Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace

Dani Weathers - Columbus, Ohio
As heard on The Bob Edwards Show, October 7, 2011
Dani Weathers

Struggling to cope with her father’s untimely death, Dani Weathers began secretly cutting herself. She hoped the physical pain would ease her grief. But Weathers now believes talking openly about her anguish and addiction will help free her from them.

Age Group: 18 - 30
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When my dad died, we weren’t there to say good-bye. He was alone on a Colorado road riding that stupid motorcycle he just had to have. When he died, I felt like I died, too.

I was diagnosed with manic depression and post-traumatic stress disorder shortly after my dad died on August 6, 2006, hit by a woman in a car. His death left me numb and empty. Desperate to feel something—to feel anything—I resorted to cutting myself. I thought if I could feel the pain of sharp objects digging into my skin, then I was still alive. Soon I was addicted to self-injury.

My depression and my cutting became too much for what was left of my family. My mother and brother seemed too distant to save me from my misery. We became strangers in the house we’d lived in since I was eight. I came to hate them, and in hating them, I felt more alone than before. My cutting grew more frequent.

Eventually, I felt scared of the person I had become; I didn’t want to cut anymore, but I was terrified of what would happen if I didn’t. The people closest to me were weary of my ongoing battles, too. At one point, a former boyfriend shouted at me, “It happened four years ago! Get over it already! Just move on!”

His words stunned me like a slap in the face, stopping me from grabbing anything sharp. Although I disagreed that I should “get over” my father’s death, I realized I couldn’t continue to let cutting and depression control my life. After all, Dad wouldn’t want me to hurt myself this way. I also saw how unfair it was to depend on my incredibly patient friends to clean up my messes. After years of trying to mend my grief by cutting, I was finally ready for the real process of healing to begin.

It hasn’t been easy to share my tale. When people hear about my depression, they pity me or, worse, think I’m crazy. But what would remaining quiet achieve? My silence won’t heal my wounds—in fact, it nearly cost me the last bit of life I kept buried under my pain and loss.

So I say to the world, I have depression, and I am a recovering cutter. I believe I am worth something, and I don’t want to fear what other people think of me. I want to live another day, because I believe that this scary, horrible, and yet awesome world is worth fighting for. My visible and invisible wounds are signs of my strength and the trials I’ve struggled to survive. And I hope that by telling my story I can help other people who share this addiction.

Today, my smiles are sincere, my laughs genuine. Today I am a new girl, a phoenix reborn from the ashes of all of the tragedy and struggle that had been my life. Today I believe I am alive.

And Dad, wherever you are now, know that I love you.

Dani Weathers is a charismatic human specimen, but she still has demons of her own. She is a sophomore studying English at Ohio State University. Ms. Weathers aspires to be a future teen fiction author, but for now she is content with learning to reenjoy life with her friends, family, and her four wonderful cats.