when your recovery goes to second grade

I remember pretty much everything about October 25th, 2011.

I remember being called out of class during 3rd period band. I remember spending over an hour sitting across from my school guidance counselor – picking at the Band-Aids on my wrist. I remember leaving her office for a period while she called my mom – not knowing what to tell my classmates who asked why I had missed the last class. I remember my volleyball game after school. I remember watching my mom walk into the gym – knowing she knew. But more than anything I remember being scared. Scared because self-harm was no longer a secret. Scared because I knew there were a lot of conversations I had been avoiding ahead. Scared because I didn’t know where we would go from here.

I remember after the game too. I remember going home and going straight to my room. And then I remember my mom following me upstairs. I remember peeling the Band-Aids away. And I remember her kissing my wrists. And we went from there.

And today it is 7 years later. And if my recovery was a kid it would be a second grader.

And this is a little bit of a weird anniversary, but it feels important.

7 years is a third of my life and when I think about so much that has happened over the past 7 years, so much wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for this day in 8th grade.

I think about 8th grade me, putting “self-harm” anonymously on a list of topics I wish we had discussed more in health at the end of the year. And I think about how ashamed I was when it was met by confusion and dismissed immediately when it was read aloud.

I think about senior year of high school when I first shared any of this out loud to my classmates on the PEERS retreat.

I think about Thanksgiving break 2016 when I got “pedal fast” tattooed on the outside of my left wrist. A wrist that once knew razor blades and now knows hope and healing.

I think about late January of my freshman year at Colgate. When I published an article sharing the meaning behind that tattoo. An article that has thousands of views. An article that changed my whole world.

I think about that February. When I launched this blog and all the mental health posts that have surfaced on here over the past two years.

I think about Heart Camp. I think about flying alone to Florida – boarding a plane to spend three days with strangers. And I think about strangers that quickly turned to family.

I think about this past summer. When I sat down with friends and recorded Don’t Tell Them I’m Crazy – a podcast dedicated to storytelling and the de-stigmatization of mental health and mental illness.

And I think about quieter moments. I think about car rides with my mom to volleyball practice in eighth grade. And I think about my dad sitting at the edge of my bed. I think about slowly becoming more comfortable asking for help.

I think about how it hasn’t always been easy. How 7 years of recovery doesn’t mean 7 years of no self-harm. I think about how not only has it not been easy but at times it has been really hard.

But I also think about how it’s worth it.

It is so worth it.

And so today kind of feels like a bizarre anniversary. But it feels important. It feels important to celebrate asking for help. It feels important to say all this out loud.