But then something changed. I wasn’t invisible anymore. No. I was singled out. Mocked. Kids would pretend to be nice, but they were really making fun of me. It didn’t take me long to figure it out. An ugly drawing of me was dropped on my desk in passing; a cutting remark on my car, said with a smile. Someone stating that the lunch I brought from home looked like shit. No one would sit by me. No one would ask me to sit by them.
No one talked to me. They talked about me.
It was like I wasn’t a person to them.
I’d never been bullied before. Sure, there were minor incidents at my previous school, but nothing to this level of meanness. Nothing that made me wonder why I was even living. I didn’t know how to deal with it. I lost weight. My skin was washed out, colorless. My smile was forced, and it wasn’t happy. I was slowly dying while living in that atmosphere. It was months of feeling like I’d lost myself, and didn’t know who I was. I would tell my grandparents I was sick, and ask to stay home, just so I wouldn’t have to go to school. And my nerves were frayed to the point that I did feel sick a lot of the time.
I remember crawling into bed with my grandma in the middle of the night, and telling her I wished I was dead. I was crying. She hugged me and told me that, no, I didn’t. But I did.
I don’t talk about this often. In fact, hardly ever have I spoken about this. Do you know how people react when you tell them you tried to kill yourself? (Twice, I have to whisper. Twice for me. But that’s another story.) Sometimes, it’s as if you never spoke. They won’t look into your eyes; they might even visibly step back. Like it’s contagious. It’s not something people talk about. So those of us who have hugged the darkness, and been embraced by it in return, we hide our black secrets. And it makes us feel even more alone.
One morning, the thought of going to school made me panicked to the point that I decided enough was enough. It was destroying me; going there, being there. I was at a breaking point—no, I was broken. I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t. I would rather be dead, then go another day in that setting. After my grandparents left for the day, I took my grandpa’s bottle of insulin pills from the kitchen table, and I swallowed them. I don’t know how many, but it was a lot. I was finally going to be done with it. But then, you see, I became scared. The world was turning gray, and everything was muted, and I was close to passing out.
I called someone; my aunt.
An ambulance came.
I was taken to a hospital.
I had charcoal shoved down my throat with a tube.
I prayed, or I cursed—I’m not sure which—as my dad and my stepmom watched. “Oh, God.” That’s what I said.
And I vomited, repeatedly.
I don’t know if I fainted; I think I had to have, at least partially. It’s all a blur. I had to stay in the hospital for days. I can’t remember how many. People came to visit, all to witness the almost death of Lindy. My sister came, looking stricken, and like she had so many words to say but couldn’t. My little niece wanted to be held, and when I complied, she pulled at the tubes connected to me. She didn’t understand what was going on. I remember an aunt, different from the one I called, bringing me a penny with an angel shape cut out of it, and I carry that angel penny with me to this day. It’s on the keychain to my vehicle.
I had to go to counseling. Ironically, it was the same counselor I saw as a child when we had to go. (Again, another story, and one I’ll probably never fully tell.) She was kind. I liked her. When she asked me what I would do if I had to go back to that school, I told her I would run away.
I went home to my grandparents’. I was allowed to finish the remainder of the school year from home; I had to hand in projects every so often. I wasn’t left alone. All the pills were out of sight. You see, I wasn’t to be trusted after that, and I understand that. I understood it then. I was a liability. The unstable girl who tried to kill herself. I knew they feared I would do it again. But I wouldn’t. Not after that. Because I realized something.
It takes more courage to live than it does to die.
More than anything, I was ashamed. That I didn’t deal with what was going on in a healthier way. That I let a group of insensitive kids destroy my value of myself. That I forgot who I was. That I wasn’t strong enough to fight back. I’m grateful that I was given another chance at this ugly life, and I don’t regret learning how sacred it is. Again, irony. I could have died. And I didn’t. I’m here until I’m not, and I have no say in it. As it should be.
I am telling you all of this, because I am writing a story about it now. Based on fact, with fiction twisted into it, you’ll soon get to read about Alexis, Nick, and Melanie. The bullies and the bullied—if you can get out of high school alive, you can survive anything.