She wondered, would anyone notice?
She wondered, would anyone care?
She wondered, would anyone cry?
She wondered, would anyone remember her?
She wondered no more, and she did it. For herself.
Three years ago…
At the young age of fourteen Bailey was the typical teenage girl. She wore her black hair long and kept the bangs out of her hazel eyes. She wore tight-fitting jeans and dark-colored hoodies. She carried her worn-out backpack on one shoulder and kept both hands in her pockets as she walked between classes with music blasting in her ears.
Yeah, Bailey was pretty typical. She went to school every day, was quiet while her teachers taught, did her work and never made any trouble for anyone.
Her teachers always told her parents how smart she was, how she was always smiling and helping the other students out. They always commented she was reading too much but left her alone so long as she finished her work first and her grades stayed high.
You see, Bailey was pretty typical. She was smart, but she could have been smarter had she applied herself. And she was happy, or at least if you didn't look too closely she was.
Bailey was typical in another way: she came from a divorced family. Bailey's parents had split years ago when she was nine years old. The whole thing was messy and followed by a lot of changes.
Bailey had grown up living in the same house with her mother, father, and two older brothers. Then, her father moved out and they had to move. Bye-bye childhood home, bye-bye familiar neighbourhood, school, and friends. She left it all behind and had to start fresh. Which was hard for the young girl, but that was only the beginning.
Bailey didn't like her new school. She had trouble making friends, so she just read more books. She started getting bullied, so she just read more books. She withdrew into herself, spending whatever time outside of school holed up in her room – and her brothers were doing the same.
This continued on, and when Bailey started high school it was the same thing all over again; new house, new school, new people she could not connect with. Her happiness slowly ebbed away and it was all too soon that her smiles were just for show. While the other ninth grade girls put on make-up, Bailey put on a smile every morning, reapplying it throughout the day and removing it only when she returned home to be applied again the following school day.
There was no one close enough to Bailey to notice the gradual change, or even sudden changes. For nearly a year Bailey had been withdrawn and very unmotivated and unenergetic. Then one day, nearly through the second term of her first year in high school everything changed. Bailey was talking to her classmates more, making friends and spending more time outside of her room. Yet no one thought it strange. No one was close enough to wonder what was different.
And then, late in April, it happened. This seemingly-happy girl Bailey swallowed enough pills to kill herself. She was attempting to end her life; suicide.
Like I had said, Bailey was a typical girl. But at least her attempt was only that, an attempt. Although she had been intent on dying, she did not know enough to be successful. Her mother found her and called nine-one-one. And it was soon discovered what she had done to herself. The race was on.
The paramedic took Bailey to the hospital and saved her. She would be fine… physically. Psychologically was a whole different battle. And here's why: there was one thing Bailey had been doing for the past year no one knew about, she was cutting herself. Nothing too serious, maybe a shallow scar or two left behind here and there but that was it. Once the doctors in the hospital learned this (from Bailey herself) they knew there was more to this girl than what she put forward. Yet, as much as they wanted to help her she refused every approach.
Day after day, week after week, Bailey refused help. And finally the doctors had to give in. After three weeks Bailey was discharged from the general hospital and was forcibly admitted to a psychiatric hospital in the adolescent wing. Yet she still refused help and battled against the social workers for three long months.
Now, I'm not saying she was violent or anything. In fact, she followed all the rules, worked on her studies (they even allowed her to do her tenth grade English credit) but only when it came to anything about her personally did Bailey shut down. She would talk about nothing to do with herself but anything else she enjoyed the conversation.
However, the social workers knew she couldn't stay forever if she refused help. Other adolescents, those who wanted to be helped and get better, needed the space. So finally they agreed to discharge the girl, wondering how long before they heard word of another attempt, or worse.
But, out of all this time there was one thing they learned and could help with. When they discharged Bailey, they did not discharge her into the custody of her mother (whom she had previously lived with) but into the custody of her father.
