Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Memoir: The Suicide Prevention Hotline

Everything is temporary is a phrase that gets me through the rougher days of my weeks. In the face of problems and uncertainty I’d like to think that there is good to come: light at the end of the tunnel, a rainbow after the storm. When I am nothing but happy I am constantly reminding myself that trouble is ahead, enjoy the moment and soak up the sun while it’s out.
            Everything happens for a reason, things happen because they are supposed to. Or at least I like to think that. If the reason is absent then we neglect the idea of a purpose. I want to have a purpose. I want to add something positive to someone’s life. I want to influence the voice in someone’s head that that tells them to keep going even when they desperately want to quit. And for these intentions, I believe that there are reasons.

It was in my moment of what seemed like eternal uncertainty that I discovered how fragile my mind really is. How I dealt with conflict and the way I invited negativity into my mind proved the power and influence of positive thought.

Since then, upon discovery of self-betterment, my newly pragmatic attitude has allowed me to become by loose definition –a better and more accepting human being.

They say that who we are is how we act when nobody is looking. I’d like to hope that this isn’t true in its entirety, however I cannot argue the rationality of such a statement. When nobody is looking we often become vulnerable, moments of weakness become almost comforting in that we know there is no eye to place judgment on us–we are able to let go. Personal experience has proven this to be true in many senses, but also false in many others.

 I didn’t want to believe that I wasn’t good enough –even though I felt that way. Not good enough. Three words that crushed every motivation I had to try to be better. Though these words were not said, they might as well have been.
            “We regret to inform you that you have not been chosen for admission at Michigan State University.” But what I saw was: We regret to inform you that you did not do enough, that you are not good enough.

Looking back, things could have been worse. Terrible things happen to good people all the time. And if this was my big set back, my disappointment, then my life is nothing that warrants complaining. I know that there are people in the world, that can’t afford an education. There are people with little opportunity, with life threatening problems that mommy and daddy can’t fix. I know this. But that doesn’t mean there is no bruise. Maybe I didn’t try my hardest, maybe it was my fault, I didn’t care enough in high school. But I care now, probably too much, and these three words are what remind me every day to find meaning in everything I do, every person I talk to, every place I go.

It was an unfortunate cold and snowy day in December when I decided I had enough. I was at my bubbies; she threw my cousin Levi a birthday party for his 7th birthday. According to Levi, I’m his favorite, which is what made me feel even guiltier about my mindset from that day. He was trying to sit on my lap and play with my hair when I snapped at him to stop. I wanted to be left alone. I didn’t want to be there, I never wanted to be anywhere but in the comfort of my own bed, where I didn’t have anybody to ask me my plans for college. I didn’t know, and quite frankly, it was pretty fucking annoying being asked what seemed like every five seconds.
“I’m not sure yet,” I’d say. Or I’d make a joke about how I had no idea; I desperately tried to laugh it off, in efforts to convince myself that if I believed it wasn’t bothering me, eventually it wouldn’t. But it was this day in particular that made it all feel worse. I held the gaze of my entire family this time when it was asked. “So have you heard from Michigan State? Do you know when you will? Do you have a back up plan?” My face was beet red. I think I was actually glistening with sweat, not out of nervousness, but I was trying to keep my cool and act like it hadn’t even phased me, like I hadn’t even given a thought about my so uncertain future.
Luckily, my mom jumped in, “We’ll let you know when she knows.” Case closed. The jury had spoken and it was time for everyone to shut the fuck up about it. But not only was it being verbally discussed within earshot of every place I seemed to be, everywhere I looked on social media I read, So excited to say that I’m officially a Michigan Wolverine! Or OFFICIALLY A SPARTAN! GO GREEN GO WHITE! Because when you grow up in the Jewish community of West Bloomfield, Michigan, if you don’t go to the University of Michigan or Michigan State University, you basically don’t go to college. I felt the pressure to do what everyone else was doing though this was what I actually wanted, and in many ways I still do.
The cake was coming out when my aunt Annette started singing Happy Birthday and soon everyone joined in but myself. It was a feeling I had never felt before. Be happy, sing, this is such a happy time when we are altogether. But I felt so miserable, so irrelevant to my own life. I had tears in my eyes but played it off as my contacts bothering me. I excused myself and went to the bathroom and looked in the mirror and I did not recognize myself. I had to get out of there.
Luckily I drove separately from my family. I said I didn’t feel well and the second I closed that car door there were tears rolling down my face like never before. I didn’t even know why. Everything was so bottled up and senior year was sucking and I just wanted to be able to know where I was going to be a year from that very moment. I couldn’t handle not knowing, being asked and not having an answer, crumbling inside with every “I’m not sure yet,” that I had to respond with.
How I managed to drive myself home mid-temper tantrum I do not know. But the second I got home I ran up to my room, dismissed all of my unopened text messages and went to Google.

