“I am not my thoughts”

“I am not my thoughts.”

“Will they remember me? If it ended now? If I took my own life?”

Those words have haunted me ever since they consumed my mind during that night—that night when I was trapped on a crumbling ledge with a fall into the abyss before me, a cliff behind me, and a gnawing urge to jump and end it all.

Nobody ever deserves to be on that crumbling ledge.

When I was younger, I was the “fat kid,” “teacher’s pet,” “Asian” (and other epithets), and much worse. I was bullied both physically and emotionally. And even though people may say, “get over it,” the torment sticks, especially during those formative years. For me, my struggle has been trying to control the negative thoughts indicative of a lack of self-esteem.

First was suppression. I never told anybody, not even my parents. I denied anything was wrong, even though it was tearing me apart inside. Later in high school, I became actively involved in student government and was a student advocate fighting against massive budget cuts. My peers may have looked up to me as a leader—and it is true that to this day, I am passionate about educational equity and opportunity for all students—but they did not know that I was suppressing my deeper thoughts. Furthermore, I went from being bullied to being esteemed. And this new position felt good—too good. My self-esteem went through the roof, and with it went my ego. I became too serious and detached, and did not allow myself to connect with my peers. I was sometimes disrespectful to my peers and would seclude myself—partly because I felt too self-important, but more so because it was my mask against what I feared. I formed the connection that “being super serious” equaled “respect.”

My self-esteem tanked when I graduated and the titles were gone, and in college, I struggled with the new social dynamics while I still held on to my mask. I was still suppressing.

Next came explosion. In the spring of my freshman year, I ran for a student government seat but did not connect with my peers when campaigning. I won a position—by three votes. At first, I was happy—I won! But this vote count triggered everything I had suppressed for so many years. My thoughts exploded, and in a matter of minutes, I spiraled and hit rock bottom.

“Will they remember me? If it ended now? If I took my own life?”

It is unbearable to hear your mother and father both crying on the phone as you fight through your own cries for help. But after 5 hours on the phone, my parents brought me back from the brink. I did not jump.

Here I am.

Now is the recovery.

Personally, although I sometimes feel like I can’t, I am working to meet new peers and make new friends. Although it is challenging, I am chiseling away from my mask day-in-day-out. The journey has involved counseling, many tears, and more than one slump. But I persevere and show myself that I can and will move forward. I have been heading on a much better path.

“I am not my thoughts.” Those negative thoughts still haunt me, but I will not let them control me.