In the past month, I’ve been called many things: victim, coward, unhappy, patient, client, friend, a work in progress, hurt, a lost cause, boozy, strong willed, stubborn. Regardless of what label or category I get placed in, I’m Emma Welling and this is what my life has been in the past month.
February 28th, 2017. At 11pm, I found myself with a knife in hand talking to a campus police officer on the phone. “Emma, can you put the knife down, please?”. I had made about a dozen cuts on my stomach by the time the officer got ahold of me. “We’re dispatching the local police to your location, just hold tight, okay?”
At 11:30pm, two Ottawa County Sheriff Deputies knocked on the door. They patted me down and asked me what was going on. “I didn’t want to live anymore” They told me if I cooperated and let them take me to the hospital, then they wouldn’t have to cuff me. I obliged and Deputy Tim escorted me to the back of his police car. He apologized that due to protocol I wasn’t allowed to sit up front—he kept repeating that I wasn’t in trouble and nothing was going on my record, but I did have to sit in the back.
At midnight, March 1st, I was admitted to Holland hospital. Once they escorted me to a room, I met with a doctor and a social worker. It was at that point that I revealed the main reason why I tried to end my life: “I was raped 3 days ago,” I mentioned how a friend and I had been drinking, this friend convinced me to drive us to some guys apartment; there were other people already there. Some guy I didn’t know brought me into a bedroom, locked the door, and wouldn’t take my simple “No” as an answer. He used me and hurt me, and my supposed friends in the other room didn’t do anything to stop it. That mixed with failing all my classes in college left me feeling so empty and alone.
I spent nine restless hours in a room at Holland Hospital, while security stood guard outside my door since I was on suicide watch. At 9am, a few paramedics, lifted me onto a stretcher and wheeled me into an ambulance—I was off to the psych unit at Pine Rest. On the ride over, a very kind paramedic named Ryan talked to me about the events that brought me up to this point. He told me his heart hurt to hear that I was raped, that his wife works with people who have been through things like that, so he knows just how rough it can be. He encouraged me and told me no matter what it’s not my fault and that I should seek justice someday—if not for me then for the other girls that person could end up hurting too.
Around 12:30pm, I was officially in my assigned unit at Pine Rest and admitted as a patient. I was given a tour—albeit short—and was told how the schedule would look. Starting at 8am until 9pm, there would be either a meal or some sort of group therapy meeting every hour. I was told I had to go to at least four meetings. I went to most of the sessions simply because there was nothing else to do in the unit except sleep.
I met some really cool people who were going through extremely tough things like myself. It felt good to open up and talk to people who really get it and who have a unique quality of empathy. I made great friendships in the unit and they’re ongoing support and comradery helped my stay there be even more beneficial.
Once leaving the unit, I decided that being in college wasn’t the best choice. My case manager worked with me to help get a medical withdrawal. As of now, I’m no longer a student in college. While our society tells us that college is the only avenue, I believe I will truly be able to find myself in these months that I am taking off from school. While I hope to keep myself busy, I also desire to truly figure out the path that I need to be on in life.
I write all of this down today for one main reason. It’s not for your sympathy or your attention. It’s not even for me to learn to be vulnerable, because I already learned how to do that well in the unit. No, I’m choosing to write all of this because it makes me a human. Sometimes when I read others writing, I can’t always relate on a personal level with the one who penned it. I may connect with what they wrote about, but feeling like you know the person is a whole different level. I want to achieve that here because I want my writing to come out as if you asked me out for coffee and these were my responses to a topic or situation.
I have a lot on my heart that I want to write about in the future on this site; however, it will only make sense and have the power to connect with you if you understand where life has brought me up to this point. My story is an integral part of my writing and more than anything, I want that conveyed.
So, this is me; this is where life has brought me in the past month; and this is what I will tap into going forth from here.