“Let me first apologize. This isn’t going to be sassy, funny, witty, or sarcastic. I know that’s a big reason for reading stories like this and if that’s what you’re looking for, I’ll forgive you for closing this tab right now. However, I urge you to take a step out of your comfort zone for the next 5 minutes to hear me out. This is going to be real…. like really real. And very personal. This, in my opinion, is about one of the biggest issues in the world. It’s about mental health.
Maybe this issue is so huge to me because 13 years, 5 months and 28 days ago, my best friend killed herself. Or maybe it’s so huge to me because she was 1 of 30,000 plus people that killed themselves that year. Either way, this is huge to me. Suicide is in the top 3 leading causes of death. But I’m not here to bore you with statistics that I’m sure will go in one ear and out the other. I’m here to get real with you and share my personal story.
Originally, I was going to share Anna’s story. How hard she fought to find peace. How hard I tried to help her but, was still just a kid myself and still feel guilty more than 10 years later. And, most importantly, how if the stigma of mental health didn’t exist, maybe she’d still be here today. But then, as I started writing, I started to feel hypocritical. I mean, how could I write about how there was no shame in struggling with mental health issues while simultaneously hiding mine own? How could I, as a mental health advocate fighting to eradicate the harsh judgment and the preconceived notions of people struggling with mental health issues, sweep what I’ve been through under rug? I couldn’t…I need to be honest with everyone, take a stand, and do the one thing I’ve feared the most…this is honestly, one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but here I go…
Hi, my name’s Caroline Umosella, and by the grace of God and two of the best parents I could’ve ever asked for, I’m still standing here today.
The first time I ever hurt myself on purpose, I was six. The first time I ever thought about taking my own life, I was 13. The first time I ever tried to take my own life, I was 14. I’ve struggled and fought for peace of mind just about as long as I can remember. I fought silently because I was too scared to reach out. I didn’t want to burden anyone with what I thought was ‘ridiculous and frivolous drama’. I knew hurting myself was wrong and I was scared of getting in trouble. And the biggest reason I held it in: I was terrified of rejection. I knew what I was doing to myself and the thoughts and feelings that plagued my mind, heart, and soul, weren’t normal and I was petrified that if I told anyone, they’d turn their back on me. All I wanted was to fit in and be loved. So I kept it inside until one day, I couldn’t handle it on my own anymore. When I was 16, I sat down, scribbled ‘I’m sorry, please don’t hate me, goodbye’ on a piece of paper, and said a prayer to God that ‘if I was supposed to stick around, send me a sign.’ Just then, my computer beeped with an AIM message from a good friend randomly deciding to tell me how much I meant to him. How excited he was to go to the movies with me that evening and how he didn’t know how he would have gotten though the last year of boarding school without me. I guess that was my sign.
My parents came home about 20 minutes later, after I had spilled my entire soul to my friend, and they found my suicide note. That was the beginning of the hardest, longest battle I’ve ever fought. And still continue to fight.
There’s much much more to this story, but I don’t want to bore you with every detail and mental breakdown, and honestly, it’s incredibly hard for me to talk about. I just want to leave you with this notion: Mental health issues don’t just plague one demographic or a specific type of person…mental health illnesses are non-discriminatory. They can affect anyone and everyone, and chances are, someone within your closest circle is fighting for peace of mind.
I’m not going to pretend that my story has a ‘happily ever after’ ending. There are still days that are so painful that even breathing hurts and trying to get out of bed is nearly impossible. I still wake up and go to war with my mind every single day. But over the past several years, I have developed ways to get through these days and found the determination and will to keep fighting. Each day is a battle, but I refuse to lose.
So, my message to you is this: if you’re struggling, please know that help is available, there’s no shame in asking for help, and it really does get better. You are not alone. And if you’re a bystander, know that there are people all around you fighting. Please don’t be judgmental and know that mental health issues do not deem a person as ‘crazy’, ‘not fun’, ‘unmanageable’, or as ‘having a lot of baggage’. Join the fight to eradicate these, and all the stigmas, of mental health. Talking about this might seem taboo and societal norms may tell us to pretend it doesn’t exist, but the more we talk, the better this issue can become. So, let’s start a conversation.”
If you’re thinking about hurting yourself, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionhotline.org to live chat with someone. Help is out there and you are not alone.]
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