“Finding Who We Are” Entry #2: From the Outside Looking In

The longer I live, the more I value other’s stories. They are testaments of unique experiences, challenges, and lessons that we will never be able to understand on our own. Our stories represent their own unique perspective on life and they beg to be shared. Today, we have our second story in the Finding Who We Are Series.

Here’s a brief bio on Emily:

Hi, my name is Emily and I write a blog called Out of the Darkness; Into the Light! It is currently under construction, but I already have a few posts on there. For the past two, almost three years, I have been raising awareness for mental health and suicide prevention. I, myself, struggle with anxiety/depression, something that I have dealt with for many years. After losing my friend, it has become a strong passion to raise awareness for mental health and suicide prevention. My hopes are that people will be encouraged to reach out.

You can find her blog here.

We hope you find comfort, encouragement, and hope in Emily’s story. Enjoy!

I’ve sat here writing and rewriting, thinking of the right words to say. I’ve been telling this story for two and a half years now, but for some reason, my mind went blank. Maybe it’s because of the overwhelming sorrow that overcomes me as I tell it. All the memories have come flooding back as I write this.

This is Izzy’s story from my perspective.

I met Izzy my sophomore year of high school. We were put in the same math class and we were assigned seats next to each other. We sort of knew each other, we had mutual friends, but before that class, we never really had talked before. As we sat, waiting for the class to start, she turns to me and asked me if I was good at math. I said no, and she said, “Good. Now we can be failing-math-buddies.”

For the next few months, Izzy and I became super close. She was witty and a great artist. I loved to watch her draw, which was usually during class. The last picture I saw her draw was a beautiful flower. Throughout our conversations, I learned that Izzy struggled with chronic depression, and what may have been depersonalization disorder. She constantly told me that she felt like she was disconnected from her body. She said she felt like she was literally on the outside looking in. It caused many panic attacks for her.

Izzy and I always sat together at lunch. Some days, we would sit at a table with some of our friends, or some days she would sit in the corner of the cafeteria, away from everyone else. I would sit next to her on the floor and we would sit there in silence. An occasional word here and there, but mostly silence.

She always had candy with her, God forbid if she didn’t. We both loved Tootsie Rolls, but she would always give me the vanilla flavored ones because she hated them. I wasn’t a big fan of them either, but I took them anyways and gave them to another friend.

Izzy knew that I was a Christian and it was something we talked about quite a bit. She told me that she didn’t really believe in God, she was more agnostic, but she asked a few questions about my faith. She told me that I wasn’t like some of the few Christians she knew. There was this conversation, though, where I felt like I came across very conceited, and I apologized later that day. I can’t remember exactly what I had said, but she told me that she didn’t even notice I had come across that way and not to even worry about it. I still kind of feel bad to this day about that conversation.

She started missing school a lot, which I didn’t take much notice to. I figured she got sick and a part of that is true. Since she missed a lot of the notes, I let her borrow my notebook from time to time. There was this one incident, I let her borrow my notebook overnight so that she could copy down my notes since we had a quiz scheduled for that Monday. The next day was Friday and she hadn’t come to school, I got upset because I wanted to study over the weekend for the quiz, not that it mattered, now that I think of it. I messaged her after class that day and asked her where she was, and she told me she had a panic attack and she had to go home early. I instantly regretted getting mad at her…. When she came back that following Monday, she gave me back my notebook and a giant handful of candy.

One day, one of our friends came up to me and said that Izzy had dropped out of school. When I got home and logged onto Facebook, there was a message from her saying, “So, it’s official. I’m your homeschool buddy. My mom decided that I had to switch over until we can get my medication figured out and working, I may be able to come back next year if I’m lucky.” I have all of our messages saved.

The next day, we were talking about Heaven, specifically whether or not there would be bacon in Heaven. I don’t know, it was just a random, silly conversation. I wish I had gone into more detail about it and what I believed in, but our conversation was cut short.

Three days later…..

I was sitting at lunch by myself when one of my friends came up to me. She asked me if I had heard the rumor that someone had died and if I knew about it. I had no idea. I didn’t think it was Izzy, we had just talked three days before. I went to math class and it was apparent that my teacher was upset. We had another quiz that day (this guy loved quizzes apparently).

Ten minutes into class, the administration walked in as my teacher was teaching. Judging by the looks on their faces, something was wrong, terribly wrong. I prepared to face the horrible, wretched news of the rumor that had spread around, and my fears were confirmed. One of the counselors stepped up and told that us that Izzy was in the hospital on life support and they did not know whether she was going to make it or not. They told us that they would not tell us the details of what had happened until later.

I had to get home. That’s all I could think about. I. Had. To. Get. Home. I didn’t have a cell phone at the time so I had to call someone. As soon as that bell rang, I ran out of the room and got on my bus. That’s when I let it out. I started sobbing and one of my friends just held me as I cried. As soon as I got home, I called one of our friends, but her mother picked up. She explained to me that Izzy had attempted to take her own life and that she was on life support. She was brain dead. I hung up the phone and went to the computer and pulled up a picture of Izzy. I don’t know why. I just did.

