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How the X-Men Saved Me From Suicide

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

By the time I was 12 years old, I was severely depressed. My suicide plan was decided and at least once a week, I got ready to do it. A few friends from summer camp knew about it, but I was being bullied so badly at school that I had no friends to confide in there and my family was all too easy to hide it from.

I was an expert secret keeper. I hid the bad things that were being done to me; if I told anyone, I just got into even more trouble. I hid how scared and miserable I was all the time. Above all, I hid from everyone the voices in my head.

Everybody knows that hearing voices in your head isn’t considered a good thing. The media was demonizing schizophrenia at the time and I couldn’t risk anyone thinking I was like that. The voices in my head were real, though; in fact, sometimes, they took control of my body.

I was very scared. I didn’t understand who they were or what they wanted. Mostly, they told me things like not to eat, they told me when to stay silent or they took over my body and kept me silent to avoid trouble. Sometimes, I had memory blanks; people would tell me stories of things I had said and done but of which I had no recollection.

It wasn’t until I was 23 years old that I was finally diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder (DID).

In my teens, I had no diagnosis, no clue what was wrong and nobody I could tell. I frequently found myself overwhelmed and unable to cope. I often had a bag packed under my bed in case I needed to run away at short notice. I was scared to run away, though; how would I survive? What would happen if I got dragged back?

My real escape plan was far more permanent.

I lost count of how many nights I sat up on the computer with friends from summer camp talking me down. The complaints from my family that I was ignoring them to text friends, while my friends were trying to convince me to keep on living. Then, there were all the times nobody was there… well, as a Christian, I believe there was someone there.

Time and time again, I sat on my bed, the voices in my head screaming out of control; I couldn’t hear myself think. Insult after insult replayed in my head as I relived the many traumas of my past, many of which I was still being subjected to.

I was worthless; I was unlovable. Those were the top two that berated me day and night. I couldn’t take any more. I just wanted it all to end. I would finally resolve to activate my permanent escape plan. I’d take a breath and stand up from my bed…

But every time, I would spot my X-Men DVDs. My favorite superhero franchise; I used to watch the “X-Men: Evolution” TV show with my brothers when I was a child and the movies came out just as I got old enough to go “crazy” about them. To this day, the X-Men are my favorite superheroes.

I told myself, “one last time.” Then I put the DVD in the player.

Every time, without fail, by the time I finished watching it… I felt calmer. I couldn’t say my desire for it all to end was completely gone, but I found the strength to fight a little longer.

Lots of us have our coping mechanisms. Many of us enjoy watching films to unwind. Yet, there was something more to this; something specific about the X-Men.

Jean Grey.

Jean Grey is my favorite character; partly due to her epic superpowers and partly due to her relationship with Scott Summers — another of my favorite characters. Then there was the other thing — the other thing that was different about her. It was this same thing that gave me hope, made me hold on, even when the voices became too much.

In “X-Men: The Last Stand,” we discover Jean Grey’s mind split and created an alter-ego known as the Phoenix. Phoenix was dangerous, powerful and terrifying in ways the voices in my head never were — I’ve never been a threat to anyone else. The Phoenix threatened everyone Jean Grey loved.

I sat in awe as the story unfolded. Sure, it’s only fiction. Certainly, superheroes are known for doing the right thing. Yet there is something more that helps us relate to stories: the human experience. These characters and storylines are believable because we can relate to the emotions behind their motives. Sometimes we feel we would do the same or perhaps we know others who would.

Jean Grey had another voice in her head. It was a part of her that frightened her. She couldn’t contain it. Sometimes, the Phoenix took over.

Yet, she was still loved. Scott loved her enough to stay with her, even at the risk of his own life. The Professor still reached out to her and believed in her as she grew most out of control; he sacrificed himself for her. All of the X-Men tried to save her, in spite of the fact that it would have been easier to end her, because they loved her.

I watched the X-Men and I saw not only a story where people who were different – with mutant powers – found a place they were accepted. I also saw a story where one character — like me in so many ways with another voice in her head, though, unlike me, was dangerous – found a place where she was accepted and loved.

Time and time again, I reached the end. I needed something to hold on to.

The X-Men gave me hope; it made me hold on to the possibility I wasn’t worthless, I wasn’t unlovable. I just had to keep going until I found the place where I was accepted, with people who would love me.

Image via X-Men Facebook Page

Originally published: May 9, 2019
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