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WHEN I was sixteen, I usually ignored my therapist. She reminded me of a bumblebee, with her round body and spindly legs. Her frizzy hair stuck out of her head all antennae-like. I hated her, but one day she paused, pursed her lips, and said, “I think you’re going to kill yourself right after you turn eighteen.”


She leaned back in her office chair, and it groaned as she waited for my response. I usually tuned her out. I tolerated her; in order to get another therapist, I would have to tell her that “I just think we should see other people,” and the idea of confrontation made my anxiety spike.


At that point, everything made my anxiety spike. It was difficult to go to the store. If somebody bumped against me in the school hallway, I had to focus to keep from hyperventilating.


But suicide made sense—the only practical thing my therapist had ever suggested. In addition to social anxiety disorder, I’d been formally diagnosed with depression three years before, and isn’t that what people do when they have depression?


I nodded in agreement, and she prattled on again. I couldn’t get suicide off my mind. I ignored her until she started asking questions.


“Have you been thinking about college?”


“Not really.”


“Well, what do you think will happen when you graduate high school?”


“I don’t think anything will happen,” I said. “I imagine that turning eighteen will be like walking through a door, but the only thing beyond the threshold is the void.”


She then asked me what the void looked like, so I made up some shit about stars.


The idea stuck: I would kill myself. No matter how many therapy sessions I attended, I could not imagine living past eighteen, living a life which would certainly involve taxes and a 401 (k) and other horrifying mysteries. I imagined that after I walked through that doorway, I would float between the stars, flailing as I tried to gain purchase on passing asteroids. I would be stuck with a broken spacesuit that made me choke and gasp.


But time passed, and I walked through the doorway. I am twenty-two now, and I find myself in the middle of a void, but this one is less abstract. I’m doing terrifying, grown-up things, like working two jobs and applying to graduate school. I had a panic attack in a Walmart a few months ago, so I’m not exactly #winning, but I am surviving, and that’s more than I would have expected.


I’m living my life in the void. Sometimes I feel that I’m drifting at the mercy of the cosmos, and I think of my therapist’s prediction again. But it can be comfortable here. The stars are lovely, and I never know when I might be swept into the orbit of something beautiful.


I wander in my malfunctioning spacesuit, and instead of letting the radiation turn me to ash, I am looking for the next threshold.






Sarah’s essay is published in support of Bell Let’s Talk Day.
Please consider sharing it using #BellLetsTalk to help raise money for mental health initiatives.


Read more essays in support:

Beth Gilstrap | Liz Harmer | Amanda Leduc (2017)






Sarah Boudreau is a recent graduate of Young Harris College, where she earned her Bachelor’s in creative writing. Her work is published or forthcoming in Profane and Columbia Journal Online. @sarahkboudreau



 
by Sarah Boudreau
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