How Someone Helped Me Through Suicide, Sexual Assault and Studying Abroad
To the girl who told me I wasn’t alone,
First of all, thank you. I knew studying abroad was going to be a challenge for me mentally and that being in a new country, away from my support system, would bring its own additional burdens. As soon as I got here, I wanted to leave. I felt completely and 100% alone. I didn’t understand the dialect of Spanish here, no one spoke English, I was worried about making friends and my suicidal thoughts were worse than ever. In fact, just a few weeks after being here, I was drunk and prepared to end my life. I stood on my apartment balcony, crying, on the phone with a friend from back home who convinced me to just go to bed and just give it the night. Not long after, I was sexually assaulted by a guy here. This just spiraled me further and further into self-harm and self-hate. I didn’t have anyone here I could talk to. I hadn’t really made any friends, and I was struggling to be vulnerable and honest in a country where mental health was not talked about and the stigma was high.
I first saw you at orientation. You came with a couple other students from the university at which we would be studying, to give a presentation. As natives, you wanted to give us friends and people we could talk to who lived here. You were so upbeat when you spoke and your passion and love for international programs and students shined bright. I remember thinking you were so cool, and exactly the kind of person I would love to be friends with. But, anxiety got the better of me and I was always too nervous to reach out to you.
I came to a few of the events you and your club organized for us international students at the beginning, but as depression and anxiety dug their claws in deeper and deeper, I stopped going. I wanted to go, but I just kept isolating myself. As the months wore on, things started to catch up to me. I desperately just wanted to tell someone here about what had happened and what was going on. There were so many nights I drafted a text to send you, even though we didn’t know each other very well, but I could never bring myself to send it.
Until one day, I got a message from you. I had posted a picture of a tattoo I had gotten here on Facebook — it was on my wrist and symbolized the saying “God is greater than the highs and lows.” I have always been very open with my struggles, and when I posted this I talked about my struggle with self-harm over the years and the significance this tattoo held. You saw it and you sent me a text, asking me how I was. I deflected, saying I was good and asked how you were. Thankfully, you saw through it.
You told me you had seen my post on Facebook and wanted to let me know that you, too, had struggled with that. You told me I was not alone and you were here for me, no matter what, if I needed someone to talk to. I remember I broke down in tears when I got that text from you. I opened up about the sexual assault to you and how much I had been struggling abroad. You met me with such grace and love and understanding. Last night, we finally had the chance to meet in person.
I was nervous, since talking is difficult for me, but that conversation meant the world to me. You sat down on a bench next to me, let me talk and say whatever I wanted, and then you stopped, and you looked me in the eyes. And you told me I was not alone. That I was never alone. I could tell you meant it. These weren’t just words. You told me I was strong, and smart, and beautiful, and worth so much more than I thought. I remember smiling, laughing a bit because I don’t know how to take a compliment. You looked at me and told me you weren’t kidding, that you were serious, that you weren’t just saying these words to say them. You asked me if I had been harming myself while I was abroad. When I said yes, you looked heartbroken. You asked why I hadn’t told anyone, and I told you I had no idea who I could tell here. You told me you were here for me and I was not alone.
It meant everything to me. Thank you. I have felt so alone in this country, and you proved to me I wasn’t. You went out of your way and did something not many people would have done for someone who is practically a stranger. It means more to me than you could possibly know. You mean more to me than you could know. Thank you.
To the girl who told me I wasn’t alone: Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
P.S. I am here to tell whoever is reading this that you, too, are not alone. You have a community here on the Mighty and a community wherever you are that is ready to be there and show up for you. You are beautiful, worthy, strong and absolutely not alone.
Photo by Drew Coffman on Unsplash