Column: Anywhere but here

They tell you how to handle it, what it is and what to look for, but what they don’t tell you is how it doesn’t stop hurting


The light flickered in my hands, the flame never went out

I didn’t want to be there. None of us wanted to be there.

“Class is getting out at 9:30 today.”
“We’re having a suicide awareness presentation later today.”

I walk into third, convinced it’s going to be all right.
I sit down.
But as soon as I look at the board and see the video we’re about to watch, I freeze.
And suddenly I’m not there.
Suddenly it’s summer;
suddenly it’s August.
It’s the day that turned into a nightmare at 2 o’clock.
A nightmare that lasted four days, and on that fourth day it turned into reality.
All my friends were gathered together, but none of us wanted to be there.
Because being there made it real,
and none of us wanted it to be real.

I snap back into reality as my teacher says “We’re going start now because this will take around 45 minutes.”
I look around the room from my seat in the back of the classroom.
Everyone’s OK.
Everyone’s breathing.
But I was suffocating.
I could hear the blood pounding in my ears; I could feel my heart thumping against my rib cage.

Fight or flight.

My mind was telling me to fight,
but my heart was telling me flight.
The video starts, but I’m not really listening.

“This is how to handle stress.”
I breathe in.
“This is what depression is.”
I breathe out.
“These are the signs of a suicidal person.”

Oh god.
I look down at my hands and see they’re slightly shaking.
I text my friend, just her name.
But her name isn’t just for acknowledgement.
It’s a silent plea.
A plea of “I want to know I’m not the only one who feels this way.”
I want to cry, she responds, I just want to run out of here.
I take a deep breath and text my other friend.
Are you okay?
I’m disgusted, he replies.

I didn’t want to be there; none of us wanted to be there.

I look up at the board as the video we’re supposed to be watching says something about Kahoot.
The online game.
A game?
We’re going to be educated about depression and suicide using a game?
My heart’s trying to break my ribs again and as I look down at my phone I see that I’m not alone.
Are they serious?
This is disgusting.
This is not the way they should be handling this.

I didn’t want to be there; none of us wanted to be there.

The video continues, but my mind is months in the past.
Pictures, words and her singing flash across the screen.
My teacher flicks the lights on.
The light flickered in my hands, the flame never went out.
My teacher starts talking.
My best friend is speaking. I’ve never seen him like this before. I don’t like it. I don’t like it.
The people in front of me won’t stop laughing at the fact that they’re beating the stupid game.
There is no talking, she’s sobbing. He’s crying. Silent tears stream down my friends face, my other friends face, the people in front of me, the people behind me. My face.
The laughter.
Oh the laughter.

It only rained one day that entire summer; it rained the day everyone found out what had been lost.

I almost run out of the room. I go to stand up.
My phone buzzes in my hand.
I look down at the text I just received.
I ran out of the room, I couldn’t handle it.
I take a deep breath and slowly sit back down. I can do this.

I never was one for religion, but the first thought I had every day after that day for months straight was a silent prayer.

I would have to go through it three more times.
None of them got easier.
Except that the sadness turned to anger.
I went from shaking hands to clenched fists.

I never once cried; never once spoke a word.

Because I didn’t want to be there.
None of us wanted to be there.