By Halie Hawkins

I have attempted suicide.

Twice.

Every time I think back to those moments, my body tenses, and I seem to relive the pain, both physically and emotionally. These have been my lowest times, but they have taught me valuable lessons.

My journey has been difficult and frustrating. I had a beautiful life — I was excelling in school, my parents were supportive, and I had a lot of potential, but my mental illness held me back. I am an 18-year-old college freshman and I have suffered from major depression and anxiety for eight years now. I spent so much energy hating my life and feeling worthless; while also struggling with why I felt that way.

I remember feeling very overwhelmed, isolated and extremely depressed. In my mind, nothing was in my control and my life seemed to be falling apart completely. I couldn’t take the physical and mental pain my brain created, and I lost all will to live.

My second suicide attempt occurred my first semester in college. So much was happening so quickly, and I couldn’t keep up with it emotionally. It began with the anxiety of being in a new place, taking more hours than I should have, and really feeling alone. My anxiety magnified my negative thinking, making it hard to calm down.

I tried ending my life. I sat in my dorm and I ingested a large quantity of pills, intending to overdose. I didn’t know how long it would take, but about 10 minutes in, I began to experience intense pains in my abdomen accompanied by the fear that I was going to suffer in order to die. Soon, my head felt like it was being crushed and I became delirious. All I could do was lay on the floor screaming and crying, waiting for it to end.

It was painful and lonely. I tried picking a way that would ease me peacefully into death’s grip, but that’s not reality.

Death is painful when it’s not natural.

I remember my eyes hurting so badly from how hard I had been crying. I remember how the hospital needles felt like knives. I remember feeling everything. My body was cold to the touch and I couldn’t stop trembling while going in and out of consciousness. It was absolute misery — I felt even more distressed than I had already been.

My mom drove over an hour to come hold my hand and my best friend came that night as well. They saw me at my lowest point and it was painful realizing what I had just done in the lives of my closest relationships. I will never be able to thank them enough for being there.

After being released from the hospital, I began to go to a counselor and psychiatrist, which Baylor University offers to their students at the Baylor Counseling Center.

In counseling, I learned ways to cope with my depression and anxiety such as meditation, exercise and positive thinking. The counseling center also offered a mind and body lab where I could go into a quiet room, pick a meditation/relaxation gadget, and sit back until I felt at peace.

My psychiatrist evaluated me with tests, and we discussed my moods. My doctor then prescribed a medication to increase my serotonin levels and lessen the depression. I was also prescribed three anti-anxiety medications for, well, anxiety. I see my psychiatrist consistently so I can discuss any side effects and try different medications if something isn’t working.

In the seven months that have passed since my last attempt, my mood has brightened up more than ever. Recently, an old family friend told my mom that I finally seemed like myself for the first time in a while, and that’s exactly how I felt. This is the “me” I was supposed to be all along.

If you are experiencing difficulties, I encourage you to tell someone. Tell a trusted friend, parent, or doctor and if you don’t feel comfortable doing that, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You have nothing to be ashamed about, but it is important to get help because your life is valued. Suicide is not the only option.