Courteney, 22, Anchorage/Alaska

**** TRIGGER WARNING **** Mentions suicide and self-harm *****


“I’ve been battling mental illness for as long as I can remember. I guess my struggles really began at age 12, though. When I was 12, my beautiful older sister took her life and my entire world came crashing down.

Shortly after my sister’s death, I started self- harming as a way to cope with the unimaginable pain. I struggled for many years with depression, anxiety and PTSD. At 16, I had my first suicide attempt.
I hid the fact that I was hurting so bad from everyone I knew. I was scared how people would react so I hid everything deep down and smiled through it all. Ask anyone and they would tell you I was the happiest person they knew. I was always smiling and upbeat to hide how bad I was really struggling.
Eventually things just got so awful and I couldn’t hide anything anymore. Everything took a turn for the very worst in June 2017. In June 2017, I was hospitalized for the very first time after a suicide attempt. I stayed on the mental health unit for 36 days and was so high risk that they refused to release me. During this time, I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. I was sent from Alaska to a residential facility in Florida. I spent about 6 months in Florida. In those 6 months I went through 2 residential stays, and was sent to the hospital involuntary twice.
I thought this was going to be the beginning of my recovery but I was wrong.
January 7th 2018, I had an attempt and ended up in the Intensive Care Unit(ICU). I was then sent to the mental health unit that I started at for 10 days. I was released and attempted less than 12 hours after getting out. I spent another 27 days on the mental health unit then was sent to a crisis recovery center. I had several more attempts and was in and out of the hospital.
April 13th, I had another severe attempt and spent 3 days in the ICU. I was not expected to live but I survived yet again. This time the mental health unit would not accept me back  and I was put on the waiting list to go to the state institution. I waited at the hospital for 10 days and was scared to death. I read stories about how people had been treated at the state institution and could not believe I was going to be headed there.
I spent 68 awful days at the Alaska Psychiatric Institution. It was one of the most traumatic experience of my entire life. I was screamed at, spit at, threatened, hit and had stuff thrown at me. I slept on a cold, plastic mattress with no sheets. I was sexually assaulted during my stay there. I was so traumatized that the day I was released, I attempted. I endured my third ICU stay and was sent back to the state institution that traumatized me so bad. This time I only spent 5 days there and was sent home because I wasn’t getting any better.
I had three months of no attempts and everyone thought I was better. I was honestly struggling worse than before but knew I had no help available to me.
October 11th, I just couldn’t handle the pain anymore and I attempted again. What I took put me into a deep, cold sleep and not even shaking me could wake me up. I was rushed to the hospital and was there for 5 days. I didn’t want to be sent back to the state institution so I lied and convinced them I was okay.
They released me and the next day I went out into the woods and was determined to end my life. The cops were called on me and I was taken to the hospital. This was by far my worst attempt and I was seconds away from death. I had to have a central line placed into a main artery my neck that went into my heart. Through this central line, I received dialysis. The doctors told me this was my last hope and that it might not work. I was told to prepare to die a slow and painful death. It ended up working and I survived. I spent 4 days in the ICU and this was my 4th ICU stay since January.
I left the psychiatrists at a loss. They said there were no treatment options left for me and was sent home. I didn’t know what to do. How could I be sent home after my worst attempt yet?
November 8th is my most recent attempt.
It’s now been three weeks and I still struggle every single second. Most days I don’t know how to breathe. I don’t know how to be in this world. I don’t know how to keep going with so much pain. I didn’t expect to still be here. I question why I survived when so many don’t. I don’t feel worthy. I don’t feel like I deserve to be on this earth. But I am here. I’ve survived all of the days I thought I wouldn’t. I’m still breathing. I’m taking it second by second. I can tell you I will be here another birthday and another Christmas, when a couple weeks ago I couldn’t tell you if I’d be here another minute.”
You can follow Courteney’s journey on her instagram.


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