The following post was written by a lifelong friend of mine, Melanie Whithaus. As kids, I remember spending hours in her parent's basement, expressing our introverted imaginations by creating scenarios and dressing in costumes. We drifted apart when Mel moved away, but thankfully, adulthood has reconnected us with a shared interest in pursuing our dreams. Melanie is an established writer with three published books of poetry, Enigma, The Aviary, and Heart Murmurs and Nosebleeds. Her voice is refreshingly honest, and I am honored to host her story. Discover more of Melanie's work on her personal blog, www.melwritessometimes.wordpress.com. I hope you find her advice as comforting as I do. With love, Ari.
Photo by Wil Driscoll
In December 2013, I attempted suicide for the second time that year. It was snowing that night, and I remember staring at the florescent lights above me in the emergency room just wondering why—why I was like this and why I was in so much pain? Why did I hate myself so much that I would result to this?
I was homesick. I was homesick for a lot of things: love, family, a peace of mind, and myself. I had just started my first serious relationship in years, I had a rocky relationship with my family, and I suffered from severe anxiety. But most importantly, I was not the person I used to be—motivated, happy, and passionate. The old me was nowhere to be found. She was smothered by alcohol and negative thoughts.
Homesickness is much more than just the longing to go somewhere; it’s about feeling too much which can be a good and bad thing. At this point in my life, my emotions were telling my story for me. I didn’t have a voice behind my words. I am a writer first and foremost, but I wasn’t writing. I wasn’t breathing. My voice wasn’t mine.
While in the emergency room, I thought about my family, about my boyfriend, about the final exam I was missing. My mom cried when I called her the next morning and she apologized for something I had done to myself. My boyfriend almost left me because he didn’t know how to handle a suicidal girlfriend. I was severely depressed. I was an alcoholic. I had lost nearly all my loved ones because I couldn’t get my life together. I knew then and there that I needed to make an important decision that was blatantly life or death.
My attempts didn’t kill me—they woke me up.
I got up. I pushed through, but recovery wasn’t easy and it sure didn’t happen overnight. I went through countless therapy sessions and even rehab for a short while. I kept saying that I wanted to get better and that I just didn’t know how. But my answer was always right there. It was me. I realized that I had to make the positive changes in my life to fix my toxic lifestyle. It wasn’t up to a therapist or shrink to fix me. I had to make the change.
Today while I still suffer from depression and social anxiety, my life is going in a much positive direction. I’m going to graduate school to pursue my dreams of becoming a famous writer, and I’m using my emotions to fuel my art rather than smother it. I’m in a positive and loving relationship with my boyfriend of nearly four years, and I’m now an aunt.
Homesickness made a place in my life that I can never forget. Those feelings of loss and emptiness will stay with me forever and make me stronger each and every day. But it was those little things in life that brought me back from the dead. I wanted to feel something beyond the cuts on my arms and the alcohol in my veins. I wanted to feel alive.
Those little things are the best cure for homesickness: coffee, chapstick, oversized sweatshirts, music, poetry, laughter, the sound of rain hitting the window…. These are just a few examples from a list that could go on forever. Find what makes you laugh and hold onto it. Find what makes you cry and let it go. You are a strong individual who can pull through and become something even greater than you already are.
Written by Melanie Whithaus