Perfectionless | Teen Ink


March 25, 2014
By sbryan511, Bend, Oregon
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sbryan511, Bend, Oregon
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Favorite Quote:
"We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, of fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations."

If anyone is reading this, my ashes are- hopefully- spread across the beach in Waipio Valley. I hope that they are travelling to many different places around the world while my family sits in the valley as the waves crash over their toes and the winds blow my sister’s curly hair behind her. I hope that their faces aren’t as tearstained as they were immediately after finding me lifeless underneath the covers. I hope they find the same serenity and calmness that the valley has to offer.

I began to die exactly nineteen years after I was born. I dumped out the bottle of pills and felt them go down smoothly, wrote a note to those who mattered, and crawled into my bed before falling asleep forever on May 11th, 2014.

I’m fairly positive that many are asking why I did it, and unfortunately, that is not what this is about. Sure, at some point I will mention and talk about what led me to this point, but I can’t tell anyone anything that will make them satisfied.

I could tell them that I died because I wasn’t good enough. I could tell them that I swallowed medicine because I felt like I was too broken to be fixed. I could tell them that I was called fat one too many times, but that’s not true, not completely.

I died because I was tired. And that doesn’t make sense to people who don’t wake up to a foggy film over their eyes every day. I have heard endlessly comments like “why don’t you just sleep?” or “if you were tired, you should have told us”.

But I’ve been tired. Believe me, I once stayed up to six in the morning, took a forty five minute nap, and proceeded to go to a full day of school before coming home and crashing. I was tired that day.

There’s a significant difference between that kind of tired that can be fixed by some shut eye and there is a tired that drains you, enfolds you, and consumes you from every direction. The kind of tired that just slams you the second you wake up. The kind of tired that doesn’t allow you to do anything outside of your bed for any period of time without craving for your head to hit the pillow.

It was this tiredness that finished me, ultimately. I lost one too many battles.

That’s all the answer anyone will get out of this story. I was not strong enough to fight another day. I was just too damn tired.

Dorms are shitty. And I say this coming from a nice dorm building with food right there on the bottom floor and a library and study rooms conveniently placed on the other side for the all-nighters. But really, I hate living in a hall where there is constant pressure to socialize. It’s annoying as f***. Plus, there’s one kid who I’m pretty positive I will end up giving a swift kick to the genitals before the year’s out. I won’t even be a little bit sorry.

I was woken up one morning in particular and it was one of those days where I was actually sure that I had sleep walked and was ran over a train the night before. I grabbed my phone off of the top of the fridge and silenced it before I made my two roommates really pissed off and come home to find a passive aggressive post-it note lying on my bed.

Side note: I don’t mind my roommates. Maddie and Kristine are the best of friends, and while that can and usually does end up in me being the third wheel, they put up with a lot of my s***. If we all had similar schedules, I think we would have all been satisfied with our living situation.

I unplugged my phone from its charger and brought it close to my face. Despite the fact that I only had twenty minutes to get up and get dressed, I double and triple checked all of my social media networks before ripping off my fluffy turquoise comforter and sliding out of my flannel sheets onto my concrete floor.

Yawning, I made my way over to my closet and opened it. The weather outside appeared to be cloudy, and possibly raining.

I pulled out one of my bottom drawers and stared at my two pairs of jeans.


I went back over to my bed and dug through my hamper before I found the pair of leggings that I always wore. I somehow simultaneously put on my bra and brushed my teeth before grabbing out a tank top and a cardigan and making it out the door two minutes before my appointment that was maybe seven minutes away.

While walking down the hall, I ran into dearest Caleb. He’s the one that I’m impressed with my ability from refraining from my homicidal tendencies- ha- and today he looks like he’s in one of his moods. He was wearing his cargo pants and his football jersey and he’s walking slowly down the hall.

“Hi Olivia,” he sighed, looking solemnly at the floor.

It took all of my nonexistent mental energy to not just yell “I do not have time for your s***, Caleb!” and instead ask how he was doing.

He sighed again, and told me “I’m alright” before continuing to walk to his room.

I smiled and bid him a good day before walking to the elevator.

