Ellen, 15, is a bright, attractive well-liked high school sophomore. Nevertheless, she has plunged into despair and is contemplating suicide. In this three-part series she talks about her feelings, the problems at home and at school and the help she receives from her friend, Jenny.
It's like a pain that hurts so deep down inside I can't find where it starts and where it ends. Sometimes I can't stop crying, and other times I can't find any tears, and I just shake with sorrow.
I just feel so alone. I wish I could tell someone, but I don't know who I could turn to with this. No one would understand how I feel.
At night I lay awake for hours, just watching the clock change, the numbers move. I listen to the sounds of the night - the cars, the dogs, and wonder why it feels as if I am the only one awake in the whole world. The headlights flash across my room, but this only makes me feel even lonelier.
My pain is real. It's not a physical hurt, but an ache so deep within me. I just wish it would go away. I cry and cry, until my pillow is soaked, until I can't think of anything except for the emptiness inside. I can barely eat, except when someone puts food in front of me. Nothing seems to interest me anymore- not my friends, not my books, not the TV. I don't understand what's happening to me.
School isn't even real for me anymore. I go there, talk to the others, show up for class. But it all seems like a fake to me - as if I'm moving through a dream. I don't listen in class anymore, I never study... I just go through the motions of living. My real life is spent here at home, just thinking about what will be, and how I can go on like this.
I wonder if anyone even notices what's happening to me, if anyone even cares. Sometimes I think that as long as I show up and do what I'm expected to , no one will discover what's really going on inside of me. I feel so alone...so afraid.
I walk through my life like an actor in a play, wearing different masks when I'm with different people. But none of them are really me. I don't even know who I am anymore. I think I hate myself- whoever I am these days. If there is a God, why can't He help me with this?
I can't go on like this much longer. There are times when I dream of heaven and what it's like to die - to be in a place where everything is peaceful and everyone is happy; where no one blames you for things you didn't do, or expects you to be someone you aren't; where everyone gets along with each other.
I can hardly remember what things were like before. The truth is, I don't even feel like my life is worth anything anymore. These days I have nothing left to live for, and I'm so very sad. But my pain is the worst part... It's so deep, so achy, and it just won't go away.
Ellen, 15 years
Today at school I tried to be part of things. All the kids were hanging out together after class. I went over and stood with them. I tried to get into what they were saying. But I couldn't. It just doesn't work for me anymore. Something is missing inside of me, the part that makes me feel alive. I just stood there, staring at them, and wondering what was wrong with me. I don't think anyone even noticed how different I've become - that I'm not really one of them anymore.
Everyone thinks I'm so popular, that I have everything. If only they knew what's really going on inside of me. If only they knew how I just want to die sometimes - to just give it all up - take pills or something. I think a lot about ending it all, and not having to spend my days in this fog of just getting through life.
The kids are jealous because they think we're rich. But none of it is worth anything to me anymore. I don't care that my folks spend money on me, that I have expensive clothes, a fancy house. It's all useless when my life is like this. I would give it all up in a minute if only I could have my life back the way it was before all this started.
When my parents are home and the fighting starts, I just want to disappear. They yell so loudly and with so much anger that I wish I could become small again, like a little baby, so I wouldn't understand the hateful words they scream at each other. I know they keep saying it has nothing to do with me, that it's not my fault, but sometimes I think that if I were a better student, a good daughter, none of this would be happening.
Today at school Mr. Douglas yelled at me in front of the whole class. He said that I looked like I was in outer space, that I never listen in class anymore.
How can I? How can I think of things like schoolwork when my whole life is falling apart? How can I even dream of studying when I can't think of anything except wanting to die?
I was really surprised when Jenny came over to me after class and asked me what was wrong. She said she could tell that something was bothering me. I didn't think anyone noticed. I didn't think anyone cared. I wanted to say something about what's been happening in my life. I almost told her. But then something stopped me. I just answered that I was okay. But I don't think she believed me.
She just gave me a hug and said she was there to listen if I ever wanted to talk about it. I almost started crying when she said that. It made me feel better that someone finally sees that I'm not myself anymore. I'm not ready to talk about this with anyone. I don't think she could really understand what it's been like for me. But inside I was glad that she asked me. I didn't feel so alone afterwards.
