My name is Ruby Manning.
I have suffered from anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember. The first time I cut myself was with a pair of (to my frustration) blunt scissors that didn’t really get me anywhere.
The next time was with a razor blade. I still have the scars on my ankles and thighs today; almost 8 years later.
When I was 16 I fell in love with my best friend who was closer to me than a sister. For the sake of the story let’s call her Jane. It messed me up, I had all these thoughts spiraling through my head…
I…I can’t be…
My family is very religious and so are many of my friends, I was forced to keep my feelings a secret because I thought it was evil and wrong.
She would tell me about all the things she did with boys; and as a result I begun to punish myself for envying those boys. Wishing that I could be the one to kiss her, to hold her close to me … I wished I didn’t feel the way I did.
The cuts spread from being in remote places to closer to the veins on my wrists and even my hands. In hindsight, I suppose it was a subconscious way of crying for help, hoping that someone would notice the scars and ask me if I was okay. No one did, of course. Not until my secret got out.
I was drunk with a classmate and I was having a fight with Jane. I began crying uncontrollably, I couldn’t hide it anymore. And the rest of that night consisted of nauseating tears streaming down my face as I confessed that I, a girl, was in love with my best friend. I honestly thought my classmate was going to keep my secret. But she didn’t; and it was only recently that I discovered she was calling me a “confused little puppy” behind my back.
I eventually told Jane how I felt and she told me she loved me but not in that way. Afew weeks later Jane started dating my closest male friend, Kyle. They both knew how I felt and still went along with it, he didn’t care how much it broke me. As people started to see through my indifferent charade and began to suspect that I was gay they began to drop me like I meant nothing to them. To top it off my family was in a financial rut and we were struggling to pay school fees which added more pressure onto us as the school wasn’t being very understanding.
I remember seeing my ex friends eyeing me in the hallways; sometimes when I couldn’t handle sitting at a desk staring out of a window trying to keep my thoughts from drifting back to her I would lock myself up in the bathroom and sob. I remember when my oldest friend dropped me when I was at a family function. At the same time Jane told me she and Kyle had had oral sex. It broke what I had left of a heart into pieces.
I ripped off my angel wing necklace and attempted to slice my veins open. I didn’t get very far. I gave up and decided to drink my sorrows away. “If you see me without a drink in my hand, fill my glass.” I told the bar tender at the function and he spent the night handing me drinks left right and centre, I have no idea what I was drinking but I wound up on the floor at the entrance to the venue curled up in a fetal position; crying out in pain. Not from the alcohol; but from feeling betrayed by everyone who mattered to me. That was when I met my psychologist. She got me through that night; she stopped me from doing any more damage to my body.
After that night my mom sent me to the psychologist every week. I began to open up to my family again and my mom told me she always knew about my feelings. She said that mothers know things. She told me it was okay and that she loves me no matter what.
Soon after Jane and I fell apart and were no longer sisters. We slowly became strangers, and as I felt it happening I felt more and more helpless… I was holding on so tightly to someone who was already gone. I stopped eating and developed insomnia. I felt like I’d be happier if I was dead.
I remember staring at the blue walls in my room, and as if some outside force was telling me to do it, gripped the closest thing to a rope I had – a piece o0f denim material – and wrapped it around my neck. I felt the oxygen leaving me, and for the first time in a long time I felt euphoric! I felt like I was soaring, flying away from this wreck of an existence. But it was over all to soon as I fell to the ground, coughing uncontrollably. I inhaled a slither of air and I choked on it. As I lay on the ground losing consciousness I told myself it would be over soon… I would be gone. But I woke up hours later. I guess strangling myself wasn’t going to work. I kept the event to myself, I never told a soul.
The next few months were an abyss of bitter darkness. I began to have breakdowns and panic attacks. I became best friends with Nicky who was the only friend I had left. We began to experiment with drugs, mainly just weed in the vacant domestic quarters in Nicky’s house. A few joints turned into grams and grams of bongs a day. Any money we got we’d spend it on weed. I didn’t realize it then but our relationship was based on substances, not substance. I met my boyfriend Mendy when I was working at the same company as him during my gap between matric and college. I didn’t know it then but he became the person who saved me from myself.
Because of all the anxiety and panic attacks I developed pseudoseizures; seizures brought on from severe anxiety, instead of displaying itself in the form of a nervous breakdown I would have seizures. I have been in and out of hospital since last November. The doctors say the seizures are a delayed reaction due to the fact that I was hiding my emotions and tears for years. After my first attack, Nicky was gone.
Even though Nicky was gone, Mendy was still there; and he has been there from the time we met until now. He showed me that love wasn’t about genitalia but about the person inside. I learned that it was natural and often it happened that girls – and boys – fall in love with their best friend. It didn’t make them gay; only deeply emotionally connected. No matter how cliché it sounds, he has saved me from myself.
Mendy has helped me through everything, from the drugs to the tears and depression and the mourning over losing my best friend. He understands how it feels to have your heart crushed because he has been broken too. He’s been with me every step of the way through my numerous hospitalizations and attacks. Even though we are still struggling to find a way to control my seizures; for the first time in a long time I feel loved. I feel that I can get through this.
I don’t want to die anymore. I realize now that my family will accept me no matter whom or what I am or what I do. I know now that the people who matter are the ones who are standing at the side of my hospital bed.
My story isn’t over yet. And I don’t want it to be.