Content warning: The following story contains references to bullying, depression, and suicidal ideation, which may be triggering to some readers.
“Enough is Enough,” anonymous
Note: All survivors who reach out to The Art of Survival are given the option to remain anonymous in sharing their story. Any specific details about the survivor are shared at their discretion, and not the creators of the page
My first memory of being bullied was in 5th grade. The first time I seriously considered killing myself was in 6th grade. Sometime after that, while in high school, my mother would “jokingly” refer to me as bipolar. From there, I moved onto college, and later graduate school, continuing to alternate between depression, anxiety, and suicide ideation. During all this I never sought out the help of a therapist to help me with my mental health issues. I’ve just endured and waited for it to pass.
My first recollection of being bullied starts back in the 5th grade; I was at a new school after being moved away from what I had grown up knowing. I started over-eating because I was being bullied and I was being bullied because I was overweight. Circular, I know. Time kept moving, I kept gaining weight, and sometime in the 6th grade the idea of ending it all became more and more appealing. I can’t remember specifics but it somehow came out that I was thinking of killing myself, and while I don’t remember everything that went down after it came out, I do know that my parents never took me to counseling.
Life kept going, I continued to be bullied, and I continued to deal with suicide ideation, but I kept it to myself just trying to endure it all and lived with the glimmer of hope that it would get better someday. Things seemed better in high school, but it really wasn’t; the bullying had just changed forms from being outright to being subtler in the guise of exclusion. The glimmer of hope started to waver as I kept trying to endure it all and anxiety threw itself into the mix. Anxiety joining the party was when my mom started to “jokingly” refer to me as bipolar. Yet while she called me bipolar, she never sought out counseling for me, but constantly reminded me that I wasn’t the only one to be bullied in the family and I just needed to deal with it. So I kept enduring.
I went out of state to college, hoping for the best and praying that things would get better. It did get better, but I never stopped struggling with suicide ideation, anxiety, and sometimes depression. I think the worst bout of suicide ideation was my second semester during my first year of grad school. I didn’t go a week without considering ending my life, because it didn’t feel like anything was getting better. In fact, things were getting worse, but something kept me holding on. Thankfully I did because one thing that I desperately needed turned out in my favor which gave me the strength to keep going until the next thing turned around.
Now here I am, over a year into my career field, and I am still struggling with my mental health. This weekend was the most recent bout I had with anxiety and suicide ideation, but this weekend is also the weekend that I finally told myself it’s time, “You have to go to see a therapist about this, because this isn’t healthy.”
I don’t know why I haven’t ever seen a therapist. I don’t attribute a stigma to taking care of your mental health, but for some reason, stubbornly, I have never gone. Enough is enough, though, I am tired of enduring, because enduring isn’t living.
About the art:
My inspiration for this piece started with the the meditation on the quote "this too shall pass". The story rumored to be behind the quote was that a king set out a challenge for someone to come up with a single sentence that would make him sad when happy and happy when sad. This relates to the two sides of anxiety. Anxiety never completely goes away. Even behind the most joyful of moods, it's there. Likewise, on the worst days, it's comforting to know that eventually it will fade away.
The blue/green koi fish represent joy and perseverance while the orange koi fish represents anxiety. Each of them are an aspect of this survivor and all are in a constant circular motion. At times, anxiety seems to be all-consuming, but like the quote, it will pass and joy will come around again.
While this painting was inspired by the quote, it is not the one I chose for the painting. The quote I chose, I chose because I wanted to include an uplifting message for is survivor. Anxiety is tough. It's even tougher when you're harsh on yourself. I'm really grateful that this survivor shared her story and I hope she enjoys her new artwork.