Oliver "The Road To Self Love"

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Randy Bacon with 7 Billion Ones in partnership with National Alliance on Mental Illness Southwest Missouri (NAMI) are proud to announce a major, multifaceted portrait art exhibition, story and short film series:

It Knows No Face

Portraits of Suicide Survivors.

Learn more HERE

Oliver’s Story:

Photography by    Randy Bacon

Photography by Randy Bacon

I was born July 5, 2002 under the name “Abbi Grayce”. My childhood is a blur, but I know there were good times and bad times just like everyone else. I also found that I was different from most kids and found myself often confused by others, and even by myself. In seventh grade I realized I was queer and went under the title of pansexual. Later, I kept discovering more and more about myself and finally understood that I am transgender. From there, I gave myself a new, preferred name: Oliver. It fits me incredibly well, and when I wear it I feel confident and happy. As time went by, hearing my given name and seeing my biological anatomy became more and more aggregating. I grew helpless, hopeless, and utterly restless with myself. In this period of my life, I was growing, but I was also struggling with depression, self-depreciation, and extreme suicidal tendencies to the point where I almost took my life.

As I continued to grow, I made bad choices and distanced myself from friends and family, scared to get too close to anyone. I made mistakes and hurt people I cared about. Sophomore year was difficult, but it was also a time of growth and discovery once again. I made and lost friends and became closer with many people. I was able to get rid of toxicity in my life and focus on positives. But sadly, these positives couldn’t last me as long as I needed them to. I became suicidal again with high anxiety and depression and needed to go to a psychiatric hospital.

I’ve been suicidal for a very long time. I had attempted suicide when I was in the eighth grade, but ultimately backed out. Ever since then, I knew I had the power to go through with a plan whenever I wanted to. But the thought of actually dying threw me off a little. It’s not that I’m scared to die, but the thought of forever, ceasing existence, or an afterlife frightens me too much. Although I have this fear of death, that doesn’t stop the need to make the pain stop, which is what brought me to a hospital in the first place. I had been extremely depressed for a few weeks and I felt like no one cared or wanted me around. I was paranoid and wanted to get out of all the bad thoughts. This buildup of emotions led me down a terrible path.

On April 28th, 2018 at 3:12am, I messaged the people closest to me and told them how much they mean to me. Around 3am, I promptly began to swallow sleeping pills, cut myself, and eventually try to hang myself. With each of these methods failing, I gave up soon enough after I decided that I lacked the supplies. I told myself that in the morning I would look for rope or cords to make a noose out of; then I tried to sleep. The next day I awoke to arguing, loud voices and a cop at the foot of my bed (I later found out my friends were scared I actually died from my lack of response and created group chats to see what to do for me; the final decision led to one of my friends calling “911” and getting me much-needed help). My friend that had made the call and my guardians began to ask me questions. The officer asked me to go to a mental institution and went on his way. That evening was full of long phone conversations and questions and deciding how to deal with it all. I wasn’t allowed to sleep downstairs that night for the fear that I would do something bad. The next morning, we decided that I needed to go to a hospital.

When I got out of the ward, I was greeted with love and support, medication and genuine, real happiness. Of course, my mental illnesses didn’t just fade away; I’ve had good news and bad news since then, but I’m still dealing with it all and using coping mechanisms. I’m learning how to love myself again, and, I’m ready to move to a new state and meet more people. I’ve accepted that I’m likeable. If I was able to make friends in a big, scary hospital, I’ll be fine in meeting new people in the real world. I’m not “fixed”, but I’m getting there. I’m so deeply thankful for my loving family and for the friends I made who kept me wonderful company and kept me going, along with my beautiful friends who helped me get to the hospital in the first place that love and care for me so much. I’m on the road to self-love and I’m ready to accept the challenges life throws at me. I’m doing so much better and I can only hope it goes up from here.

Brought to you in partnership with:

7Billion Ones, Annie Busch, NAMI Southwest Missouri, and Touchstone Counseling