Guest Column: A Mental Health Reality
Hi, I’m Machaela Mohrlang and I’m here to tell you my story. Not just the sunshine and rainbows, the deep stuff. Okay, ew. No one wants to talk about meaningful things, and that’s the problem. No one wants to talk about how Brighton High School lost a shining soul the other day because he was too sad to live. No one wants to talk about suicide or depression, because it’s uncomfortable, but guess what? The more things like this are talked about, the more comfortable they will become. So, let me reintroduce myself. Hi, I’m Machaela Mohrlang and I’ve attempted suicide two times. I haven’t really told anyone this, so doing this is a different thing for me, but I’d rather spill my personal life than see another person leave this earth. Granted, I’m doing better now, but the only reason why I’m here today is because I got help… real help, not just a pat on the back from another person saying that “it’ll be okay” or “things will get better”. Hearing these phrases helped me for about 30 seconds max, but after those 30 seconds, I would go back to the exact same mental state I was in.
I struggled with, and still struggle with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and ADHD. However, before my first suicide attempt I didn’t know what they were, so I was confused about what was happening to me. I went from being a straight A student, to almost failing or failing classes. I didn’t want to hang out with friends, and it took forever to get out of bed in the morning. I looked at myself and would fixate on the things I hated about myself so much until there was nothing left to love. I would walk into school and feel nervous… I couldn’t breathe, eat or talk to people. I would get flashbacks about something that happened to me. On top of that, I couldn’t focus. In reality, none of these feelings were my fault, but day in and day out I would blame myself for everything. I got to the point that I would beat myself up about every single thing I did wrong- no matter how big or small it was. As the missing assignments stacked up, so did my anxiety about school. I got into a vicious cycle of being too lazy to complete schoolwork, but then self-hating because I didn’t do the work. Eventually, I felt the need to self harm, because my emotional pain was so great, only physical pain could distract me from it.
On October 29th 2016, I attempted suicide for the first time.
I don’t remember much of that day, but I remember how I felt. I remember feeling exhausted. I remember feeling so deprived of happiness, but most of all I remember feeling like there wasn’t any light at the end of the tunnel, or that I didn’t deserve any light at the end of the tunnel. Back then, suicide was a way out of what I was going through. Back then, I saw suicide as a death. But now? I reflect on the gravity of what I tried to do. Now I see suicide as a parent who can’t go into their son’s or daughter’s room because they miss them too much. I see a parent calling their child’s name to come down for dinner, but getting no response because they, just for a second, forgot that their sweet little girl or boy is gone. I see a teacher scanning a room, looking for a particular face, in a particular desk, but never being able to find it. No matter how many times the teacher fills that desk that the student sat at, it will always be empty because no one is the same person as that student. No one has the same smile, hair, voice as the person who died. I see suicide as a friend looking around for their dead friend’s face after something funny is said, but there being no face to look at. I think about the pain everyone faces just by one death. I can tell you, that if anyone in this room, in this world, died, there would be many, many people who would react the same exact way as I have mentioned.
So what I am trying to say is, please, if you need it, get help, because, although it took me forever to realize this, I didn’t want to die, I just wanted the pain to end. I know that the phrase “it’ll be okay” is hard to believe when everything is the exact opposite of okay, but the only reason why I am here today is because I asked for help.
As it turns out, all I needed was a shoulder to cry on… a doctor to get me on the right medications for my depression, anxiety, and ADHD… and last but not least, I needed to not feel alone. I can not stress enough to you how “okay” it is to struggle a little bit, or maybe even a lot. It’s okay to take four hours to get out of bed. It’s okay to go home and instantly take a nap. It’s okay to need someone. It’s okay to fall behind a little bit. It’s okay if doing your best in school means turning everything late. It’s okay not to be perfect. I’ve failed classes, I’ve had weeks, if not months, where I literally didn’t do any schoolwork. But I took everything one second at a time. I took everything one assignment at a time. I took everything one step at a time; and I can’t stress to you enough how okay that is. Just accept where you are at emotionally, physically, and you can start to get better. Even if better means crying a little less everyday, give yourself credit for that. The little things matter.
I’m sure that everyone here would rather help another person out, even someone they hate, than see another kind soul take their own life.
I know that everyone has heard this a million times, but be that person that smiles at someone in the hallway, or says hello. When I was going through that rough time in my life, posters in the hallway didn’t really help me, but feeling wanted on this earth did. Feeling like other people cared about me helped me learn to love myself.
We can fight this together. No one wants to see another person missing on this earth, so everyone needs to do their part. Be kind to everyone, and make everyone feel welcomed, because eventually things that we are uncomfortable with get comfortable after a little bit of practice.