) to help with leveling me out, and I was also referred to a mental health clinic in the city. They never called to set an appointment, so I never called either. This was because of my anxiety, but this is another story altogether. That semester I stopped dieting and gained 40lbs. Most of that weight was acquired within 2 months actually. Some was muscle, though. I eventually stopped taking them, because I hated the weight gain. I never felt like taking my life. I may have been reckless, but I never actively tried to commit suicide (I don’t think). I did have the attitude of praying for death, or hoping that my day would soon come. I tried to justify it by using the verse where Paul wishes he died so he could be with Christ, but he’d rather stay alive to help the body. I excluded the last part.

Fast-forward to a relationship that I truly cherished, but due to the uncertainty of the relationship lasting, I became extremely depressed. This was the first time in my life that the energy was noticeably drained from my body. She, due to her insecurities of missing me, was unsure if we should be together. I had no power to do anything considering I was thousands of miles away. The day after, I became physically ill and could not attend the post-camp basketball game. I decided to find one of my shaving razors and use the edging razor to start cutting myself, it again felt so good. So I kept going. This time, I knew I could not place the lines of my story on my arms since I had nothing to cover them up. My upper legs were the best solution. I cut so many lines. One girl saw them, but she also shared my same problem of self-harm. She related to me.

My campus minister was able to lift me up from this depression by pointing out I had no fault, and that actually I should have seen the red flags within my relationship and end it. I was on fire after that. I was ready to go back home and break up with her. I could not even stand to message her, I was so fed up. After a few days of cooling down, I decided to try and be rational by making exceptions. If they were not met, I could not continue with the relationship.

After being with her for 10 months, I broke up with her thinking it was the best for her mental health. I was stupid for that. Even though, I did it, I was greatly crushed. I would drink my sadness away (did not work). I do not remember the specifics as to the next time I wrote the lines to the story on my body, but it was during this time. I knew this was dangerous again, so I finally went to a mental health specialist at the U of A. (Side note: the Counseling and Psychological services at Uark sucks horribly. They literally do not accept any popular insurances, or even their own!) I then went to a psychological and counseling center close to my apartment and they started me on therapy and medicine. Today I take another SSRI that is supposed to not make me gain weight and a blood pressure medicine used for performance anxiety.

The last time I decided to write the pain away, I think I was in the Czech Republic. I did not have a knife with me as I forgot to pack one. I also do not remember the events why I decided to cut myself, but alcohol might have been involved around this. I do remember that because I did not have a knife or razor readily available, I broke a glass bottle and saved a shard for myself. That shard was used to give me the false sting of relief.

Today, I return back to Oklahoma after spending a long break at the parent’s house eating turkey and fixing the rust spots on my truck. I never expected to stay longer than the Sunday after Thanksgiving, especially since the pills that make me feel somewhat normal ran out the day before. I have been withdrawing hard from the medicine (dizziness, face tingles, irritability, headaches, loss of balance, increased anxiety that leads to me not doing the things I have to do, and loss of strength/endurance), and I am glad to be back. I had to stay longer because my dad had surgery the Monday after Thanksgiving and I wanted to stay to help him and my mom out with anything. My truck also was not drive-able until today. This all delayed me, which also made me have to ask for extensions for my assignments. But today, I have been binging on 1-800-273-8255 by Logic and writing this post, because my anxiety makes me afraid of doing the work I get graded on. I have a few assignments due pretty soon that I cannot seem to muster up the courage to do them. I have a 14ish-page research paper to do, a 2-4 page research paper critique, an 8-page research paper, discussion board questions (both 3-5 pages), 2-3 page biblical interpreter paper, 2 exams, and a book review. This is all overwhelming to me. This is on top of my anxiety about my crippling loans from the semester, my disdain of the graduate program, and my contemplation of transferring schools. This all would not be a problem for me to do if these assignments were about the bible, but unfortunately, the grad-program is very little bible based and high scholarship based. SO MUCH ANXIETY!

These are part of the things that I struggle with, and they are written as a story on my body. Both my arms and legs had stories written on them, but I hope the next stories I write will not be on lines cut from my flesh, but instead from the line in a page of paper.

If you struggle with depression or anxiety, or you feel like something is wrong with you and no one understands, know that you are not alone. Many people are out there that struggle with mental health, but you should never feel like there is no one out there that cares. I care. And so do others. I never had to use this service, but if you are on a low and you feel like you do not want to be alive, please, please, call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

I’ve been on a low. I’ve been taking my time. I feel like I’m out of my mind. I feel like my life ain’t mine. I finally wanna be alive. I don’t want to die today. I don’t wanna die.

I don’t wanna cry. I don’t wanna cry anymore. I wanna feel alive. I don’t even wanna die anymore. I don’t wanna. I don’t wanna die anymore.

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