Today, I am a college student, an athlete, a sister, a daughter, a friend. I am healthy and I am happy. In 2004 it was a different story. In 2004 VirtualTeen first started. In 2004 I was fifteen years old and needed help, badly. In 2004 my fifteen year old self found the baby VT and I began to get the help I needed to get myself to where I am today.
I started self harming (I say "self harm" because, although cutting was my main outlet, I had many other ways of physically abusing myself) when I was 12; but I didn't know anyone else did things like that to themselves until around the time I came to VT. I felt misunderstood, angry at a lot of people, and self hatred most of all. When I found VT I had no idea it would soon become the main part of my life. It didn't take much for me to become completely addicted to this place. First I told my story; I put myself out there and told the truth. The scariest part was that it didn't hurt. I laid my self out on the line and no one was shocked or scandalized or disgusted by me. Then I felt it was only right that I should try to do the same for other people, to make sure everyone felt as amazing as I did when I read my first few comments. So I gave advice and support, and I quickly began to ignore the real issues under my cutting, depression, and anxiety and vowed to never let any member feel alone or be in a crisis without having at least me there to talk them through it.
For a long time I did that, but at the same time I realized that a lot of the advice I was giving out could help me too, so I made a plan: at the beginning of the summer, I was going to tell the only person in the world I trusted enough to tell in person that I have a problem with cutting and that I wanted their help to find a place to get help over the summer. It seemed like a good plan at the time, but at that point I was cutting so often and so deep that going more than 3-5 hours without cutting would leave me feeling physically and mentally uncomfortable, and around the 5th hour I would start shaking and get migraines and eventually it would elevate to vomiting. I would cut in school, but the frequent bathroom brakes began to draw attention, so I switched to pulling my arms inside of the hoodie I was wearing and cutting in the middle of class. When the summer began I rationalized to myself that I could quit, or at least control my cutting with out help and never talked to the friend.
For a few months everything was fine. I kept my friends and family at a distance and immersed myself in VirtualTeen. Then everything changed when someone close to me from "real life" found the link and read everything I had ever posted and printed things up to show to other people, made mini posters of me saying horrible things about me, and worst of all made an account on VT and tried to make everyone here hate me. My safe place was no longer mine, and it was no longer safe. I said sorry to everyone here and abandoned the forum. Not only did I lose VT, which was my lifeline for many months until that point, I also couldn't make amends with most of the people I used to be close with outside of the internet, because they all had one problem or another with me after the truth (and many lies courtesy of the former friend) came out. I spent September through mid-January struggling to keep it together, then, roughly two weeks after my 16th birthday I attempted suicide. My mother found me and I was hospitalized. I spent a week in a psych ward and convinced them all that I was fine, and two weeks after I got out I did the same thing again. The second time they did not believe me when I said I was fine and put on the same act. I was taken from my home and put in a half way house. I missed over a month of school because they were giving me out patient group therapy everyday for 6 hours a day. When I finally got out of the half way house I was living with a friend of the family, going to a different school, and I was emotionally raw. I was alienated from my family, my friends, and the life I used to live was no longer acceptable in the new home where I was living. It was my rock bottom.
I began to see a social worker, who I met while I was in the hospital, regularly (still to this day she and I meet, only now she is more my mentor than therapist) and we began the hardest battle I have ever fought, hopefully the hardest I will ever have to. I fought mental illness and I won. I began with therapy once a week and lots of medications. Every 3-4 months I would see my doctor and get the anti-depressants/psychotics/anxiety medications changed and fine tuned until he thought I had the perfect cocktail set to keep me sane for the rest of my life (by the way kids, he told me I would need to be on the "anti medications" for the rest of my life because I had such bad chemical imbalances - today I am completely med-free.) The most important part of my attempt to beat the problems I had was my desire to change and my drive to get there. Truly beating chronic major-depression is an amazing accomplishment! The feelings of apathy and lethargy combated the desire to be released from the hell I was living and there were many times when I gave up, and fell back into the warm blanket of depression. But I always got up again, and that was the key. I learned that it is 100% okay to give up, take a break, or have a temper tantrum involving tons of kicking and screaming; as long as I tried again and got a little bit further towards being healthy I was still making progress. I get along so well with my therapist because she is not one to take the easy way, and neither am I. If there was something that I wasn’t telling her, or something didn’t feel right she would dig until she found it out or we could solve it. I didn’t hide things from her. I didn’t try to sugar coat things I’ve done or brush over big deals. When I was in therapy for a year she looked back on her notes from the first few meetings I had with her and I was amazed at what a difference there was. After two years we did the same thing, and now, four years after I started seeing her regularly, I don’t need to go over the old notes to know that I am such a different person than I was before. Since the time when I first abandoned VirtualTeen I came back to it a few times, but it was never the same. The people were roughly the same, but I was different.
I stopped cutting sometime in late summer 2007. It didn’t do the same things it used to do for me. I still want to cut sometimes, and there are moments when I am thankful that I no longer carry a razor with me at all times, because I would use it if it were readily available. I can honestly say though that I will never self harm again.
In the fall of 2007 I was the closest I have been in a long time to relapsing into the state I was in when I was 16. I got through it and came out of spring 2008 feeling like a new person. I call that winter my “spiritual cleansing period” because I feel like I went into it with all the residue and leftover bits of the hard times I had gone through since I started fighting for myself and I came out completely refreshed and new. I had never known before, but everything I saw was more or less in gray-scale, because when spring came, I saw the trees and flowers and the sky and lakes and everything around me, and they were made with the brightest, most vibrant colors and textures I have ever seen.
My dream for years was simply to be happy. Every eyelash I found, every dandelion I scattered into the wind, every candle I blew out was marked by the wish to be happy. Today is my 20th birthday and I am happy. The fight is worth it. I am happy.
Author: dying lullaby (member since April 7th, 2004).