To the nurse who saved me,
I first met you when I was 18 years old. Scared and lonely, I was trapped in a vicious cycle of self-harm and self-hate. I was the youngest person on an adult psychiatric unit. I felt like a child lost in a swarm of older patients, nurses and doctors. It was my first stay here, and I was petrified.
Your kind face and loud personality drew me to you. I ended up staying there for four months, and each time you spoke with me you chipped away at my hard shell. I was hiding behind my self-harm, cutting myself instead of talking about my feelings. Still, you never gave up. You took me to A&E and held my hand as I got stitches. You made jokes and made me smile on our long wait for transport back to the ward at 3 a.m. You removed countless stitches from my arms so gently and with so much care.
Eventually, after two years of coming and going from the ward, I talked. I talked about what I saw, the trauma that filled my nightmares and made me terrified to leave the house. Trauma and grief all mixed and muddled around so much that I struggled to tell the difference.
You held me as I cried, and you sat patiently as I cried until I had no tears left. You made sure I got into bed safely and got some rest. It calmed me to know you were around somewhere as I slept. You built me back up. You never once gave up on me. You made sure I knew you believed I could beat this, that life wouldn’t always leave me searching for a way out. I wouldn’t always want to die.
You told me things about you. You let me see into your life and what brought you to this point. You gave me so much hope, so much inspiration. You made me want to fight.
You left this ward. You moved onto bigger and better things, as I knew you always would. We met again a few years ago, and we both cried as I told you what I had achieved since you left. You were proud of me, and I was too.
I’m writing this to tell you what you told me I would feel some day: I’m OK. I survived. I’m almost 25 now, and I haven’t cut myself in four months. I’m fighting with a strength I didn’t know I had — one you knew was inside of me all this time. I have my own home, a small one-bedroom flat where me and my little kitten are happy. I’ve been in a relationship with the sweetest girl for two and a half years. She knows everything there is to know about me, and she’s still here, right by my side. I volunteer with a charity who work with teenagers with mental illness. I am who I am today because of you. I owe it all to you. I will be forever grateful. Because of you, I am OK.
If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.
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