suicide hotline

I just wanted somebody to talk to, somebody who wasn’t going to ask me what my plans were or when I’d hear back. I wanted to talk to somebody who cared about me, not where I would be getting my education. Somebody who cared about my well being and whether or not I had genuinely smiled yet that day. I needed somebody to ask me if I was ok and be able to take the answer I wasn’t prepared to give. No, I wasn’t ok, and I wasn’t sure why I wasn’t ok, because in hindsight it really wasn’t a huge deal. But in that moment nothing else mattered but feeling ok, or close to it.

A woman answered. I was far too emotional to recall the exact conversation. But I know that she asked me to take a deep breath, to try to calm down because she couldn’t understand me. I didn’t even recognize myself, the sounds I was making, I had a weird ringing noise in my ears. I didn’t want to spell it all out for her but I knew I had to, I needed her to understand that I couldn’t get a hold of my life.

My eyes and cheeks were sore from wiping them so much, there was a sea of used tissues all over my bedroom floor. She cared, and she understood. She told me she could relate, we’ve all been through times where things are out of control, and she told me that I did have some control, I just didn’t recognize it at the time –though I wasn’t practicing it, I did have control over my emotions, over how I reacted to the entire situation. She eventually convinced me to sit down my parents and explain everything to them.

It must have been at least forty-five minutes that I was on the phone when I heard the garage door open. I thanked her endlessly; she saved me from the quicksand of depression that I was falling into.

When I talked to my parents I was surprised to learn that my dad could relate. He had a past I knew nothing about, and it was that day that I began to move forward despite the major disappointment I faced. We truly never know the interior of someone else’s life. I know it scared them that I called the hotline, but I couldn’t stress enough that I was not suicidal, I just felt a pain that wouldn’t go away. It was my parents who pushed me to gain a positive momentum and to reconstruct my lifestyle and response to disappointment.

 I read somewhere a pretty accurate description of depression; it’s like drowning, and the people who love you can see you struggling under the water, but your hands don’t reach, and there’s nothing they can do.

Since then I have been using working out as a stress reliever, I find things that I am able to take control of and use them to my advantage –my eating habits, my schoolwork and grades. I have found so much happiness in the sole ability to see the world out of a much brighter lens. I have learned not to let the things I am unable to control take control of me.

Learning how to take control of our lives in times where control is the only thing we cannot have is a testing experience. But, it seems to be most difficult lessons that teach us lessons of the highest value. I’ve learned more about myself in times of loneliness than any divisive moment could have taught me. I am human. I will fail, I will fall, and I will have many setbacks. There will be many more moments of uncertainty; there are so many things to look forward too, to be nervous about, to be happy. Live for now, live for the person you could't be yesterday and the person you want to be tomorrow. Don’t settle for things you didn’t want in the first place, work for what you want. But most importantly, don’t get too comfortable because it’s all temporary.

1 comment:

  1. I responded to this memoir and the full text of my response can be found on the Community Blog under Monday, March 2nd's entries. The title of my response post is "Week 8: Community Blog Post #5: Critique Two Memoirs".