I passed the mirror without any sort of temptation to look at my reflection the first time and punched- no, seriously, I punched it- the down button and waited for the familiar hum of the elevator coming up to my floor.

I had to do it.

I had to.

Come on, there was no way that I could look so horribly that it would make me upset, right?

Hint: it did.

The mirror was a full length one. In the top right corner, an index card informed me of the utility policy in our hall and ended with our school logo at the bottom. Another post it note lay next to it, one of those post it notes that, without knowing anything about the reader, insists that they are perfect no matter what they see.

I have come today to prove that goddamn post it wrong.

My reflection told me everything that I needed to know about what was going to happen that day. My stomach screams at me and tells me that I am a pig, and my thighs rub together loud enough that I was sure they would deafen me. I stare at my hair and pull at different strands and staring at the irregular and messy curl patterns and I am once again reminded of my facts of life: I am fat. I am unattractive. I can’t control myself when it comes to food. I am unappealing. I am not a person that people are gravitated towards because of my physical appearance. I am quite positive that my issues are all related to the fact that I am a fat slob and that I can’t control myself.

The elevator door dinged and opened for me soon after.

I ended up being about six and a half minutes late to my psychiatrist appointment.

There was a day once when I was growing up where the neighbors had an inflatable pool and my sister and I were putting on our swimsuits before leaving to play.

My swimsuit was awful- it was from Costco and had a fake Hawaiian flower print all over it and scooped down awkwardly low in the back- and I hated it. Even at nine years old, I was able to tell what made me look grosser and this swimsuit was one of them.

The wood floor creaked underneath me as I walked over to Lydia, who was three years younger, and asked her to help untangle my straps.

I heard her say something about how this swimsuit looked tighter than it did last time, or something to that effect, and I snapped around and asked her if she thought I was fat.

Lydia wouldn’t say anything for the longest time. I had to have been bugging her to respond for five minutes before she whispered a “yes” and began putting on her shoes to walk over to the pool.

After this, I was a little b**** and tattled on my sister for calling me fat. Lydia was pulled from the pool while I was left with my small negative thoughts about my size. Only a few minutes later did my mom come and yank me out of the water and drag me back to our house. She yelled at me for manipulating my sister and ordered me to go up to my room.

I laid there, in bed, for what seemed like forever.

I don’t know why I did that. I’m pretty sure that my sister never even thought of me to even be the least bit fat- I mean, she was six- but for some weird reason I thought I ought to convince her of it. I knew that if I persisted she would end up saying yes regardless of whether or not she meant it. Even though I knew that this couldn’t end well for me, I would hope that she would stamp out all of the negative thoughts that had already begun to sprout in my head and insist that I was beautiful.

I knew she was going to confirm what I had been fearing for months.

I still to this day remember what it felt like to hear my worst fears drip like honey from my sister’s lips. Sticky and impossible to remove, her six-year-old words are still hidden in the cellulite on my thighs.

On that day I tasted my own masochism on my tongue and it burned like fire but tasted sweeter than any ice cream I had ever eaten.

