By: Stacy Wacks
I know we’ve all had those experiences in our lives where we felt obsolete. I know that for me, the hardest was my freshman year of college.
People always ask me why I would ever leave Florida and come back north for college; I wouldn’t blame them for asking. The weather was amazing and my college at the time was fairly easy: minimal work and lots of play. I was also in an amazing fashion program and got to experience Miami fashion week. I even sang a duet with Billy Joel. I know. Freshman year was a surreal blur, sometimes it’s hard to believe any of that actually happened. I was having an out of body experience. I was dancing on table tops at age 18 in downtown Miami at 2 am. Looking back, I am honestly amazed I even made it back to my dorm room on some nights.
It was my past life, but I wasn’t truly happy.
That’s a big reason why I left. Though I leave that part out for most people who ask me. I shrug it off and just say… “you know, money reasons” or “you, know..I missed my family.” But there was really so much more to that.
It took a long time to feel comfortable telling this story, and I recently opened up about it for the very first time to my roommate Vanessa. This is 3 years later mind you, but finally coming clean to her has really helped me feel comfortable sharing my story.
College in Florida hit me faster than a pile of bricks. I was in a complicated “relationship” with someone back home. But in reality, he had moved on and I was trying to hold onto something that I loved. Something that I loved. Something that was part of home, essentially. It is completely my wrong doing for this happening, and I can’t really blame anyone but myself. But constantly thinking about what I had at home was tearing me apart right from the start. It was only the second night of school and I found myself on the green crying, surrounded by tons of people having fun and enjoying the night time Florida weather. College shouldn’t be like this. I was in a desperate attempt to feel loved again. I had my fair share of mistakes with boys in an attempt to break free from my feelings. Having lost my older brother at such a young age, I always felt a void in my soul where a male figure should be. I tried sleeping with a guy the first week into college to see how it would make me feel. I figured this was a normal occurrence for people our age. I was under the impression having sex with someone at school would make me feel okay.
He spread the event faster than a wildfire that by breakfast in the dining common the next day everyone was giving me looks. I wondered why sex was such a strange thing to everyone. Turns out, he made up extremely hurtful rumors about me to further boost his insecure ego. He even went to so far to tape the condom wrapper to his wall, like a souvenir or something. Like a souvenir of a piece of me he had taken and mutilated. It didn’t stop there with the scary experiences. From that day on, I stopped even thinking about the idea of sleeping with someone. But that didn’t mean the opposite party still didn’t try. People heard of my story, they heard about the “super easy” girl and they wanted to see for themselves. One boy even followed me back to my dorm one night and held me captive in my own room, until I managed to think of a way to get out. Though I never really told anyone that.
It was only the first week of October and I felt so numb and disgusting. I found myself spending my weekends in bed all day. One Sunday, I noticed my roommate left a bottle of Advil out. She was not around but I was. I took 6. I wanted to kill myself, I wanted to take the whole bottle, but I chickened out at the last minute. I called a suicide hotline and the lady calmed me down. I stopped the pills and went to sleep.
Everyone, if you know someone who is struggling, please tell them there are always ways to get help- this particular instance saved my life.
As if things weren’t already down for me, I started really missing my brother. Though I lost him so many years ago, it really started to hit me when I left home. He would never be around to see me graduate high school, and I could never call him from college. I realized how badly I needed him at this point in my life, and I began to be angry with God. Why would he take something so precious from me? From everyone? I knew that I needed to go home.
Upon flying back for a weekend, I was prescribed anti-depressants. But they weren’t me. In fact, they gave me lots of anxiety and I didn’t like the idea of medication. Though I think medication does work, and you should never judge someone for being on it, these particular pills made me feel not like myself. It was an artificial happiness, an artificial me.
The only thing that made me happy was music. It was something I would get lost in everyday because I never had homework or anything to do. But I wasn’t singing. I was just listening. I needed to sing again, but my school didn’t offer any voice classes. I seeked a voice teacher out myself, and I would see her every Friday, but it really wasn’t enough.
So I did what everyone shouldn’t do. I went cold turkey off the medication. I stopped taking the pills entirely, I did not even wean myself off slowly. I flew home for the summer wanting to be pill free. At this point I already knew I was going to state school in the fall. I didn’t think I needed them anymore.
But I was wrong. The cold turkey slowly drove me insane, seriously. I didn’t have a job this summer, so nothing was happening in my life. This is a big reason why I stay so busy all the time nowadays, because I remember the kind of person I was when I had too much free time. I was on a downward spiral, constantly confined to my bed and had no interest in the outside world. I stopped eating. I went to my doctor a month later and he had said that I lost ten pounds. I was obsessed with my weight. I wasn’t allowed to step on a scale anymore. Then it got even worse. I had legitimate panic attacks. One of them which was in my mother’s arms, I’m sure I’ve scarred her forever while I sat on the couch with her telling her that I wanted to die. I had to go to the hospital. It was the scariest few weeks of my life.
Though, all craziness aside, I do owe this dark period of my life for helping me want to change my major to Psychology. The people’s major. I wanted to go school to save others’ lives. Starting at Westfield has saved me, and by the grace of God, great friends, an unbelievably amazing family, psychology, and the power of music.. I have overcome this hurdle in my life, and happy to write about how much I have grown as a person and how much I appreciate everyone in my life so much. I love you guys, and I am happy I am at a place now where I can share this story without fear of judgment.
Let me conclude my story with just exactly how it felt to be me at one point. I remember being just shy of eighteen years old and actually not giving a rat’s ass if I lived to be nineteen or not. I actually felt like my disappearance would not affect a single human. That the absence of my soul would simply grace the minds of my parents, my loved ones, my “friends”…maybe my ex. I knew at one point everyone would quickly move on and that I would rot in the ground. I can’t even believe my brain would let me function in actual reality feeling that way. I can’t believe that a person could feel so low. How could the thoughts of suicide consume me so deeply that the infinite love my parents had for me virtually meant nothing. It was so dreadfully horrifying. It was like a never ending excruciating nightmare. The kind of nightmare where you are screaming just before you jolt awake..but I never woke up. For days I felt isolated in my bed. I felt like a pile of bricks. I felt like any sudden movement to any bone in my body was just too difficult or too heavy to execute. I wanted to execute myself.
So many years have passed now since these darkest months of my life. It was such a slow climb out of a very deep hole. I sat in clinical meetings for a week, hating my life with each passing day. Wondering why the hell I needed to be sitting in that flimsy, fold-out metal chair. I actually resented people who were trying to help me. Thankfully when I got to Westfield, I was able to rebuild myself from the ground up. I left that toxic boy behind, with so many other toxic friendships. My best friend for almost sixteen years told me that I was too much for her to handle. Being suicidal was “too much” for her. Let’s just say I left her behind as well.
I know how you, the reader, are feeling. I know how much it hurts and aches your soul with each passing day. I know your battle, but I also know your victory, and what you are and will be capable of achieving. Learn to let go of the people and the things that have hurt you so badly…and honestly, try and learn to love yourself. It’s ironic and perhaps annoying advice, but you’re the only person you have at the end of the day. Emerge yourself in your passions, STAY busy. Remember why you once loved life so much. Find friends who make you laugh, find a partner who gives you respect. Never settle for any less then what you deserve.
Special thanks to Stacy for this incredibly brave and powerful story. Be sure to keep up with her on her Instagram.
Always remember you are not alone.
You are loved.
Want to submit to Dear Hope and share your story, art, or article related to mental health? Email firstname.lastname@example.org