Victoria Caputo has been through a lot; bullying, gossiping, and the overall hostility of her middle school classmates, which led to bouts of depression, eating disorders, body dysmorphia, self-hatred, self-harm and a suicide attempt. On January 14th, 2013, Victoria tried to take her own life through a horrific car accident. In an accident that all officials labeled as “fatal”, a miracle happened, and Victoria somehow survived. After recovering from her many injuries, Victoria has worked hard every day to improve upon her mental health and way of thinking. with the help of hospitalization, therapy and luckily, a wonderful support system of family and friends. Since then, she has made it her mission to help those around her who are in similar situations.
While Victoria was a Sophomore at Sacred Heart University (SHU), she realized that there were no clubs dealing with Mental Health/Well-Being at the school, and nowhere for students to turn when they need-
ed a safe place where they could be heard. This was the beginning of her work with SHU’s very own chapter of ‘To Write Love On Her Arms’, a
non-profit organization that provides help, support and recovery to people struggling with addiction, depression, self-harm and suicide tendencies.
At the age of 22, Victoria became a published author of an auto-biographical/self-help book, Trust Me: Through the Eyes of a Survivor. This is her life on paper, all the experiences, emotions, illnesses,
and battles. The book also includes some of her victories over mental illness along with inspirational hope for those currently suffering from similar trials. Since her role as author, she has also become a motivational speaker to share her story and spread mental health awareness at schools, local events, radio and television. Her passion is to share her story with the expectation of helping those who find themselves in similar situation to from the anguish she has gone through.
For a 24-year old, Victoria’s insights and passion on this important topic are impressive and Victoria’s words bring hope that surely resonates with young adults. After everything she has been through and miraculously surviving her suicide attempt, Victoria has wondered why: why this all happened, and why she survived, and she has come to realize that this is it: to make a difference and change the world Victoria firmly believes that her purpose on this Earth is to help people realize that they are not alone and that they can overcome anything.
If you ask people what their least favorite part of school was, I am willing to guess that the majority would say middle school. Seventh grade; that’s when my life started to change. I moved from Port Chester, New York to Greenwich, Connecticut in elementary school, and the first few years there were okay, but then seventh grade hit and it all went downhill. It started with bullying. A rumor went around the school about me, something stupid that middle schoolers thought was a big deal, and nobody could be associated with me. The friends that I had made over the years were gone in a second, afraid that being seen with me would make them a target for bullies. Not only that, but I felt like a complete outcast at home. I was and always have been the black sheep of my family. My parent’s didn’t really understand mental illness having never experienced it or having known someone who had experienced it. My father worked constantly so we weren’t on that deep level given the fact that he wasn’t home all that often. My sister and I were complete opposites; she was the one with all the friends, involved in everything at school and an outgoing personality. My mother and I had our good moments, but I didn’t feel that comfortable talking to her about this stuff at the time. I had no friends at school, nobody at home I felt connected with, and no one to talk to.
The rumor spiraled even more bullying, and not only did I become depressed, but my self-esteem took a major hit as well. I was called every name in the book, and the one that stuck with me the most was being called fat. No matter what I wore or how hard I tried, I was always the fat kid. The fat girl whom no guy wanted to date and no girl wanted to befriend. It’s amazing how lonely someone could be, especially a person suffering with depression. In high school, there were almost 3,000 students, yet even surrounded by all those faces, I felt completely and utterly alone. It got so bad that I actually developed an eating disorder. After eating something, no matter what it was, I would feel disgusted with myself. I felt like I was so fat that I shouldn’t be and didn’t need to be eating, so when I was done, I would go to the bathroom and make myself throw up before the food could be fully digested. In seventh grade I was diagnosed with clinical depressive disorder.
The diagnosis came from a therapist I was forced to see by my parents, and let’s just say, that didn’t last long; I wouldn’t allow it. I couldn’t handle it and frankly, I didn’t want the help from a complete stranger. After that, I began to hate myself more and more everyday, which led me to eventually engage in self-harm. I would cut three to four times a day, either on my leg or my wrist. This behavior lasted for a few years before I realized cutting wasn’t enough anymore. During my senior year of high school, I realized that nothing was going to change and I knew what I had to do. On January 14th, 2013, I decided to try and take my own life. After a brutal car accident, I somehow made it out alive and things only got worse. After being released from suicide watch, I was forced into an intensive outpatient program. I was forced yet again to have a therapist, a psychologist, and weeks of group therapy and activities. And that wasn’t even the hardest part. I was forced to face the questions and comments from my family and peers as well as continue to deal with my own battles inside my head. I did not think I was going to survive it.
Since all of these things happened, time has only led more hardship. I experienced sexual abuse in college and before that, was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. People say things get better with time, but for me, that wasn't the case at all.
I frequently wonder who or what had cursed my life to be this way. To this day, I wonder what makes me less deserving of a life where I value my time and actually want it. Why God chose to bestow these issues upon me. There have been moments where I wanted my time to be completely up; even now, those thoughts cross my mind. I constantly question my life. When all I want to do is die, what keeps me living? When all I want to do is give up, what keeps me going? So far, it’s hope. Hope that time will pick up sometime soon. Without the curiosity of what life has in store for me, I wouldn’t have made it this far. I know my depression won’t just go away, but hopefully this unfortunate time I’ve been stuck enduring for some time now ends up being worthwhile.
Yet, this time has left me with voids and loneliness I never expected to be faced with, especially at such a young age. It’s easier than it should be to feel this way. The loneliness. The depression. The self-hatred. The emptiness. With cursed time and easy loneliness, these disturbing emotions find their way in that much faster, and trust me, it’s powerful. They festered inside of me for so many years now. They are demons that are truly difficult to take down. Trust me.
So why trust me?
Because this is me.
This is my life.
These mental illnesses and day-to-day struggles are obstacles that I deal with on a daily basis. People will offer you advice, but that’s not the same as when it’s coming from someone who’s living with it. If you can’t trust someone who is going through it, then who can you trust?
The experiences I’ve been through are ones that I would never wish on my worst enemy; therefore, I want to help. I almost let my depression, the cutting, my poor self-esteem and the eating disorders kill me, but somehow I survived.
I can’t say for certain how I really did it, but I want to be living proof that anyone can overcome any challenge, no matter how impossible it may seem.
This is a video I had to make for an application in college which shares my story with mental illness and a suicide attempt. Please give it a listen if you are interested to know more about me. Caution: graphic content