TW: Depression, Suicide, Mental Illness.
Hi everyone, I would like to start off this article by saying, what is written within this article is based a lot on my own experience dealing with depression for a large portion of my life. I am in no way trying to speak on the experiences of others, because I know that every battle with mental illness, no matter the kind, differs from person to person.
When I was about 12 years old, I remember recognizing this daunting feeling of utter sadness. It felt like the world had gone dark. My motivation had started to lessen, I found it hard to get out of bed and walk to my bus stop in the morning, I put less effort into myself and the things I had enjoyed prior to this feeling. As a 12 year old girl, mental illness and depression were not things that I had really thought of at the time, so I took it as a few bad days.
Those few bad days turned into weeks, months, and years. My motivation to get out of bed every day, shower, brush my teeth, get dressed, and eat had completely dissipated. It was hard for me to grasp the concept that I was dealing with something of such magnitude at such a young age, but I always did my best to try to keep moving along. It was hard for me to find an outlet to talk about my feelings, a safe space to speak them into existence. It was something I felt like I had to hide from my family and friends, that if I ever said something I would be a burden.
I woke up every day dreading the hours that followed. Each hour it felt as though I could feel another 10 pound weight being added onto my shoulders, and it became hard to want to even move a muscle. I had recurring suicidal thoughts. I felt like I wasn’t wanted by anyone, wasn’t loved or cared for. I found it hard to maintain friendships because I had this voice in the back of my head telling me that I wasn’t worth their time, and they didn’t want me around anyway. When I turned 14, I found myself sitting on my bathroom floor late at night holding a bottle of pills in my hand, crying. I had this constant thoughts in the back of my head where if I left this earth, everyone’s life would be easier. I would no longer be a burden to those around me, and no one would miss me. Over the next year, this happened two more times, but I never went through with it. In those moments, I couldn’t bring myself to swallow those pills because for a second, I imagined what it would be like for my family and friends to live a life without me. I sat there and questioned, “would I want to put them through that pain?”, so instead, I endured mine. I would harm myself by pinching myself in places that could be easily covered, or hitting my leg repeatedly until a bruise formed. All of this because I just wanted to feel something. I felt numb to everything, I felt empty, and I felt like there was nowhere for me to go or anyone for me to turn to.
I am now 20 years old. It has been 5 years since my last attempt, and I want to let you all know that there is that light at the end of the tunnel. As cliché as it sounds, it’s true. I still have my episodes that can last days, weeks, months, where I feel like I did when I was 12. I would lose my motivation to take care of myself, I couldn’t bring myself to shower, do laundry, eat, I go numb. The battle is never easy, but I promise you will find your way out of that dark place.
I would like to point out that it’s September, which means it’s Suicide Prevention Awareness month. In a time like we’re in right now, the risk of rising suicide rates is high. People are out of jobs, out of school, doing online school, and dealing with the loss of loved ones. The lack of social interaction, isolation, and financial struggles, along with a lot of other factors that come along with this pandemic, can cause suicide rates in the U.S and across the world to spike. Check in on your friends, your family, maybe someone you haven’t spoken too in awhile. Check in on yourself. This is a hard time for everyone, a small “Hey, how are you doing?” could change the course of someone’s day.
I want to make it known that you are never alone. There will always be someone who cares about you, even when your brain and those loud thoughts tell you they don’t. There will always be a journal or notebook to write in, even though it won’t speak back to you. There will always be someone who loves and cares for you, someone who needs you in this world. There will always be another side of this pain, this suffering that you wish would end. That pain, that suffering, that feeling of never ending numbness? It will end, and you can fight this fight to come out on that other side- alive.
Life is ever-changing, you are forever growing and learning. You’re going to meet new people who treat you like you’ve never been treated before. You’ll fall in love, you’ll find this amazing recipe that you want to make for all your friends and family. You’ll do things you’ve dreamt of doing, see things and go places you’ve always dreamt of. I encourage you to take care of yourself today, tonight, tomorrow day, tomorrow night, and every single day following. Celebrate those small victories. A victory is a victory, be kind to yourself. I promise there is a place within yourself where you can find solace, a spot full of love for your own self. There are brighter days ahead of you.
Write, draw, scream, cry, laugh, type furiously or gently, go to therapy, take medication, dance or maybe exercise. Do whatever you feel the need to do to ease the pain. I encourage you to break the stigma surrounding mental illness, therapy and medication. Advocate for mental health for all and for yourself. Start that conversation. There is absolutely nothing wrong with needing an extra step or two to feel better, because you’re doing your best. That’s all anyone could ever ask for. Be proud of yourself.
I don’t know you, or maybe I do, but you’re awesome and I am so proud of you for making it another day. Whether you be battling depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, an eating disorder or schizophrenia. Whatever it is, I am so damn proud of you. I am so happy you’re here.
You are so strong, stronger than you think. Reach out to your friends, be there for yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to put yourself first, because it is so important to make sure you take time for yourself. It can be scary, it can be tough, it can feel like you’re taking two steps back when you want to be taking two steps forward, but you matter in this world. I don’t have a doubt in my mind that you will make it out of this fight alive.
Take a deep breath, you’re going to be okay. I believe in you, I am with you, I will support you throughout this fight. I am so glad you’re here.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255.
If you feel you or someone you know may be struggling with mental illness: https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Warning-Signs-and-Symptoms
More about Suicide Prevention Awareness Month: https://www.nami.org/get-involved/awareness-events/suicide-prevention-awareness-month