I’ve lived a good life. A really, really good life. To say I’ve been blessed would be an understatement. I went to a private school, live in a big house, have traveled tons, studied abroad, have lots of friends, and have a huge family. But to tell you my life has been all great would be a lie. I’ve also struggled with crippling anxiety, depression that tried to end my life, an eating disorder, drug addiction, far too much grief, divorce, and so much heartbreak. But hey, I’m here and I’m living despite it all, right?
Let me start from the beginning. Date: May 29th, 1997. The day my life began. Place: Omaha, Nebraska. The place I would call home for a mere two weeks of my life. My mom, dad, and I then made the journey back to Lakewood, Washington where I’d spend my childhood growing up in a neighborhood full of friends my age, with a big backyard, at a school I loved, and with both sets of grandparents right down the road. My days as an only child were filled with daily visits with my grandparents, hanging out with my best friend Morgan, and getting loved on by the two greatest parents in the world. June 29th, 2000 was hands down the best day of my life. That day I gained not only two baby sisters, but best friends. We had the perfect little family, until suddenly we didn’t. Somewhere between the ages of 3 and 7 I felt my first real sting of heartbreak. My parents got divorced, my dad started dating someone new, and it was suddenly just us girls. I was 8 years old when I remember noticing that I wasn’t like most of the kids around me. I was quiet, didn’t really like hanging out with anybody my age, and found the seemingly simple tasks to be dauntingly difficult. Everybody labeled me as “shy,” not knowing that there was really something much deeper going on. That’s when I heard the word “anxiety” for the first time. I was also 8 years old when my dad and new stepmom, Cheryl, blessed me with a baby brother. Two years later they brought another baby into the world. In 4th grade I was switched from a public school where I was comfortable to a private school where I had never felt more out of place. For a “normal” kid, that switch may have been a walk in the park, for me, it was earth shattering. I spent the next two years of elementary school just trying to feel like I fit in. My mom eventually met the man of her dreams and married him, giving me the big sister I had always wanted. We moved to Gig Harbor, and life was so good but so different.
Quiet, shy, and full of anxiety: not easy labels for any middle schooler. I spent the majority of my time trying to fit in. I started going to youth group on Wednesday’s, forced myself to hangout with people, and even tried out for the cheer squad at my school. But each day was an internal battle no one knew anything about. I spent a lot of time at church, trying to find myself through Jesus. Going back and forth between my mom’s house and my dad’s house left me wondering why my family had to be a part of the divorce world. I was in middle school, and had so many questions about life already.
What a blur. Same school, same friends, same anxiety, same old same old. High school was the same, but also full of firsts. My first kiss, my first real relationship, my first sip of alcohol, my first job, my first horrible thought about my body, and my first major sign of depression. I was still a cheerleader until my anxiety made it too difficult. I attended youth group until my junior year and became quite involved in the church, actually wanting to be there. My teachers were my closest friends, and they really poured everything they had into me. My grades were decent, my home life was good, and life seemed to be going pretty well. Junior year was when shit hit the fan for me. It’s when I really started hating the way I looked. It’s when I started eating less, but not enough for anyone to actually notice. It’s when I was diagnosed with depression. Everyday was a battle for me. Then came senior year. A new girl, Cali, came to my school. We instantly became best friends. We spent every single day together, and then she even moved in with my family. Every night was a party, quite literally. It was with her that I took my first bong rip, went to my first real party, and experienced first hand what loving an addict was like. She moved out to go to rehab, blamed me, and made my life a living hell. But she was still my best friend. A bad breakup with the first guy I ever loved, a best friend who was hurting so badly, trouble at home, anxiety beyond belief, depression, and an unnoticed eating disorder. I felt trapped in my own body. It was then, a month before graduation, that I attempted suicide for the first time. Two deep cuts on my left arm because I thought there was no other way out of the pain I was feeling. A little time off from life and I was okay. Don’t get me wrong, high school wasn’t all bad. It was also filled with lots of laughs, vacations, cruises, new family members, and so much more. Sometimes I lose sight of the good stuff, although I try my best not to. Cali and I walked together at graduation and just like that high school was over. Thank God.
