Despite the fact that people keep sending me emails that say that I am super cool (Thank you people!) I have never been super cool, not in the traditional sense.
When I was little, I had glasses and slurred my s’s so badly that I basically stopped talking in first grade, just so Jayed Jamison would stop tormenting me and mocking my voice.
When I was in seventh grade, I had a teacher who told me that because I slurred my s’s I would:
- Never be loved
- Never get a job
- Never be taken seriously
- Always, always be laughed at.
Both of these times broke me all the way down. I believed that I would never get anything, that I would always be mocked, never taken seriously. But friends, and something weird inside myself got me through and made me realize that Jayed and that teacher were totally, undeniably assy.
Then, when I was a freshman in college, I got mono. The virus also attacked my brain and gave me seizures. It didn’t matter to me that 25 million people in just the U.S. have had seizures. It didn’t matter. There’s a stigma. And it was very hard for me to get it under control because the anti-seizure medicines kept making my blood toxic or giving me side effects.
Once during all this, I wanted to die so badly that I stood on Lisbon Street in Lewiston, Maine and tried to decide which car to jump in front of. There were lots of reasons I felt that way at the time and one of those reasons was my seizure medication had thrown my entire body totally out of whack. But honestly? The reasons don't matter any more. What mattered was the pain. What mattered is that I wanted to die because I thought that I hurt too much to live.
One of my friends, Eric Stamper, got me through it. He was an angel boy.
That and I felt too badly for the driver of the car. Because honestly? It wouldn’t be fair of me to screw up someone else’s life like that. Then I thought about the police who would respond to the scene. Then I thought about my mom. And, yeah, I didn't want to get paralyzed. The plan didn't seem fool-proof enough. And, I also thought about God and life and existence being a gift even if it is a TERRIBLY difficult gift sometimes.
But for five minutes I stood on the side of the road and hurt and thought about ending the hurt.
Lately on Live Journal and Facebook, in friends-locked posts and in private messages and in conversations on the phone, in news reports and in YouTube videos, I have seen so many people feeling the way I did when I stood on Lisbon Street. I am very lucky. I have never felt that way again, but I remember the feeling.
And I also realized that it's hard to talk about it even though so many people have felt that way too. But it isn't shameful to hurt. It isn't shameful for the pain to be too much for you to handle alone and anyone who says it is? Well, they are full of crud. Sorry. It's true.
But it can get better. And some days it can get a little worse. But mostly? Mostly, it can get better.
And that’s why you don’t listen to Jayed Jamison.
And that’s why you don’t listen to a stupid seventh-grade teacher.
And that’s why you don’t even listen to yourself sometimes.
Because it does get better.
This weekend, I got a message from a girl who is made of awesome. She wanted to kill herself last year, and I got involved. Her year has been amazing, she said. She thanked me for saving her, but I didn’t. She saved herself, but I got to witness how strong and amazing and powerful she is. And that is one of the zillion reasons why I am so glad I didn’t step in front of that car. I am glad because by being alive I get to see people do amazing things. I get to witness people have the power to live and grow and change, to watch as their lives become unbelievably, undeniably better.