I knew Macy as a short girl with pink hair and the biggest, goofiest smile ever seen. I met her at a game of Monopoly that my roommates organized with other girls on our dorm room floor. We instantly clicked and, soon after, she introduced me to her group of friends.
They just so happened to consist of the most maladjusted people I’d ever come to know.
Natalie, a pothead who stole from her rich father, Jack, a 22-year-old who was failing every class (also a pothead), and Wilson, a 25-year-old undergrad living off student aid funds.
During the first two years of college, the five of us became very close. I helped Macy cope with her first break-up until she started dating Jack and she began a new tumultuous relationship. When Jack cried about his father leaving him, when Natalie dropped out of school and when Wilson told me he was seeing a psychiatrist. I saw all the little orange bottles hidden in knapsacks or behind the black-out curtains in their dorm rooms.
One morning, at 3 a.m., I received a call from Macy.
I could tell she was outside; horns were honking in the background. In tearful gasps, she relayed to me what was happening: “Jack kicked me out… we got into a fight and he kicked me out… he doesn’t love me anymore… No, I know he doesn’t love me anymore.” I asked where she was and she told me she was on her way to CVS to buy razors. I heard the automatic doors slide open. “What? No, stop!” I clutched the phone, sitting all the way up in bed. “No, I’m going to do it! It’s okay, I’ve done it a million times before. It’s not a big deal, it makes me feel better, don’t worry,” she said.
She hung up the phone, but I couldn’t just go back to sleep. I got dressed, walked about a mile to the CVS and found Macy wandering the isles clinging onto a package of razor blades. I took the razors, placed them on top of some Kleenex boxes, grabbed her hand tightly and rushed past the automatic doors. We sat on the curb and I watched her struggle to breathe as she cried. It all felt so silly to me, getting this way over a boy.
She opened up to me on that curb.
I saw her red eyes against the store lights and I learned things about her that I never would have believed from that bright, ever-present smile I came to know so well. I learned that her father and brother were clinically depressed, and for years she felt depressed and alone herself living with them. She tried to kill herself during the summer, but something told her to wait for this new chapter. She believed that Jack was what she was waiting for.
“I can’t sleep alone, I’m afraid I’m going to want to kill myself again,” she said. So, I helped her up and gave her all the words of encouragement I could and that night we shared my twin-sized bed and barely slept a wink. I tried to find a way to tell her that she should never rely on someone else for her happiness, and she agreed. But sure enough, her and Jack made up the next day and it was business as usual. “I’m so dramatic, aren’t I? It’s okay, he apologized. Come to the dining hall with us!” she smiled brightly once again.
I couldn’t say that it surprised me, but I felt powerless.
It was her life, her decision. Who was I to get in between? Who was I to know what was good for her? She’d become so dependent on Jack for comfort, would it really benefit her to be without him? She seemed back to normal, so I left it alone. But I now knew about the time bomb ticking away inside her.
Over the course of my two-year-long friendship with these characters, I came to know more of the torment that lives in other people’s minds from unidyllic past experiences and how it came to transform their reality.
Soon, their inability to maintain good relationships got the best of me, and I found myself falling into their unhealthy lifestyles. I lie in bed feeling like there was a heavy rock there, I ate until I made myself sick, I cried more than I ever cried and I smoked to dull the pain. But I possessed something that they didn’t — a supportive family, a safe home, and good friends from childhood that, despite not being there on campus, would check up on me often.
The majority of us are struggling with unhealthy thoughts and accompanying coping mechanisms.
Feelings of loneliness and helplessness, are inevitable in a college setting as we engage with adulthood. I took a look at the people I surrounded myself with and made the difficult decision to leave them behind to preserve my own wellbeing. As I became more educated in the mental health field through my studies and working on my own issues, I came to understand how essential it is to have someone to listen and support you in everyday life. I still receive messages from Macy, especially on days when she feels she’s not doing so well. I always lend an ear on the curbside outside CVS or wherever it may be.