Ambassador Essay: By Catie Rice
[WARNING: Triggers regarding self-harm methods]
A big part of people’s lives is attending school. For some, school can be an enjoyable experience, filled with many friends and pleasant experiences. For others this is not the case. Imagine waking up in the morning dreading going to school in fear of being ridiculed. Imagine being put down and belittled by fellow classmates for their own entertainment or validation. To later, go home and face the hard question from your parents “How was school?”. I was that kid in junior high. I used to get teased because the other kids thought I was weird. I would get picked on for having bushy eyebrows for a girl and being too pale. I even got picked on for being a tomboy. I remember going home and being angry I was born the way I was. This later led to depression.
Self-harm has been a battle throughout most of my life. Whether it was my own personal struggle or watching one of my close friends battle with it. I remember standing in the doorway to the bathroom watching my friend take out a blade she unscrewed from a pencil sharpener and cut the side of her arm. She had no idea I was standing there until I asked why she was cutting herself. She never gave me an answer. She just said “Don’t worry about it, I’m already in therapy.” Then she rolled down her sleeve and walked passed me like it was no big deal. I remember being scared she would do more harm to herself so I took the blade she left on the bathroom sink and took anything else I thought she could hurt herself with. I never understood why someone would want to hurt themselves. It wasn’t until I hit a low point much later in life I tried it myself. I was passed depressed. I was so overcome by a numbing feeling. I was desperate to feel anything, even pain. So I took a razor blade and cut the side of my leg and watched the blood flow out. I remember feeling euphoric. Not because I liked the sting of cutting my leg but because I was reminded what actually feeling something and feeling human was like. Bleeding meant I was alive. It was then I understood why some people hurt themselves when they were depressed beyond imaginable. It was to escape.
The sad truth is many do not take the time to pay attention to how serious suicide is until it is too late. It is not until then we get insight as to what was going on in that person’s life or take the initiative to care to do something about it. I understand what it’s like to lay in bed motionless for hours with the thought of taking my own life lingering in the back of my mind. One day, I was brave enough to try it. Against all odds, luckily, I am still here. After that incident I sought treatment and along the way, learned ways to cope with my depression. I am proud to say I am now living my best life possible. One of my biggest aspirations in life is letting as many people as I can going through something similar know it can get better. There is hope.
Aside from bullying, mental health plays a huge role in suicide. Mental illness is something I’ve had to overcome every day since I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder a few years ago. After explaining to my doctor some of my struggles with my on-again-off-again depression and insomnia she referred me to a psychiatrist. It was then I was officially diagnosed. After the psychiatrist explained exactly what bipolar disorder was it started to make sense. After finding the right combination of medicine, dealing with this disorder became more manageable.
I discovered The Peyton Heart Project when someone involved told me about it. What drew me to be a part of this organization is the people involved really stress the importance of suicide awareness. Also, I don’t think people fully realize the long-term effects bullying can have on someone. I think spreading kindness and a positive message can at least make some people feel better about themselves. Hopefully, that will start a chain reaction and they can spread positivity too.
Suicide awareness is a topic I am very passionate about. I would also like to do what I can to end bullying. This is something I understand well due to personal experiences. Because I have personal experience I believe I can speak first hand on how to deal with certain situations. I hope to spread information on the topic and influence others to do the same and make a difference.
I plan to spread word of The Peyton Heart Project wherever I can throughout my reign of Miss Central PA and into the future. I will place hearts wherever I go when doing appearances. I will also do so anytime there is an opportunity someone will find them. I plan to use the voice my title in pageantry has given me to touch people’s lives in a positive way. My platform is all about anti-bullying and suicide awareness so I really stress the importance of getting The Peyton Heart Project out there.