CHAPTER FOURTEEN: IT’S OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY

Trigger warning: This chapter deals with self harm, suicidal thoughts, and sexual assault. If this is something you are struggling with, we recommend skipping this chapter. If you need help please contact 13 11 14

Sometimes you just need to admit when you need help. I’ve always struggled with this. Whenever I would go through something I would just sweep it under the rug, chase a temporary high, and think I’ve moved on. But eventually that would all catch up to me, and it did.

I never properly dealt with anything. From my break up with Nathan, to breaking my leg, bullying, coming out, an incident with my dad, and all the little moments that made me feel like I was damaged goods. I had a pretty busy lifestyle that allowed me to run away from my problems easily and distract myself, which was great, but it was bound to become all too much at some point. I worked full time to pay the bills, I ran my website full time to constantly grow it, I was working on a book, and started stand up comedy. So my time was constantly occupied. On top of this I had a pretty hectic social schedule with events, and was also trying to date someone. So to say my mind was preoccupied was the understatement of the year. Whilst my time with Liam started off harmless, I began to realise I had a lot of unresolved issues that were affecting my future. I had really bad trust issues, which made me question every one of Liam’s intentions. I didn’t feel like I had strong friendships around me, so I started to rely on Liam for everything, overwhelming him with my emotions, this started a very bad downward spiral. I felt like I was baring my all to him and wasn't receiving anything back. I felt like all my effort was going unnoticed or uncared for, and I began to over analyse everything. 

I would lay in my bed every night breaking down every aspect of my past relationships, and why they hadn’t worked out. I couldn’t figure out why these people, who I cared about so much, had been able to throw me away so easily. I just kept asking myself why wasn’t I good enough for them? Why no one wanted to be there for me or be my end game? Why I always seemed to push everyone away with everything I did? I knew I was an over the top personality and that sometimes I could come across as too in your face, but I wanted to believe that I was loveable. After Nathan, Liam, and every guy I had ever met, I started to believe that maybe I wasn’t. Maybe I wasn't meant to fall in love in this lifetime and have a typical “happily ever after”. Maybe instead I was just meant to have this crazy lifestyle full of temporary highs. I kept telling myself that not everyone is able to experience the things that I have and that I had to be grateful for those moments. But then I would think about how hard I work, how exhausted I got, and how all I really wanted was to have someone to share those moments with. I began to feel a little disheartened because everyone around me seemed to be in happy relationships, travelling with their loved ones, getting engaged or married, having kids, moving in together. And there I was, alone and confused as to why.

Guys I would speak to would get into relationships and message me every now and then to check up on me. I wasn't sure if they were just trying to keep the fantasy alive, reminisce about the past, or just make sure that they were better off. But it started to hurt. They would say things like “you’re too cute to be in a relationship” or “you’re more fun when you’re single”, and it made me feel like I really wasn't meant to be in love. I started to become jealous and spiteful, because who did these guys think they were? They didn't know the real me. I had more to offer, I just struggled to open up to people. But I’d conditioned myself to believe that I wasn't enough for anyone and that I didn’t deserve to be in a relationship, and that’s damaging because everyone deserves to feel loved. So much of the excitement in life is about falling in love and finding your soul mate to have ride or die experiences with. To find someone to push your boundaries and help you grow and become a better person. And I wanted that. When I met Liam I was so cynical, I’d given up on ever finding that, but something with him just clicked and I believed again. 

Half way through our relationship I started going to a therapist to try to come to terms with my dark thoughts. As I sat there in the therapist’s office, I tried to express my feelings but I left every session feeling a little more conflicted and confused. I wanted to leave feeling lighter and that just wasn’t the experience I was having. So I finally decided to try medication, which was something I’d always said no to. But the doctor put me on a very low dosage, which just made my thoughts get even darker and more confusing. At first my mindset switched and I started to believe in myself again. I was inspired, not only creatively, but also to better myself. But that all came crumbling down when our break up neared. My walls went back up, my thoughts became dark, and I started questioning why this always happened to me. Why did I get a taste of something perfect only to have it taken away? Why was I never allowed to be happy? Why did all these negative things keep happening to me? I felt like I’d truly pissed off the big guy up stairs, he just kept trying to test me and watch me break more and more. I always tried to find the positive in every situation, and focus on that to get me through, but I started to find it really hard to think of one. I also tried to be grateful that these bad things were happening to me, rather than my family or friends, because I knew I was strong enough to get through it. But I was starting to feel weak and couldn’t take comfort in that idea anymore. I was at breaking point, I was inconsolable. Why me? Why me? Why me? I kept asking myself. How did I keep getting into these situations? Was it all my fault? I can remember sitting on the floor of my shower, in one of my lower moments, hysterically crying so the sound of the water would drown me out so my housemates couldn't hear. I had officially lost my drive to fight.

The main trigger began with Liam. It’s important to note that he isn't the reason for my breakdown completely, but our relationship breakdown pushed me over the edge. I fell in love with him and all I wanted was for him to fall in love with me, but he couldn’t. Instead I was stuck in the cliche unrequited love situation. And that for anyone is a dangerous and heartbreaking situation. I don’t think anyone who hasn’t been in that situation themselves can truly understand how soul crushing it is.