Here’s the story of the time I attempted suicide.
I woke up to snow. Since I happen to live in an area where the city government has absolutely no idea how to deal with any type of precipitation besides rain, I went to check and see if the school had cancelled classes. Of course, I was in luck and I was free for the rest of the day.
And I remember thinking, s***, I’m free for the rest of the day. What the f*** am I supposed to do with my life?
Both of my roommates had left earlier that morning. Maddie had a lacrosse tournament in Santa Barbara this weekend and Kristine decided to meet her sister in town for lunch.
I made myself a cup of peppermint tea and sat down at my computer. I took my hair out of the messy bun I slept in and tied it up into a ponytail. My tea burned hot down my esophagus.
The room was quiet. Entirely too quiet. My thoughts filled the room to the brim and I couldn’t turn them down today, despite the indie music ringing in the background.
This was my life. Lonely, and tired. Always. Thoughts screaming every single second of every single day. Any attempts at trying to suffocate or drown or stab or murder or in any way scar or mutilate these thoughts would only end up with tears racing down my chubby cheeks, blood seeping out of my wrists, and vomit in the sink. Empty containers of ice cream and plastic bags of potato chips litter the floor and I end up being swallowed whole by my relentless self critic.
Today was, of course, no different. The bottles of pills next to my chemistry textbook had been staring at me for two weeks. I had two weeks of antidepressants, a few days of muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatories for my back, and about four doses of painkillers.
The logical side of my brain- which was never there when I needed it to be- went through my “safety plan” that has been drilled into my head for weeks in my hours of therapy these past few weeks. Self soothe, get out of my room, listen to music, call friends, call the counseling center, call the hospital.
My phone dinged in a text message and I entered my password and clicked on my messages. I was expecting someone text me about the snow day and a few emojis but what I saw doubled my heart rate and made my head spin.
It was from my sister, Lydia.
There was a school shooting. We are in lockdown right now.
S***. S***, f***, dammit, what the hell?
I remember sitting there, stunned, for a few minutes. My fingers were shaking as I tried to check and see if she was safe. Were there any more shots fired? How many were injured? Was she going to be at risk? Was she scared? Was she going to be okay?
Lydia, who was scared shitless, told me that it was a boy who brought a gun to school and had killed himself. No one else. Someone else that Lydia knew had blood spattered all over his shirt because he was in the same classroom as the gun. The police had secured the area. The school was only in lockdown because they wanted to make sure that things were still safe for the remaining students.
Why am I not there to protect Lydia? What kind of s*** sister am I if I can’t even protect the people that are closest to me?
I called my dad three times. He didn’t pick up. My mom was at work at this point, so I wouldn’t be able to talk to her. I sent a few texts to my dad.
Step one: self soothe. I stood up from my desk and took a deep breath. A few of them. They didn’t help.
What was I supposed to do?
Step two: get out of my room.
I opened my door and began to meander down the hall, half hoping that there were people in our lounge so I could at least distract myself for a few minutes.
Kristen was in there with a few other people watching a popular TV show. They waved when I walked by, so I opened the door and sat in the back of the room. Someone else who was from the same area where Lydia went asked if I had heard what happened. I nodded and began staring off into space.
Even though my brain was already in one hundred percent freak out mode, I could hear other thoughts seeping into my brain.
Why can’t you f*ing keep it together? Are you really going to pull a Caleb right now and force everyone to try and take care of you? Come on, you’ve got to be kidding me- just smile and cover it up; it’s not that damn hard. People are staring, people are judging, just suck it up already.
At some point I realized that if I were to stay in the lounge for much longer, I was going to have to deal with other people watching me cry and break down and be the center of attention and I couldnt do that right then, not when I was this fat and not when I looked like that unbathed and no glasses and a mess.
I ran/walked to my room and slammed the door shut. Snow was piling on the ground and I was dissolving into nothing.
My heart was beating fast, my thoughts were colliding around in my head and I couldn’t breathe. My lungs shrank back into the back of my ribcage and I could feel my spine sucking them into the spaces in between my vertebrae.
The clouds cast a gray light in my room. It was dark, and the lights weren’t on. I looked up at my window above my desk where I had hung all of the cards, notes, and letters I had gotten from people since I moved into my dorm. They were simply echoes of people who cared. They weren’t here now, and I couldn’t blame them for that.
I don’t think I even went on my computer before pressing and twisting down on three of my bottles of pills. I dumped them all on top of my computer and stared at them.
If that boy could do it, then you know you can. You’ve been thinking about it for ages. You don’t even have the f*ing courage to just go through with it.
I was there, in that moment, to prove myself wrong.
The phone rang. People tell me that’s supposed to be a sign that I wasn’t meant to die that day, but at that point I was sick and tired of looking for “signs”. When I picked up, it was my best friend, Natalie.
