Abbigail Buttars: Ending the Silence
When her mom walked in the kitchen, she found Abbigail holding the knife up to her neck, ready to take her life.
Her mom immediately grabbed the knife and realized her daughter was having a seizure, which caused her to stare nowhere and not remember what had happened.
Abbigail Buttars had been diagnosed with ADHD, a learning disability and a seizure disorder.
For most of her life, she had participated in special education classes, but when she got to high school, she noticed people treating her different – including her teachers.
“I was getting bullied and being made fun of,” Buttars said. “I started to feel isolated in the environment that I was in because no one really wanted to be my friend, no one really wanted to be around me.”
She had no desire to leave the house.
“There … (were) days that I just had to stay home just so that I didn’t have to deal with that at school, and my mom could help take care of me and it was just more of a comfort zone being home,” Buttars said.
When she got home from school, she normally just put on her pajamas, sat on the couch and watched TV or played on the computer.
“(I) didn’t want to do anything, wanted to sleep, didn’t want to do my homework, didn’t want to go to school, … (I) stopped going to church activities because I didn’t want to be around kids,” she said.
Because of her lack of energy, Buttars ended up missing a portion of her freshman and sophomore year in high school. She lost about a year of information.
“There would be times where I would just be like, ‘I want out of here, I want to move, I want to run away,’” she said. “I had thoughts of running away because … it was so overwhelming. Just being a teenager.”
Those feelings started when she was 12 and progressed until she was about 16 years old. She said she just wanted those feelings to go away somehow and that is what brought her to her kitchen unconsciously trying to end her life.
“When I came out of that seizure, … I had no idea … I had those feelings, I had those … intentions, but I would have, I could’ve seriously hurt myself if my mom wasn’t around,” Buttars said. “Luckily, I’m here and luckily, she was there. I am a survivor and I think it’s really important to put this information out there.”
Buttars said she wishes there was a program in her school that focused on helping kids in her situation.
Luckily, she said she had understanding parents, who gave her as much help as they could at the time.
To help with her seizures, she ended up getting a service dog while in high school and work closely with the trainer, who became one of her mentors.
“She just took an interest in me, she just invited me to go work with her,” Buttars said. “Go do agility courses, go do stuff like that, so I had more of a bond with my dog, but I got to get to know her and she just had like this positivity. It’s just like a big huge support system.”
To help people in her situation at the time, she said it’s all about who is willing to help, who is willing to put the word out there and how much they want to invest in helping those who are going through this situation.
Even though Buttars had a support animal, she still felt the need to connect with the people around her.
“We’re human beings and we need people to talk to,” she said. “That’s the only way the problem is going to get solved. A lot of it has to do with communication and finding our voice. … Maybe it’ll be a burden at first, but it’s helping someone save their life, if you are taking the time to listen.”
She said sometimes when people focus on giving advice to someone in her situation, it just ends up make her feel worse. Most of the time, she just wants someone to listen.
“You’re never going to get through to anyone just by giving advice because they already know what they want or what they need to do,” Buttars said. “They just need someone to listen, so they can confirm what they know. … It’s all about listening and being able to communicate. Instead of just butting in a conversation we need to listen.”
Buttars encouraged anyone in a similar situation to look for help because there are people out there who want to help.
“You can go see your school counselor you can go see someone that you’re close with,” she said. “I would personally go talk to (an) adult first before you go talk to your friend, because sometimes they’re not helpful and sometimes their burden also can cause them to have issues as well.”
There are resources available, whether they are in schools, church or in a family environment, Butters reminded.
“If you’re down or upset, just go talk, it’ll make you feel better,” she said. “… Don’t be afraid to speak up. Use your voice.”
Throughout her life, she said a lot of people talked down to her and it wasn’t the best thing for her at the time, so she encourages everyone to open up.
“It’s going to be that big, heavy cloud over your head all the time if you don’t let it go and talk about it,” Buttars said. “Just go get help.”
Add your voice to Abbigail Buttars and end the silence around you.