After our break up we kept going back and forth on trying to be friends. We were still acting like a couple which was confusing, and gave me hope that it would eventually turn into something more again. After all, I believed in us and our connection. I believed that I wasn't the only one that felt that. And with our friendship strengthening I couldn't imagine it disappearing completely. But it was harder than it seemed. We would constantly fight about our expectations from each other and be in an awkward in between of trying to figure out how to act. I would still do cute things for him and he was reciprocate. He eventually told me that he loved me, which played with my mind because I thought that meant he finally wanted to give us a proper go. But he didn’t. It was really hard to hear about him and other guys hooking up, because I couldn't help but wish that it was me. I became super jealous. And that rapidly increased our decline. I no longer knew how to be normal around him. I was just upset, angry, and frustrated all the time.

One night I finally snapped. I was over waking up feeling depressed and upset and having to fake my happiness. My medication wasn't helping and was just making me feel more depressed than usual. I was over seeing him act like he was okay and that he wasn't bothered by our situation. I was over not being okay and not being able to change how I felt. So we fought again for the hundredth time which ended in me running out of the house. I was yelling and screaming at him and everything felt blurry to me. Everything rotated around me like I was stuck in a slow motion movie.

Liam followed me and I ran out of the house and I ran straight in front of a car. It barely missed me and I kept going. I ended up in the city, sitting on the edge of a bridge by myself, just staring at the water and pondering if I could finally go through with it. Liam kept calling me and I kept ignoring his calls. I had to make this decision for myself. Was I really going to do this? I was so unhappy and it felt like there was no longer any light in my life. I had officially felt lifeless. I thought about everything I’d achieved in my life and the experiences I had endured and I smiled. I was lucky. I worked hard and had a great life. But there was a lot of pain there and a lot of unanswered questions that burned. I tried to call Nathan and he didn’t answer. If I was really going to end it all I just wanted to know why he left me because I still didn’t believe his piss poor excuse. I knew I deserved more. I finally answered Liam’s call. He kept trying to talk me down but I just wanted the pain to stop 

I was in such a state of mental exhaustion that I wasn't making sense. I couldn't stop crying or shaking, and I no longer knew what to say or do. So he convinced me to come back to his and try to make sense of how I felt. But after hours of talking I gave in to the fact that I wasn’t going to feel better and hopped in an Uber home because he promised to see me the next day to talk things through and make sure I was okay. But I had a feeling he was just saying that to get me to go home. And I was right. 

The next day he bailed on seeing me and lacked empathy. It just triggered my emotions so much. I felt like he didn't actually care and just wanted to get himself out of the situation. And I allowed my inner demons to take over. I was no longer in a sane state of mind and mentally I was back sitting on the bridge the night before. I was staring at my medication next to my bed and I decided to overdose because I no longer wanted the pain. I was done. Officially.

As I laid there emotionless, I said goodbye to Liam and to Devon and Ashlyn. I didn't even know how I should be feeling in that moment but I was at peace with my decision. I wanted to be the bigger person and keep fighting, but I just couldn't. My memory of that day is a little blurry but I remember feeling so certain of my decision

The next thing I remember is the ambulance arriving at my house and banging on my door. My housemate was worried about me, they’d came to check on me and noticed that I wasn't right so they called emergency services.

I laid there in my hospital bed and felt mixed emotions about still being alive. I was done with the pain but I was also embarrassed that I’d allowed myself to get that low. I was met by a doctor and a mental health nurse who sat down with me to talk about my feelings. In that moment I realised that I really wasn't okay and there was no turning back. I began sobbing as I explained why I felt the way I did, and I told my story from the start. The mental health nurse sat there in tears and comforted me whilst I said some of the things out loud for the first time. There was a weight lifted off my shoulders and I started to feel lighter. 

Once I was ready to return home, I tried calling Liam to come get me but he wouldn't answer and I didn't know who else to turn to. I was so embarrassed and didn’t want to explain everything to anyone including my family because I knew how worried they would be.

My housemate ended up coming to pick me up and I went home in shock and emotionally drained. I went to work the day after being discharged feeling numb and tried to pretend nothing had happened, but I knew everything had changed. Over that weekend I’d tried to commit suicide three times and it was a shock to my system. I was grateful that I didn't succeed because I knew that I deserved more, but deep down a little bit of me just wished it was all over. I felt embarrassed. I couldn't tell my family, I couldn't tell my work, and I didn't want to tell my friends. I had to pretend it didn't happen because I didn't want to discuss it with everyone and have them treat me differently. But the worst thing was that I couldn't talk to Liam about it, because he didn't want anything to do with me. He couldn't emotionally take what I tried to do and had to process it in his own time, which I understood but I also needed my best friend. I was alone more than ever before and I now had a deep and dark secret that confirmed to me that I needed to keep fighting. But how are you meant to keep fighting alone? 

