When I was 14, I thought about killing myself a lot. I’m not sure I ever had a definitive plan to actively do so, but I fantasized about my own death the way I fantasized about knowing what a boy’s lips tasted and felt like.

I toyed with the idea in my mind, flirted with it and imagined the sweet relief of a final and permanent absence of pain. Everything inside of me ached, and I wounded the outside of me just to see the ache materialized in something other than an invisible crushing weight.

The only thing I knew was pain, self-disgust and a constant awareness of inadequacy. Every single part of my body and mind felt wrong and as an aberration of existence. My dark body hair, my excruciating periods, my strong facial features, my anxiety and depressive tendencies and even my intellectual singularity and hyper awareness of myself and the world, all felt like a burden it was not fair I had to carry, it was not fair I had to live with, while everyone else seemed to effortlessly live, have friends, have lovers, have fun.

I used a box cutter to etch my feelings on my skin, I spat out names at my reflection in the mirror and almost searched for reasons to hate myself even more, to at least have actual palpable motives to loathe myself as much I did. I held on to my self-hatred as if it was the only anchor I had left tying me to this world.

I looked down on the 10 meter drop from my bedroom window and imagined my lifeless body lying on the tar, bloody and still. I obsessively focused on the peace I assumed I’d find at the end of that drop, at the end my consciousness.

It’s strange; I have feared death as an inevitable fate that awaits us all since I was a young girl and, paradoxically, it was the only thing I thought could ever bring me peace. When I was 14.

I survived. To this day I’m not sure how, but I found a way to grow out of that pain, and let it blossom me into a person that I truly, wholesomely love. Despite the flaws and mistakes and the everythings that I was told not to be or not to do.

I made myself into the person I am today. I repeat that on my own when I’m feeling like a fraud or a coward. Do you fucking hear me? I MADE myself into the person I am today. I constructed and reinvented myself from the inside out until my actions and my words and my confidence matched what I always knew I was meant to be. And I did it by myself, for myself, with myself.

I’m not 14 anymore. I’m still scared and overwhelmed at times, but I don’t want to die anymore. And as little of an achievement as that may seem, I am unconditionally proud of it.

Diana Cavadas