Dancing With the Thought of Death

My daily struggle with wanting to live, but also wanting to die

Dancing With the Thought of Death

Hi, my name is Andy, and I am having suicidal thoughts. No, don’t worry, I’m not suicidal.

My whole life, I’ve always had this weird feeling. It feels like a knot in my stomach, which causes me to have nausea at all times and anxiety that is through the roof.

It all started when I was in third grade. I watched all of my friends interacting with each other, playing on the swing set in the caged off part of the school during our breaks and laughing at the long lunch tables. I hated it, though. No one ever talked to me. Classmates of mine made it very clear that they didn’t want to be my friend because of my weight and height. I remember a specific incident like it was yesterday: it was fourth grade and I wanted to sing a duet for the talent show, but my friend decided she didn’t want to sing with me anymore because I was too fat and that she would be embarrassed if she were to be seen singing with me. Ouch. I definitely remember how much it hurt hearing that.

My anxiety got to the point where I would call my mom at work at least once a week and beg between my sobs and runny nose for her to just come pick me up. My excuse was mostly some sort of pain — stomach aches were my favorite. Countless trips to the doctor concluded that I was just “stressed.” But let’s be honest, though: what kid is this stressed at 9 years old?

Because of everything I was going through, I decided that I wanted to leave that middle school. My parents fully supported me and transferred me to a different school a city over. I felt free, but that feeling didn’t last. Not long after switching schools, I was being bullied again. At that point, I decided to try to not let it get to me, failing miserably. Rumors about me started going around that I was trying planning on committing suicide. Even with that information, people still decided to make fun of me.

I never told my parents, out of fear that they would worry and that things would change. I mean, who wants to have their parents on their back all the time? I definitely did not want to be that person talking to someone on the big cliche couch that we see on tv and telling a stranger, who doesn’t even know me, about all of my problems. At the time, it did seem kind of like a dream, though — not being alive anymore. What would happen if I just disappeared from everyone’s lives? I think I had to be okay with the fact that I was just meant to always feel like shit and pretend that I was okay.

I was able to make it through all of junior high without harming myself. Once I got into high school, though, it all changed.

When I started high school, I started hanging around all of the wrong people. We would drink at parks, go to the mall, and just roam around the streets aimlessly. I think it was at that point that I realized I wasn’t okay anymore. I felt like I was a completely different person. I wasn’t thinking properly. I tried to convince myself that what I was doing was okay and that everything was normal, even though it wasn’t.

It was then when I started to leave scratches on my wrist with safety pins. I would half hope someone would notice them just so they can help me, but I was also hoping that no one would notice. No one wants to be called out and talked about. When I would scratch myself, I felt like I was in control of something, as weird that that sounds. It was as if I had my own secret. The day my sister saw my wrist and scratches I promised her I would stop, but I never kept that promise. Instead of my wrist, I took to my thigh and started leaving them there.

The self harm is still a struggle I face whenever I hit rock bottom. It would be years before I let a safety pin touch my skin, but of course, I sometimes let the worst get the best of me and give into temptation.

The only thing that has ever kept me in a constant sane place is any form of music.

More specifically, musical theatre.

The first professional musical I ever saw was “Wicked” at the Pantages theatre in Hollywood. The way that the stage was lit in a bright green way and the loud music gave me goosebumps before the production had even started. I never knew how much my life would change watching that musical. I mean, a girl that looks different is outcasted while she stands on the outside looking in. No one will ever know how comforting it is to know that someone, even if she’s made up, feels something similar to how I feel and be treated how I was treated.

Ever since then, I continued to listen to and watch all types of musical theatre. There’s something about how the actor portrays a character in a musical that makes me feel like I’m also dancing through life the same way. I sometimes pretend to be someone I’m not in front of an audience of family and peers.

“Dear Evan Hansen” also meant a lot to me when I saw it at the Music Box in New York. Evan Hansen is a socially awkward (me) kid that doesn’t have many friends (hello, also me) and has attempted suicide. Just listening to the soundtrack still gives me butterflies in my stomach. The music made me feel like I wasn’t alone and that people will always be there to lift you up. The end of the musical left me in tears and somehow in a state of comfort, knowing that I will be okay.

As I grow older, I know that I will continue to struggle with my demons and battle with my emotions and mental illnesses. But one thing I finally began to understand is how important I am. Regardless of how I’m feeling, I know that I’m a lot more than my anxiety and depression.