“Did you hear what happened at the high school?” I asked in a unfaltering tone. S***, I underestimated to fake emotion over the phone.
“Yes. It’s awful, but thank God it’s over. What are you doing today?”
“Ah, nothing much,” I said. Tears started to break down the levees and I was in a vulnerable position. Either I follow step three, and talk to her, or I just tell her I am busy and I can’t talk right now.
“Natalie?” My voice shook that time. I had let down my guard and I knew there was no going back. “I have a lot of pills right now…”
“Olivia? Olivia? I need you to put them down, okay? I’m going to be right there. Don’t do anything, please!”
Everything went black in my brain. I convulsed and sat rocking back and forth in my chair. I heard quick footsteps running down my hall and then anxious knocks on my door. I cried louder, in zero control of myself, and I couldn’t bring myself to open the door.
I recognized the voice, and it wasn’t Natalie’s. It was Camille’s- she lived in my hall and we started out the year close, until I fell apart and I don’t think she understood what that meant.
She must have dashed down the hall and grabbed keys from Kristine, because soon I heard the door unlock and I felt her arms around my shoulders.
I sobbed for ten minutes before I could even say anything. And then I just let it all out. I spoke the words that were locked up in the deepest recesses of my mind, the things that I heard when things were really bad. These were things that I believed, in my very core, but had spent ages trying to convince myself otherwise.
“Someone killed themselves at my sister’s high school… and I need my pills… I take up too much space… I am not in control.”
“You are so loved,” Camille whispered in my ear, her voice breaking.
I rambled on more about what was bothering me before Natalie knocked on the door. Camille left me to go answer it, and with quivering hands I attempted to pick up my pills and put them all into my hand. Natalie came by me and wrapped me up in her arms, but she didn’t stop me from picking them up.
“What are you doing?” she asked sincerely.
“I need my pills. Please, just let me have my pills.” I myself even heard the desperation in my soul. It was like there was someone imprisoned beneath my lungs and my liver, and they were pushing as hard as they can to escape.
She told me that she wasn’t allowing that, and I bawled on her arm for another thirty minutes.
My phone buzzed as a reminder that I had a doctor’s appointment. F***.
I, somewhat calmly, informed both Camille and Natalie that I had to leave. I remember facing the fact that I had to look them in the eyes, with my own runny nose and puffy face and disgustingly bloodshot eyes, and that petrified me. “Don’t look at me,” I repeated over and over again while placing my hands over my face and put on my coat and rain boots.
They both accompanied me on the way to the health center in the middle of campus. Everywhere students were playing in the snow, and there were no cars to be seen. There was music blaring outside while college students laughed and made snowmen. The contrast between them and me choked me, almost. While they were out enjoying themselves, I wasn’t strong enough to face myself and wanted to die.
My appointment with my doctor was business as usual. I don’t know how the receptionist and the doctor reacted to my obvious instability, I can’t remember exactly.
What happened next blindsided me.
I was waiting to be checked out of the clinic, and since it was closing early due to the weather, I was shoved into an area for the nurses to check my vital signs.
A nurse charged past me and went into my doctor’s office. “You can’t prescribe her pain medication; her friends are sitting out there are worried about her overdosing. Just hold off.”
My doctor responded, “I didn’t prescribe her anything, what’s going on?”
The nurse repeated the situation and after my doctor confirmed that he didn’t give me any more means to harm myself, she walked by me and walked towards me. “Are you okay? Are you in the mood to hurt yourself anymore?”
I lied. I lied through my teeth. I doubt that even the time when I blatantly dishonest and told my mother that I had returned her twenty dollar bill to her wallet after going to store didn’t even begin to compare to the deceitfulness of my simple answer. “I’m fine.”
Kristine lumbered into my room and packed her laundry bag for going home that weekend. I must have asked her at least five times before it clicked in my head that she was leaving for the weekend.
I knew I was going to do it again that night. A quiet calmness and surety filled me the second after I walked out of the health center into the white snow. I had sent all my “friends” away and assured them that I was okay and that all I needed was a nap.
Kristine left within ten minutes and I was alone.
I reopened all of my pill bottles and dumped everything out. I also decided to take out my painkillers and cleared out the rest of those.
This time, I cried only softly. I wasn’t as upset as I was before. I was just tired, and I needed a break.
I gathered them all in my palm.
But I realized that this might kill me, and this might be the last time that I could address those that really matter to me.
A few saltwater tears dripped onto my six page letter to the world. I included people that I didn’t think were even necessary. I included people that surprised me. I said things that I never thought would be my final parting words to people. I was ready.
I went to the sink, pills in hand, and poured everything into my mouth.
The pills went down smoothly, almost soothingly. I looked at my reflection in the mirror.
I was Olivia, and I was ending my story.

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