Take care of yourself

Nick Garza, Staff writer

Trigger warning: Suicide, depression, drug abuse

In June of 2019, I tried to kill myself. I was addicted to Xanax, I had pushed away most of my friends and I hated myself. One sunny morning I just woke up and realized I didn’t want to be alive anymore. I swallowed the last of my pills and laid back down in bed. Goodbye, cruel world; sorry for taking up space.

And suddenly, I was awake. Every part of me hurt, and I could barely move my body, so I just laid in bed for a while thinking, taking in the world I was still a part of. Eventually, I mustered the strength to pick up my phone. It was almost dead too, but now I knew two days had passed without worry. The only new notifications were some email promotions. Nobody was looking for me. If they were, they didn’t care enough to reach out. I had so distanced myself from my mother that she barely even registered my absence. To the rest of the world, I may as well have never existed. 

The next few weeks are hard to describe. Things got better, briefly, when I started to come to terms with the meaningless life I had been living. Then Xanax withdrawals hit, and I spent a few miserable weeks in bed. But then things started to get better again. I kept my attempted self-annihilation to myself and took some time to think about the two days I spent unconscious. The Earth kept spinning and the people around me kept living their lives. Did they just not care about me? Did they ever? Could I disappear forever without anyone even noticing? These are stupid questions thought up by a sick, sad little boy. Of course, people care about me. Of course, people love me. But they have enough on their plates dealing with their own pain, their own problems, their own misery. Nobody is going to save me. I have to get through this on my own.

I didn’t have anyone to go to for support back then, so my path to emotional maturity was an uphill battle I consistently lost. I quit Xanax and then I started smoking. I stopped smoking and then I was playing video games for ten hours a day. But eventually, through the sheer amount of free time I had that summer (no friends, no hobbies, no real interest in the outside world), I started to find myself. I saw my reflection in certain movies, heard songs seemingly written for me. Things that made me realize I wasn’t alone. I found things I cared about, activities to pour my passion into. I took up drawing, then making music, then writing. I wasn’t very good at any of these, but I was making something I could be proud of. For once, rather than consuming, I was creating. It occurs to me now that shortly after I woke up from my two-day nap, the person I was really did die. But I realized that the person I was, the person I am, the person I will be-none are set in stone. I have the power to change. I didn’t find my worth as a person. I gave myself worth as a person.

What is your raison d’etre? What is your reason for being? Seriously, think about it. What is the reason why you exist? To make art? To help others? To help yourself? For a long time, I couldn’t have told you mine myself. I had no clue. I was here because I was born. I continued living because even a purposeless life, while painful, is still more comfortable than death. Living is painful. There’s no getting around it. Most of us cope with our humanity by means of escapism. We drink, smoke, play video games, have sex, risk our lives, all to get away from the feeling of being a human with a body. But it still hurts. You think you’re safe, protected from the real world by whatever veil you hide behind, but the pain doesn’t go away. The only path forward is through the burning, blinding light of reality.

Nobody can give you value as a person. Nobody can save you from yourself. You’ll quickly fall apart if you try to lean on others rather than stand on your own two feet. Life may be pretty terrible for you right now. Maybe your material circumstances aren’t that great, and you’re barely scraping by week to week. Maybe the person you used to lean on is no longer available. Maybe life should be great, and you have everything you need and all the love and support you could ask for, but you still feel empty inside. Everyone can understand that, and most can empathize with your struggle. But we’re too preoccupied trying to take care of ourselves to help you. There are people who love you. There are people who would ache for the rest of their lives if something happened to you. But ultimately, they have nothing to offer you but support as you learn how to love yourself. Take some time, and figure out why you’re here. Look in the mirror, and learn to love the damaged person staring back at you. No matter how far you’ve fallen, you still have the power to make tomorrow better than today.