As some of you know I shared some of my story last night at an amazing event some of my many new friends helped me put together! I wrote this out as a way to express what I was feeling and what I have been through. I didn't say this all word for word but I wanted to share a little more with all of you!
I want everyone to look to the person to your left right away what do you see? Most of us would say the person I'm sitting next to duh, or a girl with long hair,or a guy with green eyes. Do any of you see depression, anxiety, a cutter, or a mental illness on that persons face? No, and that's because nine times out of ten when we struggle with something that hard and at times down right scary we fight like hell to hide it. We fight so that we can make sure all people see when they look at us is what we want them to see.
In my life I have become a master of my masks. I have it down to a t who I need to be for all the different groups of people in my life. And become a pro at making sure my masks were bullet proof, and there was no chance anyone could see who I truly was. I kept this game up all through high school and most of college. For a while all this meant was making sure I always looked cool to my friends and I never showed them how scared I was to mess up or to do something out of my comfort zone. Instead I always made sure I had a smile on my face and a skip in my step. When I got to college I started to realize I would have to create new masks to cover the cracks that started to show. Inside I was breaking, I was struggling with depression, anxiety and later on cutting. I didn't want anyone to see, and to be honest I didn't want to see it myself so I did everything I could to hide it. I would walk to class with a smile on my face and friends who would smile back because they saw the happy me. But after class I would go to my room and I would cry, or I would lock my door and not come out for hours. I always had a great excuse and no one really doubted me, and this was the way I lived my life. For a long time it worked like clock work, but one night my clock stopped. I had just had a fight with a friend I went to my room locked my door and grabbed a pen cap and etched the word looser in my forearm. When I looked down at my stinging arm I thought to myself "good you're in pain, just like the person you just caused pain." and I felt relief. In time I experimented with other ways to find that relief. I used thumb tacks, pen caps, broken bobby pins anything I could find to help me find that relief, even if only for a moment. In time it went from writing looser to writing fail, and in time it went from using a pen cap, to using a box cutter. I felt that for every emotional scar I had, or I gave to someone else I had to make a physical scar to even the playing field. As time went on I started to struggle more and more with depression, and these things feed off each other until there is nothing left. For quite some time I struggled with why I was doing this to myself. How did it go from being upset about something, to picking up a box cutter and cutting the word fail into my leg? This feeling of defeat and confusion lead me to a place where I felt I had nothing left to get up for in the morning, and sometimes I didn't get out of bed. I had times where it got so dark I literally have had to ask those around me at the time what happened, because I couldn't remember. There are also times I don't want to remember because the pain was so vivid and the emotions so strong that I shut down from it all. In these times I struggled with suicide, and at one point I was taken to the hospital in a cop car because they were able to see through my mask and they knew I wasn't ok.
It is pretty safe to say that my masks were not bullet proof and that while I thought I was, I was not very good at keeping them together. And just like a lot of you one of my scariest moments was when I realized that I had been exposed. Others had seen what I was trying so hard to hide, they were seeing me. Some of you may know what this is like and how scary it can be, for some you're not ready to take off your mask. Everyone is at a different stage, and if you walk away with anything from tonight let it be this. No matter what stage you are at, you're not alone.
Some of you are thinking "but lex there is no way anyone can understand what I'm going through and feel this way too." To that I say let someone try, be open to the support and love that so many want to give you. It took me such a long time to get to this point and so many different people to get me there. Once I accepted that these feelings are not something to run from and reached out to those who loved me I found the biggest surprise of all. They wanted to help and they supported me, and some of them even had even struggled with the same things. As I started to look around me I saw that not only did my loved ones support me, but there were so many resources available to me. I found the twloha website one night when I was struggling, and after reading renees story and hearing how complete strangers took her in, and showed her love I found myself in tears. It touched me so deeply that others would support her so passionately and not only that but with out judgment. Her story inspired me to want to join the movement she had inspired, and instead of writing hate on my arms, I choose to write love.
One night I was watching MTV and this show came on about 4 guys with a list of 100 things to do before they die. As many of you know there are some pretty crazy things on this list and for most people completing that list would be enough. But for Ben, Duncan, Jonnie, and Dave it wasn't. They have a desire to help others along the way, and make sure they do whatever they can to help them realize their hopes and fulfill their dreams. As I watched this show and saw the genuineness and passion these guys had, it awoke something in me, and they inspired me to truly and fully take off my mask and let who I am scars and all shine through.
We are here tonight to break the molds, and encourage you to take off your mask. You don't have to be afraid to be who you are and feel what you feel. Embrace it, reach out to those around you and let them embrace you. Once you open your heart to that, you will be amazed at what you will find and what you feel capable of doing. If you find yourself feeling that you're ready to make that step find myself or go to the tw stand and talk to us about it. We are here to help you and stand beside you and to let you know you are not alone. If you aren't ready for that step, know that's ok. We will be here for you when you are. Most of all remember we all have a story to tell and no matter how long or how scary every story has a purpose, and every story deserves to be heard.