Western Washington University. The greatest nine months of my life. I finally felt like I fit in. My roommate, Emma, was the best roommate I ever could have asked for. We instantly clicked, and everything seemed to be going perfectly. Our pseudo roommate and best friend, Katie, made everything hilarious, wild, and an adventure. I loved my life for the first time in a really long time. I then got kidney stones (yuck), and after a lot of thought had to move home from college. Why me? When I was finally happy, why? I spent a couple months doing nothing but pitying myself. I didn’t know what my purpose was anymore. After being called a “college dropout” one too many times I attended an information session for an Interior Design program at Clover Park Technical College. I registered that day and started classes a week later. For the first time in my life I was top of my class and thriving. The program was hard, don’t get me wrong, but everything seemed to come so naturally to me. I moved in with my grandma and grandpa so I could be closer to school, and also because they are the two most important people in the world to me and I didn’t want to miss out on a single minute. I landed an internship in Las Vegas, and was having the time of my life. I was even given the opportunity to study abroad in Paris a year into my program. My first thought was, “hell no.” Then I brought up the idea to my Omi, and without question that next September I was on my way to Paris. Little did I know that I would have to say my final goodbye to her the day before I flew out, her passing away a week into my trip. This trip was the greatest experience of my entire life. I fell in love with the city, people, and food of Paris. It was also the hardest trip of my entire life. On my third day there I got a message and all it read was, “Hey, Cali died and I thought you would want to know.” My best friend in the entire world, gone from addiction, just like that. And that is where my journey with grief began. I came back from Paris, sat through both my best friend and my Omi’s funerals, and felt so lost. Upon returning was when I had my first personal encounter with drugs. A one time thing quickly turned into an addiction. My life was spiraling out of control. I wanted to give up so badly on school as I could not quite seem to get my head out of the dark cloud it was in. But I powered through with the help of my friends and teachers, and finished Design school this past March. Life is full of surprises, roll with them.
Life since finishing school has been nothing short of crazy. My life quickly became consumed by drugs. Using became a daily thing, the only thing that seemed to numb all my pain. I quit my job, lost all my friends, stopped going to church, and was struggling to get through each day. February rolled around and I lost the most important man in the world to me, my grandpa. I spiraled after that. I was numb to the world, losing my best friend, Omi, and Grandpa all within a few months of each other. Everything got so bad that I attempted suicide a second time, landing me at St. Joseph Hospital. Life was hard. So unbelievably hard. Then it got okay for a little bit. Then it got bad again. I had zero intention of telling anyone about my addiction, until it was almost to late. It was May and I found myself laying on my living room floor unable to move, freezing, and shaking uncontrollably. I pretty much just accepted that that was how I was going to die, laid down in front of the fireplace, and waited for somebody to find me. My stepdad, who works from home, finally came into the house. Through tears and a locked jaw all I could mutter was, “I’m addicted to (insert drug name discussed in a later post here).” Words that would change my life, and my families lives, forever. He took me to the hospital where they quickly admitted me and diagnosed me with cotton fever. I stayed two days and was then given two options: go home or go to rehab. Neither sounded good, but home sounded worse at the time. I was admitted to Fairfax Behavioral Health’s detox unit and didn’t get out until the day before my 21st birthday. My world was crumbling. I was forced (kind of) into going to therapy and seeing a psychiatrist, who put me on all sorts of medications. My therapist is my new favorite person (hi, E, thanks for making my life so much better), and I see her twice a week willingly. I must admit sometimes it makes me sad that she is my therapist because I really just want her to be my friend. I have now been clean 153 days, and I have never been more proud of myself. I started dating an amazing guy, and although we didn’t work out he is still one of my closest friends. I’ve made tons of new friends (special shoutout to you, H, thanks for reading. You’ve made my life better than I’ve ever imagined. Thanks for being you, and for letting me be me). I even got a job as a waitress/bartender that I LOVE. Life is good. And then it’s hard. And then it’s good again. Hold on, pain ends.
This is my crazy life, welcome to it.
Hannah Jennie Elliott-Green.
Just us girls.
Our blended family.
Life Christian Academy Cheerleader.
Cali and I at graduation.
21 years old.