I started to re-evaluate my relationships and friendships and realised that I’d pushed a lot of people away after Liam came into my life. I also realised that I didn't really talk about my feelings and mostly kept things quiet. So I decided to make more of an effort to involve myself in things and reach out to people, because I wasn't really alone. I threw myself in the deep end with my feelings. And although it felt so emotionally raw and uncomfortable, it was what I needed to do. Over time I started to recognise a growth. I was starting to feel a lot more confident and happy but I missed Liam so much. My heart ached thinking about him so I continually tried to reach out to him. He always said no to meeting up, but said that he would let me know when he was ready to see me, because he also wanted to maintain our friendship. So I held onto that, because that’s all I wanted. I wanted my best friend back. I wanted my soul mate back, even if that meant only as friends. And I wanted to feel the way I did when I was with him again.

It’d been a couple of months and I was still very much missing him. But part of me felt like it wasn't the end and that one day our story would continue. With Christmas approaching I couldn't stop thinking about him and wishing we were still together. So I bought him a little present and was debating when to give it to him. I was trying to decide if it was the right thing to do. In retrospect, probably not, but it felt right to me. One morning I woke up and found out some news that broke my heart in two. Liam had started seeing someone that I knew. Someone that I had seen in the past. I immediately ran to my bathroom and vomited in the toilet. I felt sick and upset and I couldn't explain it. I knew I couldn't be mad about it but I couldn't help feeling the way I did. After all, the whole reason we weren't together was because he didn't want a relationship, and now he was seeing someone else. I reached out to him and asked to meet him after he finished work to give him his Christmas present and talk in person. And he agreed. 

As we stood there awkwardly catching up, I decided to address the elephant in the room. “So are you seeing someone at the moment?” I asked. Looking around a little confused, he ambiguously answered that he had been seeing some people. But I wasn't letting him get away with that answer. “Yeah, but is there someone…?”. He looked at me a little ashamed. “Yeah, there is. And I think you know who it is judging by that question” he confessed. “Yeah, I do” I admitted as a tear fell down my cheek. He explained to me that after our breakup he realised he needed to be more open to everything and not be so afraid of his own feelings. So now he was open to the idea of a relationship, just not with me. My heart broke hearing that sentence but I sat there and took the conversation head on. After all, I asked the question so I needed to face the answers. When I got home I felt sick to my stomach, and my head was clouded with angry, dark thoughts. Like why didn't he want to have a relationship with me, after everything we've been through. And why did someone else deserve that happiness that I knew I deserved. I knew I was being selfish, but I was emotionally exhausted. I spent a whole year falling in love with someone and having them become a massive part of my world, only to be told that I wasn't who they wanted in their life. As I laid there I realised there was nothing I could do and if he didn't want to be with me then it was his loss. I knew I’d tried everything. I did everything I could to be friends with him and be in his life, and if he didn't want to put the effort in that would be on him. I’m not going to pretend it didn't hurt, because it did, but that’s life and heartbreak. And I wasn't alone in that feeling.

But the highs and lows continued to happen. Some days I would be happy and content with the direction I was heading towards. And some days I would wake up heartbroken. I found myself returning to my cycle of casual sex and spending a lot of time alone. I put on a brave face to people around me and acted like I was fine, but inside I was still hurting. I didn't love who I was, and I let people treat me the way they wanted to and if that was just to use me for sex then that was okay with me.

One night I was feeling really lonely and just wanted company. I had been speaking to a guy for over a month and messaged him asking if he wanted to come over and watch a movie. He agreed and immediately told me he wasn't looking for a hook up and just wanted to spend time with me. I was relieved as I didn't really feel like going down that route and just wanted some genuine human connection. But when he came over it was obvious his intentions were very different to what he’d said. 

He threw me onto my bed and started making out with me. I went along with it because I’d been conditioned to feel like that’s all I was good for. But as things further escalated I decided that it really wasn't what I wanted. I already felt shitty about myself and asked him to stop. He didn’t. He entered me without protection and when I asked him to stop again he just looked at me and held my body down. I laid there powerless as he continued. I finally found my voice and begged him to stop. “Please!” I pleaded and he finally stopped and just laid down next to me. I didn't know what to say or do. I just looked at him scared and confused. He finally left after I burst into tears and realised I was traumatised and what he did was wrong. 

I decided to not take any legal action because I was afraid of being slut shamed. I was afraid of people telling me that it was my fault, because deep down even I thought that. “Was it even sexual assault?” I asked myself. “Did I deserve to feel this way?”. Looking back on it now I feel shocked that I even questioned myself. I didn't deserve to feel that way and it was in fact sexual assault. I asked him to stop multiple times and he didn’t. No one should ever feel powerless in any situation and definitely not when it comes to your own body. I grieved the situation and learnt to take ownership of my body again, but I felt a little different.

“I'm damaged goods” I kept telling myself. “No one is going to love me anymore if they hear what I’ve been through”. I was so afraid of being accepted by others, and it scared me that I thought so darkly about myself. I had to make peace with who I was, embrace all the negatives and turn it into a positive, because I was officially stuck. But when I started to piece all of the important bits together I noticed an important similarity. That’s when I realised, we are all damaged goods. We are all human.