Hidden Faces: Jane’s story – a road to recovery

*This story describes depression and suicide in detail throughout the story, including methods by which Jane (for privacy and safety purposes we have disguised her name) has attempted. For those who might be upset by these, please exist the article.

At 10 p.m., Jane swallowed enough Lexapro to kill someone over twice her weight. She waited in her pitch-black room, where time stood still, minute by precious minute ticked away as the pills dissolved in her stomach. Until she told her parents, then everything began to accelerate.

Her mom was in the shower, so Jane told her dad. It was the first time she ever saw him cry. Her face matched his as they pumped her stomach.

Jane has been struggling with mental health since she was 5. Bullying followed her everywhere and was the predominant cause of her first suicide attempt in 5th grade. She tried to hang herself, but she didn’t weigh enough. When Jane turned 14, she was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder.

Her second attempt started with a conversation with a friend. They talked for hours that night about mundane things: homework, school, etc., until her friend causally suggested a double suicide.

Jane’s life was not going great at the time. Acclimating to freshman year was exhausting for her. She felt like no one cared. She felt like she was useless. 

At first, when her friend suggested they kill themselves, Jane shot down the idea. But her friend kept pushing for it, alluding to why Jane should end her life. As Jane said, “romanticizing suicide.”

Jane finally buckled under the pressure of her closest friend.

“I just gave up,” she said. “I had been fighting mental illness since I was 5 or 7, and it gets so tiring. My therapist at the time was not a good fit for me. I was trying everything, and nothing was working. So, I was like, ‘what’s the point.’ That’s when I took the meds.”

Jane, now 17 and a senior, often hides her experience from others. 

“I’m good at putting on a mask,” Jane said. “It makes me look loud, extroverted. Just powerful. Around others, I show this mask of confidence, but it’s just so tiring.”

But the walls she builds up break down when talking to her mom.

“She has been a beacon of hope for me,” Jane said. “She’s definitely my friend. When I was in first and second grade and dealing with those awful girls, she always was there for me. Even though she is my mom, it’s always nice to have someone who’s always there.”

Likewise, her boyfriend is a champion for her mental health. He constantly reminds her to stick with the plans laid out by her therapist, who she has grown very close with over the last two years of treatment.

Jane is not alone in the battle against mental health. A study conducted by the Ottawa County Department of Health found that in a classroom of 25 students, around five have had serious suicidal thoughts, and on average, two have attempted suicide at least once.

That means with a student population of 1800-2000, around 144-160 students have attempted suicide one or more times, and rates continue to rise.

However, because of support from her family and counselor, Jane is getting used to her new normal.

But healing is not a straight path. It sometimes means going back to square one.

“My last suicidal thought was about a month ago,” Jane said. “School was ramping up, and I didn’t want to deal with it. I was isolated from everyone except my family. But I kept my mind distracted. It’s not necessarily the most healthy thing, but I find being busy helps. Otherwise, I make sure I get enough sleep, take my meds at a certain time and work out my schedule until it’s perfect.”

A lot of times, Jane finds that tweaking tiny things in her day-to-day can create colossal changes in her mood and outlook. She has been working with her therapist to do just that and also practicing coping mechanisms for when she does have suicidal thoughts.

Jane has grown so much from this experience. Through this struggle, she found her purpose. To help others in any way she can.

“I want to show kids that it’s okay to struggle with your mental health,” she said. “I want to show them that what their going through is normal and that they do not need to feel disgusting, which is how I felt.”

Jane’s current plan is to work as a Lawyer in the foster care system and help kids that struggle with mental health.

She has come so far from when she started her mental health journey and gathered so much experience to bring to others. Jane swears that nothing good will come from suicide.

“Even if you think your suicide won’t affect anyone, it will,” she said. “Pierce, from my freshman year, when he died, that impacted me, and I didn’t even know him. Just the fact that someone in close proximity committed suicide meant something. No matter what, your death will mean something. So, your life might suck for a while, but with help, you can change how your future looks. You can make your life look however you want it.”