I have something important to say:

I have spent a month writing, trying to figure out something good to say here. Something gorgeous, with a structure, with a point. I don’t know if that is something I can give today, but either way, thanks for coming.

Anyway, I need to tell you something. Not the internet, not some weird void, not the wordpress statistics. You. I need to tell you something.

Imagine you and I are sitting in my car, wherever you and I have probably sat down in my car. The Moody parking garage, the beach at Seaside, or on a snowy street in West Grand Rapids–you pick. It’s evening, and we have great tea.

I need to tell you something. When I say it, you are going to worry, but–

(this is the part where I put my hand on your shoulder and look at you.)

–I am okay.

A month and four days ago, I was hospitalized for a suicide attempt.

I just sat at my desk for like, fifteen whole minutes trying to figure out what to say next.

It was the longest April 11th of my life. I spent a solid fourteen hours in the ER, but I’m really lucky because Lara came as soon as the ambulance dropped me off. Lara and I sat there so long the night people left and there was a whole new staff. We sat there for so long that a patient got discharged and admitted again the next morning.

Honestly, I 100% thought I could charm my way out of getting admitted to an inpatient ward. I would just be my honest, sane self.

Turns out though, that honest and sane people still get admitted if they tried to kill themselves.

I was in the hospital for a week. My experience was, surprisingly wonderful. I don’t think I had ever felt so taken care of by other human beings. For the first time in ages I found sleep, routine, and rest.

I wish I could tell you every story. I wish I could tell you all about my sweet nurse, who cared for me so well that I often wondered if she had anyone to take care of her. She sat me down one day and told that lots of kids from Moody who were a lot like me come through the ward. Or about the weekend social worker who came into my room and told me that she didn’t need to talk to me long to know that I’d be a good therapist someday. About how the strong connections I saw other patients make with another in order to heal, or how I was roomed with another girl named Madeline at one point and the mental health workers got a huge kick out it during rounds. I wish I could tell you how nice the view of the city was from the thirteenth floor and how great the acoustics in my room were for singing to yourself.

There were hard parts, too. Lots of them. Lots of frustrated tears, wondering how I got so far off without even noticing.

Moody was not a good place for me. I gave it a generous two years’ time, trying to come around. Even still, I spent the majority of my sophomore year wishing I was dead, crossing streets without looking, standing too close to the edge of train platforms–mostly hoping someone else would do it so I didn’t have to.

I felt myself become progressively more and more invisible at Moody Bible Institute. When I was not invisible, I was getting emails: “Heretic.” “Snake.” “Bitch.” Someone even had the guts to call me a slut in person while I was eating a burger in The Commons, but that one mostly makes me laugh.

I was not just depressed. I was exhausted with being considered a sinner in the hands of an angry God. So I checked out, living life from the back seat of my body. Exhausted and invisible, and when visible, harassed, constantly.

As the sickness worstened, I let my friends go. I said things to people I would ordinarily never say. I held people to standards they could not meet. I hurt others. I was forgetful and absent.

As you are sitting in my passenger seat, hearing all of this, I wanted to say that I am so sorry if you were one of the people that I hurt. I mean it. I have not been myself for a very long time, and I am so sorry.

I was so numb that I did not feel how hurt I was by the everything that has happened this year until it was far too late.

Anyway, I’m not telling you this to be a downer. I am telling you this because I would not be alive had I not gotten help. I am telling you this because it was day five of being in a hospital that I started to realize that, not only did I have a future, but I had agency with my future. I am telling you because there is a post in my drafts saying goodbye to all of you that will never get published because I am still here.

And I wanted to say these things while you and I are still here, while there’s still time to say it.

First, and most importantly, I need you to get help if you need it. I need you to know that wanting to die is a common feeling, but it is not one that you can ignore and leave alone, or it will grow taller and bigger than you. Please, please, please get help. See a therapist. Get on that anxiety medication you’ve been thinking about. Leave the place that has been sucking out your soul. You deserve to feel better and to feel fully alive. I want that for you.

Second, I had to let a lot of things go this month. I was advised to drop out of school and move home immediately. If you know me, you know that moving home after being on my own for five years is the most wildly unideal scenario for me. Less than twenty-four hours after I was discharged, I was on the road out west. My job, my friends, my summer plans–gone. Lost to the clutches of my hometown and my childhood bedroom. I would not have let any of that go on my own. It had to be taken, and that is okay.

There might be things that you are holding onto that you think are more important than your own self. They are not. You cannot love anything well or healthily if you do not love and take care of yourself. It will get convoluted every time, I promise.

I remember thinking one night: I have been sad for so long that I do not know what I would do without it. Sometimes our sadness is so familiar that the thought of getting healthy feels like a loss to be grieved. It is easier to hold onto the pain you know than to let it go and experience the pain that is required of healing. I get it. I want to invite you to be brave and let go of these things.

Third, I wanted to let you know that I am doing okay. I was discharged on a Thursday, and spent Friday through Monday driving myself across the country, and it was one of my favorite road trips I have ever taken. I listened to audiobooks and sang to myself and honked along I-80 when I got bored. It was magical, and I wish I could do it again.

While I was hoping to only be in California for the summer, I am realizing that the things I want for my life are worth putting time and effort into. So I’ll be here for a while, reconnecting with friends and enjoying this sweet and rare time to be so close to my family again. Nothing from Moody will transfer (thank you, Intro to Ministry), so I’m starting from scratch at MJC, recovering my GPA and hopefully transferring to a university that will make me sharp and equipped to be an excellent clinician someday.

While I will probably never, ever enjoy the 115 degree heat Modesto has to offer six months out of the year, I am happy to be here and I am excited about my future.

Thank you for reading all of this, truly. Thank you, if you were present in my life over these past four months, especially. You mean the world to me.

You are loved,

Maddie.

P.S.

I have so much time on my hands, and I’ve really been wanting to write letters to people, so if you like writing letters, we should write letters. Hit me up on my contact page and we can be friends.

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6 thoughts on “I have something important to say:

  1. Hey, let’s write letters old friend;) Love and miss you, Mads. Thank you for such a genuine retelling of your life over these last several months: full of real and raw emotions, full of incredibly hard things that led to you thinking it wasn’t worth. I’m so sorry. But thank you for sharing this.

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  2. This is so raw and tender. Thank you. I’d love to get a letter from you! Happy you are alive, by the way. Jesus loves you-even if that’s the last thing you want to hear. Write me(:

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  3. Dearest Maddie, You are one brave and gutsy young woman…. it might not feel like it totally yet but it is so you! You are very loved and admired and can hardly wait to see what the future unfolds for you. So thankful for you sharing this… Darlene Olson

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  4. Hi Maddie,
    I’m not sure if we ever met in person while you were here, but I stumbled across your post on my fb feed and thought I’d give it a read.
    I’m so glad I did.
    I especially resonated with your line, “Sometimes our sadness is so familiar that the thought of getting healthy feels like a loss to be grieved.”
    I tried to kill myself in the middle of my sophomore year too. I survived. I took a semester off and almost didn’t come back. For me, this place ended up healing as much as it had been a place of hurt. I’m so sorry this school cannot be a good thing for you, but I pray that your next residence will offer some much needed solace. Seems like you’re well on your way.
    Godspeed.

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  5. My dear friend and sister, thank you for your honesty and beautifully written words. My heart aches again for you in the re-telling of the pain. I felt connected to your story through your writing. Word crafting is a gift you have, and I’m so glad you shared it publicly. I pray you have found continued healing through the process. How beautiful too that May is mental health awareness month. People need to hear this story. Sending love from Iowa, Hol

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