The Best Thing Ever - By: Sarah

November 2nd, 2017

After surviving an abusive childhood, I was severely depressed, cutting myself, and wanting to die. I ended up at David Lawrence Center . . . and I started to feel hope for the first time.

A little over a year ago, I was ready to kill myself. I was only 14.

For about 10 years in my childhood, my father had been horribly abusive—verbally and physically—to me and my mom. Once, when I was very young, he held my mom at gunpoint, threatening to kill us both. He was always yelling and putting us down. He would torment me, call me names, and hit me. He controlled who we saw, including family members.

I lived in a constant state of hopelessness.

I coped by cutting myself, using razors all over my body. That self-inflicted pain was easier to deal with than anything my dad had done to me. Sometimes the cuts would be shallow, but sometimes, when I was really angry or depressed, I’d cut dangerously deep. I’d even cut through my old scars to deal with my raging emotions. I also took pills and drank alcohol to try to numb my pain.

My mom and I finally got out of that situation in early 2016 after a long and ugly divorce. We moved to Naples, where I was hoping to leave all those awful memories behind and to start over with a new life. It went well for a little while, but the memories started coming back, worse than ever, like nightmares you just can’t escape.

I started cutting myself again, worse than ever. I started drinking and doing drugs again. Anything to cope. One day, after I cut my arms badly, I put some pictures on Instagram and said I wanted to die. Someone at my school saw the pictures, and the principal called my mom. When we got home, I went crazy, screaming that I wanted to kill myself.

Mom called 911, and the police took me to David Lawrence Center, where they put me on lockdown for 72 hours.

It was hard, and it was scary. But it’s the best thing that ever happened to me.

First time I felt hope

The staff at DLC was very compassionate. Once I got past those first couple of days, I realized I was in a safe place. And honestly, that was the first time in my life that I felt hope.

I had nurses, counselors, mentors, and others taking care of me. I’m especially grateful for my therapist, Jennifer St. Hilaire. She took me through a program called DBT, which means Dialectical Behavior Therapy. It’s a fancy term for learning healthy coping skills for those times I’m depressed or angry, and thinking about hurting myself. They taught me how to turn my self-destructive thoughts and habits into skills to keep myself safe—to basically do the exact opposite of what I might be tempted to do.

So, when I wanted to hole up in my room and have a pity party, I would go out with my mom or friends instead. Or if I was getting depressed, I’d play with my dog. If I was having negative thoughts, I’d play a favorite video game or watch TV. Stuff like that.

DBT teaches you about “mindfulness,” which means you focus on the present—not the past or the future. The past can make you upset, and the future can make you anxious. So I’ve gotten better about concentrating on what’s going on right now. I can’t control the past or the future, but I can make good choices right now, today.

One of my favorite TV shows is Grey’s Anatomy, and I’m really inspired by one of the characters, Dr. Amelia Shepherd. She struggles with addictions, like I did for a while. But on the show, she has now been about 1,000 days sober. One thousand days. I want to be able to say that someday. She might be a fictional character, but she has helped me in my own struggles. If she can do it, I can too.

It’s been about a year since that first day at David Lawrence Center. Now I’m back in school, making straight A’s, and playing guitar in a band at school.

I am convinced that without David Lawrence Center, I’d be below rock bottom, if there is such a thing. I might even be dead. Instead, I am happy and filled with hope.

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