It's 3:00 am now and I can't fall asleep. The hours are passing so slowly and soon I'll have to get up and get ready for school again. One more day of just dragging myself through life. I really don't want to go on like this. Tomorrow maybe I'll look through Mom's closet to see what kinds of pills she has there. I know someone who tried to slit her wrists but I heard that's real messy. I don't want to do it like that. If there was a real easy way and I didn't think it would hurt, I would do it right now, and just get it over with.
I wonder what my folks would do then. Would they put on a show for everyone like a loving couple- so everyone could see how sad they were about their poor little daughter? It makes me sick just to think about it.
Maybe Jenny will talk to me again tomorrow. Maybe this time I'll try to tell her what's really wrong. Maybe she can help.
Mom and Dad had their usual breakfast fight today, but I stayed in bed until they were done. I can't take listening to the way they put each other down all the time. I was so tired after being awake most of last night anyway.
As soon as they both left, I went through the medicine cabinet in their bathroom. There were a lot of pills there, but I found one bottle that said "For Insomnia". I once read about a movie star who killed herself by taking sleeping pills. It probably doesn't hurt much that way. I still want to think about it, but every day I am more and more convinced that there is no other way out of this mess for me.
Later, in school, Mr. Douglas made another dumb comment about me spacing out. It used to bother me a lot when he said those things in front of everyone, but the truth is that I don't even care what he says anymore. It doesn't even bother me when the kids laugh at me.
Nothing matters much to me anymore.
The funny thing was that I found myself wanting to be near Jenny today. Maybe it's because she was so nice to me the other day. When she hugged me then, I almost started crying. I couldn't believe that anyone even noticed how down I've been - or that anyone even cared about me.
This morning, I saw her watching me again during class, and I felt like maybe she's someone I could talk to about all this. Maybe she'd even understand.
Then after class , while everyone was getting ready to go to the lunchroom, I stood a few feet away from her and just waited to see if she would say anything. I didn't want to be the one to start, in case she had something important to do and didn't want me bothering her. But she came right over and put her arm around me and asked me if I wanted to talk.
I couldn't believe what happened next! I just burst out crying right there in front of the lockers! All the kids were standing around, but I couldn't stop crying, even though I knew they were all looking at me. I don't know why I did that. It was really weird - like someone else took over my body or something.
Then Jenny took my hand and pulled me into an empty classroom. She just sat there and listened while the whole story poured out of my mouth. She didn't even say a word when I told her how my folks hate each other and how I can't live with them fighting all the time.
I didn't plan on telling her that I've been thinking about taking pills, but in the end that came out too.
The whole time I was speaking, she just held my hand, and didn't say a word. It didn't even matter that I was kind of talking to myself.
I don't know what I expect Jenny to do about all this, why I even told her all this stuff. She's not some sort of fairy godmother who can make things all better. She's just a kid in my class.
But just knowing that someone was listening to me really made a difference. Even if she doesn't have any answers, for the first time I felt like someone cared about what's going on in my life, like I wasn't all alone with it anymore.
When the bell rang, I couldn't believe how much time had passed. I wasn't hungry even though we had both missed lunch. I felt bad for her though and said I was sorry, but she said it didn't matter, she wasn't hungry anyway.
Mostly what I felt then was really tired, kind of washed out, like I had just been through the washing machine, or wobbled off a roller coaster. But I also felt kind of relieved that I had finally talked to someone about my problems.
That terrible crushing feeling wasn't so bad anymore.
Before we finished, Jenny made me promise that I wouldn't take any pills - at least not without calling her first. I was so grateful for her help that I agreed. I guess it wouldn't be such a big deal to call her before I do it.
Then I wanted her to promise that she wouldn't repeat what I had told her. But she said she wanted my permission to tell someone who could help me. I got upset at that, because I don't think grownups can understand what a kid feels like in a case like this. But she said she would only talk to someone who was good at helping kids who are feeling down.
And now that I've had a chance to think about it, I realize that maybe that's not such a bad idea. I sure can't handle these feelings on my own.