1.9 Learning to Heal

The other day I decided to reach out for help because my anxiety is getting overwhelming. I went in to speak with a counselor at my university. I have a lot bottled up inside, and I needed to talk to someone who wouldn’t judge me. Worrying about being judged is one of the main reasons I never talk to anyone about what Sarah and I went through.

As I was talking to her, we spent the first while just getting my background into perspective. I explained I have had anxiety problems in the past, and that it is starting to affect my job. I can’t be having panic attacks at work. I’m tired of feeling sick all the time. We talked about the move to this city, and about my current living situation. She agreed that living in a centipede-infested basement is terrifying. But that’s not the point of this story. She asked me about my family, and the relationship there. I told her I’m homesick, and that there is a lot of yelling at home when I’m there. I hate when people yell.

And then she asked me if anyone in my family is depressed. I explained to her that my sister used to be, and she used to cut. But she’s okay. I could feel emotion welling up inside of me as I talked about this. Because it reminded me of Sarah.

I started to tell her that one of my best friends used to be really depressed. And just like that, the dam broke and I started bawling my eyes out in front of a woman I had met 20 minutes ago. I told her as much as I could between sobs.

I told her about Sarah’s cutting. About how many times I held her close, wrapping my hands around her wrists to try desperately to stop the bleeding.

About how she used to climb onto buildings or high up into trees, and I would beg her to come down, scared she might jump.

And I told her about the guilt.

I can’t even explain why I feel so guilty for everything. I know I didn’t make her depressed. And I know if I hadn’t been there the night she tried to end it all, she wouldn’t be alive today.

And yet…

Her memory haunts me. It torments my thought, wondering if maybe I did something wrong. If I held her too close. If I was there for her too often.

Sarah’s story isn’t about me. And I know that too. She was sick. She needed someone, and I was there.

But I was far too close to it. I felt every cut as deeply as she did. I just keep the scars on the inside where no one expects to find them, or even bothers to look.

I don’t know what I need, or what will help me. So I’m taking the first step now: I’m talking about it. And no longer just in a journal, or on a blog. I’m talking about it to someone who can see me bleed.

And I just hope that when it starts they are able to stop the bleeding and teach me to heal.

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About janinerussell

The transition to adulthood; reflecting on the past to create a better future.

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