I was seven when…

I was seven years old the first time I attempted suicide. I remember it so vividly to this day. It was early October. I was in our bathroom, crying, thinking about the torture I had endured at the hands of my babysitter’s teenage son. I had already gone through his “fun” for over a year, but I couldn’t tell anyone because I felt like I had no one. My bathrobe’s rope seemed like it would do the trick. Luckily, I didn’t know how to tie a proper knot, and nothing happened that day.

The sexual abuse lasted another year and a half. More attempts took place, and my eating disorder began. Good girls got cookies. I did what they forced me to do. I was a good girl. I binged on cookies. The pain never went away.

The next serious attempt happened in Grade 9 with a handful of leftover medications. I went to school and my friend Sara convinced me to go to the guidance councillor. My dad was called, and I was referred to a psychiatrist for the first time. Depression they said. Six more attempts would take place between Grade 9 and 12, none successful, none the wiser. The world kept turning.

My first year of university came with a hard blow with the passing of my Nonna in November. I fell into a deep depression. The thoughts of ending it were loud in my head, but I held on.

Things start to spiral in 2006. I miscarry. I’m completely alone. The man I love torn away from me. I have no one. I’m forced to ask for a divorce that I don’t want. I love him so much, but I know he’s better off without me and my baggage. I can’t cope. I try two more times. I’m certain he and the world are better off without me.

Then 2008 happened – three attempts, a full-blown eating disorder, and no semblance of who I was as a person. Lying, binging, vomiting, wanting it to just end. He saved my life. He told my parents I was overdosing. Cue the hospital hold, and the revelation I had an eating disorder.

Cutting and scratching help me deal with the rawness and knowledge that people now knew my secrets. Well, all but one.

Four months later, I’m admitted for inpatient treatment at Homewood for an eating disorder. The new diagnosis: bipolar disorder. But my shame builds and finally erupts three weeks into my stay at the hospital.

I was six years old when he said, “Let’s play a game…” The flashbacks become too great. I can feel the wall from his basement on my back. I can feel his hands on my body. He enjoyed taking his time getting to “learn more about me.” I can’t scream. I can’t cry. I just become numb. Another flashback hits. I’m on the bus ride back to the babysitter after school. He’s on the bus with me and tells me I’m not allowed to sit with anyone but him. I’m wearing a pretty sundress that I was so excited to show off at school. He talks to his friends, while I look out the window and silently cry. He uses his backpack to cover up that his hand is up my dress. On a bus full of kids, and I’m completely alone. I spilled fruit punch on that dress when we got to his house so I never had to wear the dress again. The memories don’t stop flooding my mind. The doctor is called to sedate me. I want it to end, but I make it through. Mentally exhausted and not sure I can take anymore.

I get released from Homewood full of hope, only to find out the guy who I was seeing cheated on me. Before I went to Homewood, I gave him an out. He didn’t need to be with me. But he wanted to stay. I thought he would be my fresh start. My recovery was based on him. It was a lie. I take a whole bottle of extra-strength Tylenol. No one realizes what I’ve done for three days, then my mom clues in. Back to the psychologists, psychiatrists and out-patient treatment. But I finally start to find out who I really am.

I celebrated my 10 year anniversary since graduating Homewood this past spring. I still struggle, but I look at the positives in my life. My husband, my two precious dogs, and my closest and dearest family and friends.

There are days when the negative thoughts try to win, but I fight the good fight. Today, I’ve won. Tomorrow is a new battle.

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Please don’t judge those who have taken their life or considered taking their life. When it comes to the war of the mind, your judgement isn’t needed.

This is my story.

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