One Student's Story this Suicide Prevention Week: I'm not okay, but one day I will be.

"The first step is to realize that you're not alone. That you're not okay. But I say with confidence, that one day I will be." (Ruohan Li/The Daily Campus)

It’s okay. Everything is going to be okay.

All my life I’ve been told that everything is okay. Everything is going to be okay. When I got a bad grade or when I was upset for some reason everyone always told me that it was okay. But whenever I was told that, I would think “Why don't they understand that it’s not okay. This battle going on in my head is not okay.” It was an endless cycle of frustration.

But it was okay.

All my life perfectionism has eaten me alive. I strived to be the girl with perfect grades, the perfect athlete, with the perfect figure and the perfect life. It ate me alive.

But it was okay.

My life was a game of numbers, every point I got off on a test was 100 less calories I allotted myself to eat that day. I kept a book simply consisting of tally marks, documenting the amount of times I allowed myself to eat, to purge and to run. My head was a storm of numbers. I put on this act of perfectionism everyday and cried myself to sleep every night.

But everything was okay.

I didn't understand that it wasn’t. My bulimia proceeded to take over my life, but no one could tell, not even me. My first trip to residential treatment occurred my sophomore year of high school. I didn't know I was bulimic. My parents found me laying on my bathroom floor one night, after panicking from not running enough miles, and getting a 92 on a test (which was failing in my mind). Concerned, they brought me to the emergency room, where I proceeded to spend weeks in a hospital bed, being fed by nothing but an IV, refusing to even let doctors run tests on my stomach because it meant consuming food. From there, I was transferred to an eating disorder unit, paralyzed with fear. I looked around thinking I didn't belong because I wasn't nearly as thin as the girls around me. I didn't allow myself to accept recovery because I told myself that I didn't belong there.

But everything was okay.

I attended the day program for months, spending my junior year of high school in a hospital. I would be forced to eat and then sneak off to the bathroom to vomit until my stomach was empty. No one knew. I didn't look sick, so they thought I was okay.

Everyone told me I wasn't thin enough to be there, so I left.

Less than a year later I found myself back writing numbers down in my little book, not even allowing myself to hold down little things like coffee or a tic tac. I then found myself back trapped in a hospital room. This time I complied, I knew I had an eating disorder.

But it was okay.

It was okay until the police found me at the top of a parking garage one night, shaking. I was transported to a hospital, and immediately discharged, because I was okay. I still got a 4.0 and ran about 15 miles a day, but I still felt as though someone was controlling my mind and my body. It was okay until six months later I woke up in an emergency room after overdosing on antidepressants. It was okay until I found myself complying with an abusive relationship, not knowing I didn’t deserve to be in it.

But everything was okay.

After two visits to residential eating disorder treatment and two failed suicide attempts, I began to realize that there was some truth to that nagging expression everyone used to tell me. What I realized is that everything is okay... until it’s not okay. The way I treated my body was okay until I found myself passed out on my bathroom floor after forcing myself to vomit for the twentieth time that day. It was okay until I felt dizzy and looked down to find my wrists covered in blood from my own cuts.

I’m not recovered, you should know this, but one day I will be. I’m not embarrassed because I know I’m not alone.

My mind is still a game of numbers and everyday is a battle. It’s okay to lose some days. You can lose a battle and still win the war.

The first step is to realize that you're not alone. That you're not okay. But I say with confidence, that one day I will be.

Julia Saltsman is a contributor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at