And thus it was Bailey yet again moved to a new house and went to a new school, this time in a new city. But at least here she made some friends quickly and they were the type of friends who last beyond the school hallways.
Yet, Bailey was still not happy. She could be, and sometimes was for weeks. But she was still frequently depressed. However there was one thing which helped her. You see, even though Bailey had promised all those doctors and social workers, she continued to cut once she left the hospital. Only now they truly were cuts. She retired the small razor that did little damage and began to use a sharp kitchen knife. The cuts were smoother, deeper, bloodier, and they left more obvious scars.
For over three years this was Bailey's life. Every so often she would pick up the knife and cut. It helped her to cope with all the stress in her life and kept her feeling light and more like the younger her – the girl she was before her parents had separated.
It was a coping strategy in a way, although a very poor and dangerous one. Yet, in all that time Bailey was never caught once. She kept it hidden; cutting only her right leg and constantly wearing jeans (even in the height of the summer heat).
And in this time Bailey and her father moved to another house, but she still went to the same high school and still maintained the same friends. Better yet, graduation was closing in, only a few months away.
But, that was when Bailey got caught. Now, at the age of seventeen, she had made a mistake. She had sharpened the knife too much, she had cut too deeply into the back of her calf. The blood was arcing out with every beat of her heart, she had cut open her leg to the vein.
She faced a choice; get help or bleed out. She knew this was not a wound that could heal itself, but no one but her knew about it, yet. This was her chance. Had it been three years earlier Bailey knew she would have let herself die but now was different. Now, there were people who cared about her and would notice her gone. She knew they would remember her, miss her, and wish she was still there to share with them. So Bailey did what she had to do, for them, for herself.
She staunched the bleeding and asked the people who cared about her for help. And help they did; one gave medical advice, another drove her to the ER, one kept giving encouragement, and the last their silent support.
That was the first time Bailey realized exactly how much they all meant to each other. They saved her life and made no big deal about it. That was what unconditional love was all about.
That ER trip earned Bailey thirteen stitched in total; two interior and eleven exterior. She would be limping for the next couple of weeks. But, as she looks back on this, thirteen stitches was worth it because that was the last time she took a blade to her own skin, the last time she knew she would ever want to try killing herself. No matter what happens, Bailey knew she would never again accept death and dying as the only option because there were people who loved her and whom she loved.
And you know how people are always saying "don't kill yourself, things will get better eventually"? Well, they are right. Because Bailey was still alive, she graduated high school. Not only that, but a year later she graduated from college and was accepted into university. With her past experiences, she wanted to devote her life to helping people in the same situations she had been in, and she wanted to help them get through them alive – like her friends had helped her.
The best part? The first week of university she met her first boyfriend and began a strong relationship with a man who not only gives her another reason to stay alive, but adds his unconditional love to her as well. Now, over a year later, she's still attending university, still happily in love with the same man, and though she still struggles from time to time she never again thinks suicide is the best and/or only option to her struggles and stressors in life. She's happier than she has been in a very long time and wants to continue being happy for the rest of her, long, life.
How do I know all of this you may ask?
Well, because I am Bailey. My teenage years were a real struggle, from thirteen to nineteen, but I made it through – sometimes against the odds – and I'm still kicking. Now, I'm about to turn twenty years old and I'm so happy I've made it to where I am. I'm finally beginning to think I am where I was always meant to be, and I'm wanting to share my story because I know there are a lot of people out there struggling in their own stories, alone. I want people to know you don't need a perfect past to be happy, you just need to be alive. You need to keep your head above water and make it through every day because things will always get better. Maybe not in a day or a month or a year, but they will get better.
And you know what? You'll be able to wake up one day, look back at where you were and where you are now and be able to think, "It did get better, somewhere along the way when I wasn't paying attention. I'm glad I made it."
I did, and you will too. Keep strong, and know there are people out in the world who love you… You just may not have met them yet is all.