Most people who meet me would never believe that not all that long ago I stood on chair with a rope tied around my neck. That not all that long ago I tilted my head back and downed a few bottles worth of pills. That I begged for death on a daily basis and tried to make that wish come true not once, not twice, but three times. Most people who meet me would never know that in my mind exists a dark and crowded battlefield. I was first diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder and body image issues in my early twenties when I saw my very first psychiatrist. But my struggle with these problems began early in my youth. I just thought I was weird. And so I never shared the feelings which threatened to consume me on a daily basis. I didn’t want to be a bother to anyone.
All my friends went to parties, had sleepovers, and hung out with friends. And I broke down and was crippled at the mere thought of being surrounded by lots of people, especially ones I didn’t really know. While I loved cozy intimate chats with my closest friends and family, I detested small talk. I hated “getting to know people.” And even more than all that, I hated the fear of walking into a room and being noticed. And I always was. My personality was like honey to flies. I didn’t want to be noticed, I wanted to stay invisible in my safe, cozy, corner. But, no, people had to see me. Had to want to talk to me. It. Was. Too. Much. For. Me. To. Handle. So for most of my life, I made excuses as to why I couldn’t go places and do things. Because I let the fear win.
And then there was the way I looked. God, I was so ugly and so fat. I would stand in front of the mirror for hours, naked, and fixate on every flaw I saw. There were so many. I hated myself. And even though my ribs and hip bones were visible, still, I was so fat. So ugly. How in the world anyone could even share space with me was a mystery in my mind. I used to refer to myself as the hideous beast. And so I would fake eating, giving all my food to the dog, or hiding it in bags in my room to throw away later. I would find peace and comfort in the control I had when I felt the acid burn in my empty stomach. That burn. It made me feel alive.
All of these struggles led me to make poor decisions in my life. I married someone I shouldn’t have. I endured things in my marriage I shouldn’t have. I slowly became a person I no longer recognized. Said and did things I shouldn’t have. Which made me hate myself even more. I was beyond depressed.
It was after my third and failed attempt at suicide when I had to make a change. A big one. I was about to be institutionalized for an undetermined amount of time, but my psychiatrist felt like I had it in me to fight it. And so, for some reason, he gave me one last chance. And something, finally, shifted inside of me. The burn I now felt wasn’t acid, it was the urge to fight. The fight to live.
I got divorced and cut all the toxic people and experiences out of my life. I went to therapy every single day. I posed nude at local art classes to teach myself that my body was beautiful, that my body – all bodies – are a work of art. I slowly began to reintroduce myself to the real Lisa. I began to write again. I began to dream again. I began to smile again. I began to live again.
But for as much work as I have done. The struggle is always there. My demons are always right behind me waiting for me to trip, so they can tug me back into that deep, dark hole. But I refuse to stop walking, to stop moving forward. And when I struggle, and I trip, I don’t stay down long, I do the work I need to and hop back up again. Stand up taller than I have before.
I continue to suffer, because I always will. And that’s okay. I’ve come to peace with my struggles. In many ways, I am eternally grateful for the darkness which plagues me. It makes me savor the good and the wonderful in my life all the more.
I continue to surround myself with people who love me. An incredible husband who cares for me and gives me reason enough to live each and every day. Friends who make me feel good and make me laugh. And when I’m having a bad day, I share it. I let it out. I’m not afraid of who I am anymore. I engage in activities that make me feel better. That distract me from the evil voices inside my head. I open up my gratitude journal which I write in each and every day and I read all the things I’m thankful for. And I constantly remind myself to never stop fighting. To never stop smiling. And to never take any moment of this precious life for granted.
No longer do I let my struggles stop me. I make myself go out into the world and live. On most days, all goes well. On some days, I struggle horribly. But I never let myself feel like a failure because of it. Because at least I’m out there trying. At least I continue to stand back up.
There are good days and there are bad ones. And that’s just the way life is. It doesn’t mean I’m weird. Or crazy. Or unworthy of being loved. So, yes, I struggle and suffer. Maybe more than others do. But I’m a daughter. A friend. A writer. A wife. And just like everyone else…I’m human.
Lisa M. Gott is a contemporary literary fiction author. Her stories tell of the human spirit – sometimes sad, sometimes not – most can relate to them on some level or another. Gott began her writing career under the nom de plume L.M. Stull. Her new name represented not only a new chapter in her personal life, but in her literary one as well. When she’s not feverishly weaving words, you can find her enjoying nature, spending time with her incredible husband, and, sometimes, sipping a latte. Okay, maybe more than sometimes.
Just…wow. You always seem so happy and optimistic! I guess that just shows how far you’ve come. Good luck to you and Buddy!