I sat there and I screamed and cried. That was the worst moment of my life, losing Izzy. I had already told my mom and my brother what had happened and that I was waiting for more details on Izzy. My dad came home from work and saw me sitting at the computer just sobbing. My brother told him what happened and my dad put his hand on my back while I sobbed. I think he was praying, I’m not sure.

Later that evening, our friends and I met up and had a miniature memorial for Izzy. She was technically still alive, but it was clear that she was not going to make it. We sat there and cried and laughed with each other, sharing stories about her. We needed each other in that moment.

Izzy took her last breath May 1st, 2014 at 10:00pm. My heart was shattered. The funeral was a few days later, something I never imagined I would have to go to. Izzy was only 16 years old. Forever 16. The room was packed, people lined the walls and there was quite a few in the hallway. They played her favorite song, “The Rain Song”, by Led Zeppelin, and showed some of her artwork, including the flower I saw her drawing. I don’t remember too much of the funeral, it was a painful blur.

Every time I tell this story about Izzy, it always brings tears. So many tears. The familiar sorrow is overwhelming. To be honest? I felt like I had failed as a friend to Izzy. Those days where we sat on the floor in the cafeteria in silence could have been conversations. Even if it was just me talking. I could have told her more about God….. I know that it’s Satan telling me these lies. My roommate says it’s a lie so big and vast, that NASA has to send a rocket or something to explore it, and that’s true. It is a lie that I can’t help believing.

After Izzy died, I threw myself into research. I tried to do everything I could to raise awareness for suicide and depression. I quickly learned that I am unable to do everything. Christ has taught me that in the last two years, and so much more. He gave me this passion to raise awareness for depression and suicide. He has given me many opportunities to reach out. I have my own past with depression and I know how hard it is to struggle with it. I just wish that Izzy would have known that I know how hard it is.

Please, reach out. If you or someone you know struggles with depression, please reach out. You have a voice and we want you to be heard. Be the voice for the voiceless.

I am beyond grateful that I was able to share Izzy’s story with y’all. Thank you, Matty, for opening up your blog to others that they may share their story!

Thank you so much, Emily for sharing that story. It was an incredibly powerful tribute to Izzy.

This is a picture from Emily’s work as a photographer


We also thank you for taking the time to read the post and we hope that you have found encouragement and peace.

You are loved.

You are valued.

You are not alone.

14 Replies to ““Finding Who We Are” Entry #2: From the Outside Looking In”

  1. Suicide of a loved one changes the way your world turns. Forever. There are so many unanswered question, so much survivors guilt. Being one of the people left behind is traumatic, something you will never quite recover from. Suicide adds a whole other context to death. I survivied my own mother’s suicide when I was 20 yrs old. And early Sept this year, a dear friend was also lost. You never get over it. You just learn to live with it, as painful as it is, it becomes another facet in the story of your life. I’m so sorry for you loss. Especially when you were both at such a young age. People say suicide is selfish. I say the way people react to suicide is selfish. We should honour their constant, persistent struggle, and let go with love a decision that has finally brought them peace and rest. Its not easy to do. It has no time frame. We all reconcile the loss in our own way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This was certainly powerful to read and presented another side to the story that I didn’t even think about. You’ve inspired me to even begin thinking about how to write in a way that helps survivors cope with the trauma. You’ve got my brain turning. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I once heard that that meeting other people who have been impacted by suicide is like being a part of a club nobody asked to join. The woman who said that lost her husband in 2005, and is now the coordinator of Out of the Darkness walks. I was talking to my friend the other night after this post went live and neither of realized each other’s pain after Izzy died. We just went through it alone, nobody reached out. There are many ways suicide changes lives and different ways to cope. Eventually, I plan on writing on my blog about the aftermath after Izzy’s death. Your comment does bring new things to mind.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. This story is one that brings my own life to the forefront of my brain. I have suffered from depression, probably since I was in my early teens. In those days, I dealt by cutting. In my 20’s I started taking antidepressants and then anxiety medication, and mood stabilizers, and eventually anti-psychotics. After a number of suicide attempts, and more hospitalizations than I can even count, I have found a happy medium, and have not been hospitalized for my depression since 2007. Coincidently, that was the same year that I was diagnosed with MS, a brain aneurysm, and quit smoking. That’s a lot to go through in one year.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I think, and you may realize this by now, that just sitting with Izzy in silence probably helped her immensely. Sometimes conversation isn’t going to be helpful. It’s easy to second guess in hindsight, but you were there for her. You sat with her. You didn’t allow yourself to be pushed away by silence. And that’s important. I commend you for your efforts to raise awareness. It’s so important. None of us can do it alone, but possibly all of us can do it together.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now that I think about it today, I think I know that every moment spent with Izzy helped her in some way. Every now and then, though, the thought does come to mind. Thank you for reading and for your comment! You’re exactly right, we can do this together.

      Liked by 2 people

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