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To the Boy Who Made Me Smile in Math Class on My Darkest Days

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Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741

You probably don’t remember it, or maybe you do. Back in math class, all those years ago. We sat the back of the class in the “clever” row. We were trusted to understand and get on with our work. And we did, to an extent. We did chat an awful lot to be fair, though. But not on bad days. You knew when I was having a bad day, I’d be awfully quiet and keep my head down. Little jokes or a smile my way were much more appreciated than you thought. Sometimes they even took suicidal thoughts out of my mind.

You’d noticed my scars on my arms. You never said anything, but I caught you looking at them once. You looked confused but I think you knew they were from self-harm. You were the only one of your group of friends who didn’t make fun of me. I knew it was intended as all friendly and “a laugh,” but you never did it. You were different.

I will always remember the day I returned to school after a week or so of being ill. Everyone knew, it was common knowledge. All of the teachers were tiptoeing around me and our math teacher wasn’t an exception. She came over to our two person desk. She whispered a few sentences, making sure I was doing OK and such, looked your way and disappeared back over to her desk.

We then had a conversation I’d never had with anyone before that point. You spoke honestly and I appreciated that. We spoke about why I had been off school. Your reaction made me relax. You were slightly shocked but you remained open-minded and honest. We spoke about how I had seemed so fine — happy even — and about how it was all an act, a front, a mask. We spoke about mental illness. I don’t think you’d ever spoken about it before. You tried your best to understand as much as you could. I respected you for that. I loved that conversation. Listening to the content, you wouldn’t think so, but I did. It was the first time someone just tried to understand. Not pity me, not make me feel guilty — just understand. And I’ve always wanted to thank you but never found a chance.

So thank you. Thank you for smiling. Thank you for joking around. Thank you for not making fun. Thank you for having that conversation with me. Thank you for asking questions. Thank you for not pitying or guilt tripping me. Thank you for being honest. Thank you for trying to understand.

Thank you for being you, from a girl whose life you once saved with a simple smile in math class.

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

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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Thinkstock photo via recep-bg.

Originally published: April 3, 2017
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