Editor’s note: This story contains graphic detail about an attempted suicide. If this is a triggering subject for you, please make sure you are in a safe space and with people you trust before you begin reading.
March 14th, 2019. Lexy was already having a difficult day at school, being ignored and thoughts covered her mind. She got on the bus to go home when a girl said something that enraged her. She got up and yelled at the girl, only to be told to sit down and shoved into her seat by someone who she thought was her friend. Lexy sat alone in the window seat near the rear of the bus. Everyone on the bus ignored her the rest of the ride home.
Lexy Voyer graduated from U-32 in 2019. She experienced bullying, not only on the bus, but from fake friends and family members, and she struggled with mental illness. She has since begun recovery.
The bullying began at home, with her siblings and grandparents.
“They don’t treat me like their granddaughter,” she said. “They don’t treat me like I’m a human being.”
She was ridiculed, isolated and treated unfairly. The endless comments damaged Lexy’s self confidence.
Her school life was affected, and the bullying continued outside her home.
“I was bullied by someone who I thought was my friend,” Lexy remembers. “I was there for her through her hard times, meanwhile she pushed me away and started bullying me in my difficult times.”
Occasionally there was physical bullying throughout Lexy’s life. Being shoved around with no one to stand up for her.
“I felt so alone,” Lexy said.
The website Stop Bullying says that kids who are bullied are more likely to experience depression and anxiety. Resulting in unwanted thoughts, lack of interest, loneliness, and everyday patterns changing such as sleeping and eating. There is a strong link between bullying, thoughts of self harm, and even attempted or successful suicide.
When Lexy got off the bus that March day in 2019, she got in the shower and took a blade with her. She felt like a disappointment, like no one would care if she took that blade to her skin. So she did. She passed out in the tub and woke up there with blood on the outlines of the tub where the water couldn’t reach. She felt nothing, but she was alive.
Lexy was brought into her guidance counselors office after the incident, where he asked her how she was doing. He asked Lexy if she was going to go home and kill herself. Her answer every time was, “I don’t know.” In the back of her mind she knew that she had already attempted.
In the United States, suicides among all ages increased 33% from 1999 to 2017, from 10.5 to 14 suicides per 100,000 people. This increase caused suicide to become the second leading cause of death in ages 10 to 34.
About 4 weeks after Lexy’s talk with the guidance counselor, the counselor recommended a wellness check, a call with the police about her wellbeing. The checkup was over the phone by Lexy’s choice, and after many questions about her situation she was advised to go to the ER on April 9th, to talk about what was going on with therapists and other staff in the facility.
Lexy sought help, with the comfort of her friend encouraging her decision.
“I made the decision to be transferred to Brattleboro, with the help of my best friend,” she remembers. “I know it was far away and my friends couldn’t visit me, but it would be better [for me].”
The Brattleboro Retreat was founded in 1834 by Anna Hunt Marsh, who wished for a helpful place for those in challenging situations. Brattleboro Retreat nurses and therapists are trained to help treat many psychiatric and addiction disorders.
Sitting in the back of an ambulance, Lexy was on her road to recovery. But at that moment she felt this decision was a mistake; the fear of this life change was hitting her.
Over the days she stayed, the consciousness of others around her going through similar things helped Lexy feel less alone in her struggles.
She was released from Brattleboro Retreat after a week, with the feeling that she should have stayed longer. She did feel strong enough to use the techniques she had learned.
She took up writing about her life story in a small journal, titled Broken Beautifully. As she wrote about her past, it became clear what her traumas had caused. Lexy was having difficulty remembering them. She began to have difficulty sleeping. But as she progressed with her writing, Lexy was able to begin to move on from her trauma. Without a car, she rarely left the house, but she was starting to feel better.
Then Covid-19 came. Since the quarantine began, Lexy’s home life became more stressful. She had more anxiety from being home with her family members for an unknown period of time. Lexy stayed in her room most hours of the day.
“I wasn’t eating as much or doing a lot,” Lexy remembers. “[I felt] sad, depressed, lonely, and very anxious all the time.” The tension in the household caused Lexy’s anxiety and worry to increase, and eventually the tension built up and led to panic attacks.
According to Very Well Mind, in past virus quarantines, almost 29% of participants displayed PTSD symptoms, while 31.2% had depressive symptoms such as sadness, fear, stress, and more up to a month or longer after the virus was eliminated.
Lexy found ways of coping through the quarantine by going on walks, and being with friends safely for a day outside. This allowed her to feel calmer and got her away from her house.
One day, Lexy took out her makeup tools and spent almost three hours on her makeup. She did a zombie special effects look. The time taking her to do her makeup was a good relaxation technique and helped Lexy feel confident in herself, especially when she finished.
After Lexy completed the look she was proud of it. She walked out to show her grandmother, but instead of a validating response, her grandmother shunned the look.
“That was three hours wasted,” and told her she should’ve been looking for a job.
“At first I just laughed and rolled my eyes,” Lexy said. “But when I got back to my room I sat down and started to think about what she said.”
Sitting on her bed Lexy rested her head on her knees, breaking herself down, she wiped off as much makeup as she could and then stepped into the shower to clean off the rest.
When Lexy got out of the shower, she showed her friends pictures of her makeup look, and they told her they liked it. Lexy’s self esteem went up again, knowing that her grandmother’s opinion shouldn’t matter, knowing that her grandmother didn’t care about how Lexy felt. Lexy has given herself ways to rise above both of her grandparents’ negativity.
“I feel safer when my grandparents are gone,” Lexy said. “And leaving the house [is very helpful] for me.”
Makeup has been one way to increase her self confidence and also improve her skills. When her grandparents get to her, talking to friends and venting out her frustration and emotion helps her to balance.
Sometimes time alone can be helpful to think and balance herself out. Going on a walk and seeing nature in its natural beauty.
In the fall, Lexy noticed the leaves on a hike with her boyfriend. So bright and yellow, orange and red.
“On our way out I wanted to get some of the fallen leaves that were on the ground,” Lexy said.
Lexy hasn’t had much contact with her mom in the past, but in the months before Covid, every few weeks, Lexy had a day to visit her mom. Visiting her mom made Lexy feel much safer and happier in her environment.
“I look forward to when the virus is over,” Lexy said. “Being able to go and see my mom.” She still struggles with her memories, “but it’s getting better now.”
“I’ve thought about my struggles,” she said. “And it’s helping me move forward.”