Content Warning: depression, suicidal ideation, anxiety, bullying
Life is a puzzle.
We’ve been given all the pieces we need, and our life’s purpose is to fit them all together to form a picture.
No, that is too simple. It is never that simple.
We all have missing pieces: pieces that we were not given at birth, lost somewhere in the universe, pieces that we lost by our own negligence or ignorance, pieces that were stolen from us, either accidentally or forcibly. Regardless of how or why these pieces have gone adrift, they are gone.
We all have pieces that do not fit together. How did we come by these accidental pieces with ill-formed shapes that dare not attach themselves to our perfectly crafted ones? We do not know.
But in spite of these missing and asymmetrical pieces, we can still form something. I wager that no one has the pieces they need to make a perfect picture in the end. There will be pieces missing. There will be pieces that will not fit.
But we can still create a beautiful picture that means something in the end. And people can still tell what our picture is supposed to be.
But….some of us have too many missing pieces. Too many ill-fitting pieces.
I am one of them.
I described myself as a speck on the world’s wall. I don’t think too many people would have disagreed with that description.
Emotionally tortured throughout my childhood, I was always rejected. I was the quiet, ugly girl you did not want to befriend. Some of my classmates would not even want to sit next to me, let alone talk to me.
My eighth grade social studies teacher bullied me. She told lies about me to all the teachers. Even those teachers who knew me believed her. What could I do? Of course, everyone would believe her. I was only a kid. She was too powerful. I was the Matilda Wormwood to her Ms. Trunchbull. But unlike Matilda, I would not get my happy ending. There was no Miss Honey to rescue me.
There was an unspeakable heartbreak. Someone I loved deeply took away the pieces I needed the most and refused to give them back. No matter how I begged, those pieces belonged to him now. So, cruelly, he refused to return them.
In high school, my peers did not think I deserved to be class valedictorian. It was an objective honor based solely on numbers – my GPA was the highest. But no, it should have gone to him. I wasn’t as smart as him. I wasn’t smart at all.
And I proved them right.
When I started college, I thought it would be a chance to start over. But I learned that you cannot truly start over. You do not get a new box of puzzle pieces. You have to work with what you have.
I didn’t realize. And everything came tumbling down.
I was obsessed with proving everyone wrong. I had ambitious goals. My academic advisors, my “friends”, and my peers all told me I didn’t have what it took. One advisor told me that I wanted too much. Too much. I was too little to do anything remotely impressive.
What is the point of living if there is nothing you can do? If you have so much inside of you that you want to give, but no one wants it and no one needs it?
What is the point of living in a world that views you as a monster?
I was a monster. People were so disgusted by me that I could be nothing else.
It was too much, and I thought, “Well, it can end now”.
I went to bed with tears streaming ever so slightly down my face. My nose was stuffy. I could barely breathe. I said to whatever spirit would listen.
Please let me die. Please don’t wake me up in the morning.
I was diagnosed with depression and generalized anxiety disorder, and I lost even more puzzle pieces. Pieces stopped fitting. My friends abandoned me. My family did not understand mental illness. I was sick, and it was all my fault. And everyone thought I could control it.
Sometimes, I wonder if my brain is just broken. Maybe I just can’t keep up with the pieces. Maybe I’m too stupid to put the pieces I have together.
Maybe I can’t figure out what my picture is supposed to look like.
Maybe the depression and anxiety broke my brain. It already broke my heart and spirit.
I was diagnosed in 2006, but I had suffered long before then. And there is something I learned. No, that’s not true. There is something I keep learning.
We have some puzzle pieces. There may not be a lot of them left. Most may not fit. But everyday we have to get up and work with the pieces we have. We have to put something together, even if it’s not a beautiful, complete picture in the end.
I don’t know if my completed puzzle will resemble anything in the end. But I’ll do all I can with the pieces I haven’t lost and the pieces that fit.
I hope you do too. Because this world needs all you can give.