I eat meals with my friends as often as possible. I go to group therapy. I text my mom and friends daily. I’m even accepted into a new student service learning program for my sophomore year.
But I’m having suicidal ideations. I’m not going to hurt myself, but the thoughts are always there. I’m getting migraines. I’m skipping classes because if I leave my bed, I might fade away into nothing, and no one will ever know I existed.
On my first day of Spring Break, I see my psychiatrist. We talk about how I’ve been doing. He decides I need to medically withdraw from school for at least two weeks to start, possibly the rest of the semester. I do not take it well. I begin hyperventilating and crying for the rest of our session while he and my mom talk about logistics.
Two weeks later, wrapped up in my parents’ arms, I decide that I will medically withdraw for the remainder of the semester.
The scary thing about this month is that most of my memory is missing from it. I’m the girl who can remember exactly what she’s wearing on any given day, what she’s thinking, who or what she’s mad at.
I remember almost nothing from March.
Mike and Jose are both home from college. They have been best friends since they were 12, and they now take me everywhere with them. We eat pizza on the weekends and fast food on Tuesdays. It’s unhealthy, but it gives me a routine.
I start seeing my therapist again. She is infinitely better than the group therapy I received at VCU. She reaffirms that I can mourn the lost opportunities, and be sad. But she tells me that my path is different from my peers’, it always has been, and while it’ll be challenging, it can still be great.
My friends start coming home from college.
We make hazy decisions fueled by Coke Zero. I discover that I like lying on the floor and singing Lana Del Ray songs when I’m not all together.
I was never a normal teenager–I never rebelled in high school, I never broke rules. So I do break a couple of rules now with the safety of friends who look out for me and make sure I don’t do anything I’ll regret.
I’m having fun.
It’s my first day at Apple.
We have classroom training, shadowing, and then we’re on our own on the sales floor.
Getting this job is my proudest accomplishment–someone in my training class tells me it’s harder to get a job at Apple than it is to get into Stanford. I don’t care if it’s true–it makes me feel more confident than I have felt in years.
The job is difficult. And scary.
And I love it.
Tori and I are shopping for clothes for her to take back to JMU. I see my childhood friend Allie and her little sister shopping for shoes. I immediately turn around and hide behind a flip-flop display. Allie can’t know I’m here. I can’t talk to her. She can’t know I dropped out of school. She’ll tell the rest of them.
She and the others stopped talking to me when I moved back to Virginia. Although, maybe I was the one to stop talking to them. Maybe it was no one’s fault. Maybe we were 13, and I was suffering from the burden of a depression too heavy for any child to bear, not to mention the anxiety, and nothing could have saved our friendships.
Tori and I try on clothes and Allie and her sister are in the dressing room next to us. I force Tori to hide with me. I don’t think Allie remembers the sound of my voice. We’ve known each other since we were five, but that’s irrelevant now.
This is the last time I ever see her, or the rest of them.