What It’s Like To Recover

When I was 15 I was thinking pretty seriously about suicide. And I don’t want anyone’s pity, but I do want to stop hearing bad and unnecessary “kill yourself” “jokes” and maybe get some sweet, sweet compassion flowing for people who might need it.

I want to talk about my thought process to recovery. Yes, you do need to recover from that. It takes a lot of work to go from thinking that you are not worth existing, to being confident and happy with who you are. So much work. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but definitely worth every ounce of effort. And it was the best thing I could have ever done for me. Which brings me to number 1:

  1. Knowing that you are more than who you are right now, and taking your own life means taking away any and all potential. All of it.
    It took me a long time to be able to put that into words, but at the time, I couldn’t see how things could ever get better, or why I should even try. But what eventually seeded the idea that I had potential was seeing other people I could relate to or had something in common with, being happy, healthy and themselves. Like, hey. Maybe that could be me someday. And now it is. You might not be happy now, but I promise you; if you work at it, you’ll get there. And you can’t work at it if you’re dead. Don’t let the end credits start running before anyone has the chance to smile with you or hold your hand or ask you if you’re ok.
  2. Asking the scary questions.
    I had to ask myself the questions that were terrifying and unstabling. What that meant for me was questioning what I’d always just accepted as reality, because my “reality” wasn’t really working out for me. Whether it was my “career” (I was 15…), my identity or just day to day decisions; I had to constantly question things I was always just told. Which was scary. But in the long run, questioning things like “Do I like my friends? Do I really want this, or do I want it because other people want it? Why does this interaction always make me uncomfortable?” those questions were crucial to understanding I didn’t deserve to be treated as poorly as I was and that it wasn’t my fault.
  3. Get selfish. Even when it’s really, really hard.
    This one is sometimes hard to hear, because we usually hear “selfish” in such a negative context. But I was ruining my body and brain by putting absolutely everyone else before myself. I never hung out with friends, I let my parents make decisions for me without protest (and that ultimately did more harm to me, than good for them) and I listened to people who told me I wasn’t good enough. But when I realized I was and could be worth more than I thought, I had to make people uncomfortable for being rude, insensitive and often, ignorant. And it wasn’t or isn’t always easy. Put your well-being before anything else. That means getting the sleep you need, the social interaction you want (or don’t want!) and getting the down time you need. Even if someone else needs you: you need your healthy self first.
  4. Letting people help you.
    I didn’t have close friends, or any support system really. And tackling all the tough stuff I’ve mentioned, was 100 times harder when I was alone. Even though I soldiered through it for a few years on my own, I didn’t truly start getting better until I started letting people in. Sharing who I am, who I want to be and learning about other people and who they want to be, was like finally having a hand to hold in the dark. Just because the hand you’re holding may not have a better idea than you on where to go, doesn’t mean it isn’t helpful. It was learning that other people struggle through the rough stuff too and they all handle it with unique resilience. And that resilience is often so beautiful, it will blow your mind. Help doesn’t have to be therapy (though therapy was helpful for me too); it can also just mean someone to share the ride with.
As a great philosopher Drake says: “Started from the bottom, now the whole team here” – success or happiness isn’t reached by one person singularly. These are shared experiences and journeys that we depend on each other to help get there. I may be paraphrasing a little.

So. Once upon a time I didn’t think I was worth anything, really. Like, nothing. But I learned so much about the world, to find out I was definitely worth putting up a fight for. Just like you are. Just like we all are.

I can’t pretend to be an expert or have all the answers, but this is what worked for me. And I’d love for people to know, self-hatred isn’t one’s own fault, but it is something one has the power to change. Remember the people around you are just like you, and we all owe each other a responsibility for compassion.

Best wishes,

Kelly Kitagawa