I Used to Say 'If I Make It to 20, That Would Be Enough'


As a little girl, I remember telling my family, “If I make it to 20, that would be enough for me.” My answer remained the same until I was discharged from my last hospitalization five years ago. For over a decade, psychologists droned out the basic psych evaluation questions and I easily recited the same thing every time: I don’t see, hear or talk to people that aren’t there. I’m not homicidal. I’m not suicidal. The latter always felt like a lie because in a way, it was. I hadn’t seriously considered extinguishing my own life, but I don’t think I would have cared had it been put into someone else’s hands.

One morning in eighth grade, I woke up and I couldn’t will myself to leave my apartment for school. I had just been discharged from my second hospitalization and I couldn’t handle the thought of even trying to catch up on the work I had missed. I held onto the knob of the front door and stared at it for a while before making my decision. I opened and closed the door so my mom would think I had left, went back to my room and sat at the bottom of my closet. I guess it’s ironic I didn’t call myself suicidal, yet I literally put myself in a wooden box. I stayed in there for five hours until my mom found me. I thought she would be furious, but when she slid the closet door open, I saw how devastated she looked — in that moment, I realized the reality of the situation and my mental illnesses. I hadn’t just skipped school and stayed home. I had put myself away, given up and didn’t care if the world kept spinning without me.

I didn’t know it at the time, but everything I said and did contradicted what I would reel off during psych evaluations. Recently, a family member asked me if I remembered what I had said about living to 20. Until she said it, I didn’t realize how scary it was for people to hear me say things like that. For a brief moment, I went back to a place of feeling like a burden, but remembered the people who care about me would rather have me in the worst state possible than not have me at all.

I’m writing this not to silence those struggling, but to remind them there are people who care, even if they can’t see it yet. I keep the nightmares, memories and trauma with me, not so I can embrace the pain and choose to stay in my crucible because it’s easier, but so I never forget anything when I feel like writing — because it’s worth it if I reach at least one person.

I’m writing this on my 20th birthday to remind myself I did make it to 20, and I get to tell my own story.

This post originally appeared on the SU Active Minds blog.

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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