JANUARY 20, 2014 - 11:56PM There was a story in the news today. A beautiful and popular 19 year old track star at UPenn who jumped to her death. Suicide. Case closed. The story haunts me, it hits too close to home. I was that girl at 19, I knew what it was like to be Maddy Holleran. The prodigy athlete, the star student, daddy’s little girl and mommy’s perfect angel. I was perfect for 18 years, 6,570 days, 157,680 hours, too many seconds. Too many seconds trying to be perfect for the team, for the teachers, for my parents, to get into a good school, to impress friends, perfect for everyone else but me. You see I didn’t want perfect I just didn’t want to fail people and with a give-it-your-all or give-it nothing-attitude, being perfect was the only option on the table. If i did something, I did it well. I was the best. I couldn’t be beat. Sacrifice yourself for the happiness of others, don’t show weakness, don’t let them know you’re not everything they make you out to be - don’t let them know you’re a fraud. A smile painted on the outside and a shattered heart on the inside. Haunted by a irrevocable darkness that would soon consume every ounce of my existence. Yes, after 18 years of pure perfection I could say the right things, laugh at the right time when it was needed. Except every time i did a piece of me died inside. I constantly gave everything of myself away to people and ended up with nothing left of me by the time I started college. 18 and 1/2 years old and I was no longer the best, the prettiest, the smartest. Acquaintances called themselves friends, friends turned into acquaintences. The pressure took its toll. From a 5:05 mile and the 10th at state to a lard on the treadmill, A’s in high school classes to D’s in college ones, most popular girl to one lost and without a voice hiding from the world in a dark room, pleading with God to make it better to cursing the mere idea of him. I lost everything I had known, I lost myself. The perfect child turned into everything she was trying to avoid for all those years. No one cares about you when you’re average. They want to know what went wrong because they can’t fathom how a girl like that went to being a girl like this, only to use it against you, to gain one up on you. An inconceivable fantasy turned into a reality, the winner of it all had finally lost. Age 19 and consumed by a darkness that I won’t ever forget even if I could. I remember what it was like wanting to jump, glaring over the edge longer than I should, examining parking garages the seldom times I showed my face to the world categorizing into ‘those high enough’ and ‘those that weren’t but maybe could do the job’ to ‘those that would never work’, listing the Golden Gate Bridge as #1 on my bucket list. “if i could just get there” i said, how peaceful that might be. There was nothing more than I ever wanted but out. Down for the count. I couldn’t stand it, couldn’t even bear to try. Sure the alcohol, pills and drugs gave the false illusion I could until they didn’t anymore. The therapy failed, the pills let me down, my family didn’t want to admit it and friends didn’t understand it enough to try. The prodigy child had turned into a disaster and there was nothing beautiful or poetic about it. The thought of dying hurt so much less than the pain of living. To live would mean to go to class, make good grades, be the all star athlete, go to therapy, show up to required meetings with head deans and presidents for a chance to beg them that i shouldn’t be kicked out of school, to explain myself-admit that i was wrong when every particle of me justified the cause believing i was right. I didn’t have the energy to beg, I showed up to therapy drunk, I took too many pills at one time, all the time. Former anorexic behaviors showed up due to me starving for any sort of life and the bulimic ones to try to expel the darkness that lived inside. I laughed off jail time twice and never cared to see my family or true friends who would still be there no matter what even though they begged for my presence. Rehab with a bunch of dumb fucks who couldn’t name more than three countries starting with a ‘B’ after that time i took 8 klonopin too many was also a fucking bust. I checked myself out 48 hours later convinced that I didn’t have it as bad as the people i met in there which was a lie i told myself because deep down something worse was lingering. Finally, something i was good at again, self-destruction at it’s finest and i ran with it. Depression is so god damn fucking selfish, like Elizabeth Wurtzel said in her critically acclaimed book ‘Prozac Nation’, ‘depression is all about if you loved me you would.’ But they didn’t, they fought me, so i said fuck them and went on my own way. For five god forsaken years I went alone. I hit rock bottom, only to come up and hit rock bottom again, suffocating under the weight of my own demise. I was six feet under already with no fight left in me, with the breath in my lungs shallow, and the beat of my heart exhausted from the toll i gave it in pleasing everyone else. Everything I had was already taken. The one person who I wanted to save me left me alone and it was only later that I would realize that I ruined the only thing that was certain to keep me breathing. So i thought about jumping, just like Maddy, because I knew how it felt, how it hurt to go on, how it cuts right to the bone when everyone finds out that you are no greater than them even though they once believed that you were. It’s science, you can only handle pressure so much until you can’t anymore, til it blows up in your face, leaving you to try and pick up the pieces from something you started even though every one else has been looking on. And it’s not like the crucifixion or anything of that nature where one is dying for another to save him but instead dying and hanging ourself to save the others from the pain we are certain we might bring them. Wanting to be dead, instead of wanting to be a let down and that is why it is considered a sickness. A mind fuck that says i’d rather be dead instead of being a failure, instead of disappointing you now, you would be better off living without me forever. So i took the pills and chased them with the bottle of vodka and I went to sleep with the only care in the world being that no one would wake me. I was ready, sure some people would be sad but the world would keep spinning and they would keep living because like they say, life doesn’t wait for anyone. They’d find the note if they looked hard enough, if they cared enough about me. I had enough of life and I stand firm in the belief that life had enough of me. I was too exhausting, too lackadaisical, too indecisive, too much of everything that I never wanted to be. The world had spit me out and threw me on the corner. Useless, worthless, and a big fucking mess had become attached to my name now instead of star, of promise, bright future ahead instead of once everything they wish they could have been. Would you like to know the reason why people stick their heads in the oven, fill their pockets with rocks with plans to wade in the ocean and never return to shore, slice their wrists with steak knives, and jump from a 10 story building to an inevitable doom, is because the thought of living one more day hurts more than the certain demise of each. Ah yes, a sudden relief. How good that must feel when hell is the only one lately to have been by your side. The extreme of death for someone so promising had transformed into a relief from life. Much like in Maddy’s case. Things for most will look perfect on the outside, especially if its expected from them but I promise you that for some it hurts more than hell on the inside. Please trust me and know that when she said she loved you, she meant it. When she ran a race and crossed the finish line, she crossed it with her heart, when she jumped that she knew you loved her enough to be with her on the other side, out of the darkness only so you could bask in the light with her. I am still trying to figure out how i got from 19-25 alive when all i felt like for 5 out of 6 years was something worse that I imagine death will be like. To me now death doesn’t scare me, the lack of time we all may have does. There is no magic cure, magic words you can give to save one from themselves, and now I can see that suicide is not beautiful. But there is relief in it, a sense of peace where the darkness can no longer haunt you and people can no longer take from you when you had already given your all. They may not understand how or why or when it got as bad as it did and there is no need to explain it to them. I’m still looking for answers and looking for ways to cope and be okay with the life I have been given but I can say the past six months have been the happiest of my life when I had been convinced that I was already six feet under. With my whole heart I wish Maddy would have stuck around longer to witness it. To know that it gets better and that being perfect is code for the fast track to downfall but that she is not alone. WIth this article, i hope more girls speak up to let others know that not feeling okay is okay and when you can’t see the daylight, the sun has a funny way of blinding you when it’s least expected. That i promise if you hold on when you can’t possibly any longer, something will be worth it. It may not happen right away, the next day, or the next week but it will happen when you’re not looking for it and it will take you by surprise. I have not been the perfect person that i once was for 7 years now but I am learning how to make the best of my flaws. My story comes to late to save Maddy and there are still major gaps that I haven’t filled in yet because I still can’t quite process them. But i will live with Maddy in my heart and when I am on a run I will remember her, a beautiful and brave soul who gave her best to everyone around her and everything she did, and maybe that is all we can ask for - that someone so special could have such an impact on those who knew her but also didn’t know her. Some will continue on the journey of life and some will be guiding us from heaven, we could fall into any category but at times it’s comforting, no matter what the circumstances are, to know that we don’t suffer alone.