Aww thank you so much, Lauralynn! I’m a much different person today than I was five years ago. At least I have the tools now to help myself out of those hard moments. And I have someone whose love mends me over and over every day.
It means so much to me that you took the time to read my story. Thank you so much!
Amazing post, Lisa. You have such a great spirit and you’re an excellent writer too. Since I’m just getting to know you now, it’s hard to imagine you struggling so much, and I’m so glad you’re doing better. If you’d met me in the 80s or early 90s, you probably wouldn’t have recognized me either, as I also struggled with horrible eating disorders and debilitating anxiety. Sometimes I actually think that old person died, but then a bad day will come along and I’ll remember that she’s still a little bit alive in there. I can say, though, that with each passing year, things have gotten easier, and I hope you have a similar experience. Life is a good thing! xo
Aww. Hi Mary! I’m so sorry to hear you, too, struggled with so much of the same issues. And, yes, it does get easier. It is amazing how you can feel like it is all completely gone and then.. boom. It’s back! Just like that. The darkness taunts and teases. But as each day and each year passes we get stronger and those demons become weaker. We become better fighters and, eventually (hopefully) they decide to leave us alone for good. Life IS good! Thank you for sharing some of your story and for reading mine. xoxo
Lisa, thank you for sharing your story. To say I was completely caught off guard would be an understatement. Your optimism, openness and love of life is so contagious and I kept thinking, this can’t be about her. I am so happy you were unsuccessful in your attempts and fought the way you did to get to where you are today. The world would have missed out on an amazing writer… Buddy would still be looking for the “one”…and many of your new friends on Facebook would not be able to look forward to your posts, blogs and smile that grace its pages everyday. You are beautiful inside and out, don’t ever believe any thing less.
Oh, Sherry, you have me tearing up! Your beautiful comment means so very much to me. Thank you! Thank you! THANK YOU!
Dear Lisa. I’ve known you for several years through social media and to be honest when I first got to ‘know’ you I was intimidated– mostly because of my own insecurities. But you were always gracious. It was a thrill to finally learn what the L in L.M. was– really, it made me happy.
After I started reading your works I saw the pain and recognized it. I also said many prayers for you because they helped me too.
When you met Buddy I also said prayers that this was the guy for you and to my great joy he is! I’ve watched you blossom from afar and I still held my breath a little that you weren’t on a roller-coaster–and you aren’t!
I never knew how much you had struggled and to be honest I’m glad I didn’t. I’ve always held you in best regards and you’ve actually helped me overcome some dark times. You are a special person and I can say I care for you and it’s so good to see you in a happy place!
Oh boy, all you lovely people are going to make me cry! Dannie, getting to know you has being nothing but an absolutely pleasure. And your unfettered support over the years has meant more to me than you’ll probably ever know. Ha, I remember you being so excited to learn I was Lisa! 🙂 Thank you for all the prayers and well wishes. And for all the smiles and laughs. Thank you for just being you!! xoxo
Powerful stuff! Wonderful, too. I can sure relate. I’m happy to be your friend and so very glad that you’ve made it so far and that you “keep on keeping on”… so that you continue to have all those good moments that are there when you have successfully fought your way through the darkness that occasionally strikes. It sure is worth it. And very worth it to those who love you and who are your friend (me). I know that if ANY of us were not here, things would not be the same. Yes, we’d survive, but we would go on with a bit less of our heart, for our loved ones and friends make up our joy – our heart. So you just keep on keeping on, girl! <3
And to anyone reading this, you, too, keep on keeping on. Push through that darkness to the light. You can do it! Lisa did it (and keeps doing it). I keep doing it. So, damnit, YOU keep doing it! *hugs* 🙂
Thank you, Lisa, for sharing such a personal, profound… and inspiring part of you. It has helped and will help many.
I appreciate you, and am always filled with bubbly light when I see you online. You are a joy to this world and it/we/I need you. Remember that.
Awww! There he is! Mgon, you are just the sweetest. And I am so glad life has put our two worlds into the same orbit. You have no idea how very much your kind words have warmed my heart. I am beyond happy to call you friend. And I am so excited that we get to share our journeys. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
Thank you for sharing your story, still thinking about it two days later. You’re so brave! #fellowSADsister
Jovita! Thank you so much for your kind words and for reading mine. This has been such an overwhelmingly wonderful experience. Both sharing it with all my current friends, but also connecting with new friends who understand all too well from what I suffer.
Big hugs to my #fellowSADsister!
I love you so much!!!! *HUGS* Reading this brought tears to my eyes. I’m so very glad you were unsuccessful in your attempts to end your life. Even though we’ve never met in real life, you are very dear to me <3
Thank you so much, Shay. Means the world to me. And you are dear to me! <3