I was 15 years old, and my life was over.
It was the middle of the night, and I had swallowed as many pills as I could find in the house. Dozens? Hundreds? I wasn’t counting.
I just wanted all the hurting to stop.
School was a nightmare for me, and bullies taunted me for years about my weight, clothes, social awkwardness, you name it. I was also struggling with my bisexuality and felt like I didn’t fit in with my straight or gay friends.
I was alone.
After not doing homework for months, I was failing 5 classes and was told I would have to repeat my freshman year. But the worst part of my life was outside of school. My family was the biggest reason I didn’t want to live anymore.
My parents never wanted kids but were pressured to do so. It was devastating to not feel loved and to have my parents ignore me in our home but act completely different whenever we were in public. My older brother had behavioral problems and was kicked out of school for punching a teacher. He beat me constantly, but there was no one to protect me.
I was alone.
On my dresser was my suicide note. I don’t recall what I wrote, but I remember addressing it “To whom it may concern.” Who would read it anyway?
I was alone.
And as an atheist, I knew just how alone I really was.
The room was spinning, and it felt like all my energy had spilled out through my tears. I crumbled onto my bed, and an invisible weight pressed down on my body.
There was nothing left of me. Just a shell. But I could finally rest.
I was so tired…
I opened my eyes. There was someone in the room with me.
I felt a distinct presence, but I saw nothing but darkness.
A voice was talking to me, and I realized with dismay that it was coming from inside my head. I was hearing voices!
It wasn’t enough that I was hopelessly depressed, but now I got to experience insanity right before I died. I smashed my face into a pillow.
The voice was becoming urgent. And I had the strangest feeling that I knew who it was. But I was so tired…my head was foggy…
“Get up. Get up. Get up. Get up. GET UP!”
Holy shit—it was me!
Here’s the part where it gets really weird, and I don’t care if you believe me or not.
It was me, me, me! But it was a part of me that existed in the future.
There was a tiny speck inside me that knew the future could be different, that I could be different. She knew that I wouldn’t always be hurting. She knew that I would find people who love me. She knew I could be happy.
I wasn’t alone.
I threw my legs over the side of the bed and stood up. It was the hardest thing I had ever done in my life. But I had someone helping me.
“You HAVE to call an ambulance!”
The rest of the night is a blur. I remember the ambulance lights, my screaming mother, vomiting for what seemed like hours, and waking up in a facility for mentally disturbed children.
“Future me” was there the whole time. I felt her watching me while I slept and sitting next to me on the couch while counselors interviewed me.
No matter what was happening, she quietly reassured me that it would all be different someday. I held onto that hope with all the strength inside me.
And she never left me even in the days, months, and years that followed.
I felt her hand on my shoulder while my father screamed in my face telling me over and over how selfish I was and I how I had embarrassed him.
She pulled me away from the ledge when I daydreamed about jumping off the third floor balcony in my high school’s atrium.
In college, she distracted me with thoughts about my future life and made me miss the train I was going to throw myself in front of.
I saw her reflection in the plane window when I finally broke away from my abusers and escaped on a flight across the country at 2:00 in the morning.
And a few months later at the courthouse, she steadied my hand as I signed my new name for the first time.
I could hear her cheering me on as I quit my job. And the next one. And the next one.
Since that night I tried to kill myself, I have never been alone.
It’s been nearly 20 years, and I don’t feel suicidal anymore. Future me is still here, but I often don’t know where she stops and I begin.
Sometimes I catch her voice coming out of my mouth when I comfort a friend or advise one of my clients. I see her smiling face in the photos on my website. I’m thankful every day that she made me get up.
I don’t feel separate from my future self anymore. I am her, and I don’t need a degree or fancy credentials to help save someone. I already saved myself.
I’m telling you my story because I know how horrible it is to feel alone, like there is no one in the world who loves you.
I’m telling you this because if you’re feeling hopeless and powerless I want you to know that there is a stronger version of yourself in the future who wants you to keep going.
It’s OK if you can’t hear her. I don’t want you to go to that dark place before you get help because not everyone comes back. I was lucky.
So if you’re feeling like you just can’t do it alone anymore, I want you to know you’re not alone.
I’m here. I see you. I love you.