By Jessica McCallum
I don't know why they call it heartbreak. It feels like every other part of my body is broken too.
I was like any other teenager. I liked the summer and didn't really enjoy school. I loved watching TV and hanging out with my friends. However, as similar as I was to my peers, I was also quite different. It wasn't until I entered tenth grade that I finally become fully and completely aware of my differences.
What made me different, or at least made me feel that way, wasn't anything anyone could see. It wasn't a physical disability or disease, but a mental one. I suffered from severe depression and the moment I finally realised this, I was already too far gone.
It started to get bad when a boy I didn't know committed suicide. Why his death affected me the way it did, I'm not sure, even to this day. What I do know, though, is that I changed that day, completely and entirely. I went home early and sobbed over the boy I didn't know and the people he left behind in such agony. Never had I felt such heart-breaking sorrow before.
I hurt myself for the first time that night. The deep purple bruising on my thighs from where I dug my nails into my skin was a reminder to me of the pain I felt for everyone else. It helped me get past the grief and bury the emotions. Quickly, I turned to more drastic, harmful ways to deal with my internal struggles.
I went from using my nails to pins to knives and razors. I also moved on to cutting my arms, so I could see them every day and feel them and know that they were there. My mental state was deteriorating and I cut myself in response to strong feelings of self-hatred. Sometimes I cut just to remind myself that I was still able to feel anything. I was like a zombie, completely void of emotions except when I locked myself away to cut.
Soon, the effort of hiding my wounds from my parents became too much and eventually I told them what was going on. I was able to stop cutting for several months before it started up again, fiercer and much more severe than ever before. I was scarred from my hands to my shoulders, so I started inflicting wounds on my belly and chest.
I was completely out of control and my parents put me in counselling. I continued to cut and defy my parents and counsellors. They tried to put me on medication but I would dump the pills down the sink. I started to drink and smoke pot with friends and cut when I was alone.
Throughout the three years of high school, I wanted to die, and I toyed with the idea of overdosing on pills. I knew I was in trouble and asked my parents to send me away. But I was scared and when they actually took my pleas seriously, I refused to go.
The day that I started to heal, to finally pick up the pieces, started with my mom sitting me down for a talk. She asked what was wrong with me, why I was so broken. She asked me a single question that I will always remember: "Where did I go wrong?"
After that, I started to change again, but for the better. It was as though my mom's words sparked a need to heal. I realised how much pain I was causing other people and the overwhelming need to cut slowly started to dissipate.
That's not to say it was easy, because it was very difficult. I still cut myself, but not as often, and I still continued to drink. Even after graduating high school, I was suffering. Only after getting caught drinking did I force myself to face my problems. I started counselling again and learned new ways to cope with the emotions that I was feeling.
It's been six years since I started to cut. I'm on medication and I'm okay with that. I know now that I'm dealing with an illness, a disease that has to be treated. I talk about my emotions with my friends and family and turn to them when I'm down, rather then bottling it up.
I will always have my scars and whether I'm okay with that or not, I haven't decided yet. But what I do know is that I fought my way to where I am now and I couldn't be happier to be alive.