i am wearing my favorite pair of jeans, my hair is still wet from my shower i took an hour ago, and i just finished my first cup of coffee. i am listening to the new Judah and the Lion album and ignoring the fact that i have to go to class in a few minutes. The sun is shining and i’m sure somewhere a bird is chirping. i am not sure what my life holds for me once i leave this booth, but i am glad that i’m here to find out.
Today, September 10th, is World Suicide Prevention Day. i am sporting a shirt with an orange emblem on it, with the words “No one else can play your part” written across it. This is the shirt sold by To Write Love On Her Arms as a part of their campaign for National Suicide Prevention Week, which started Monday. Suicide prevention and mental health awareness are things that i’m really passionate about (ask any of my close friends) and it’s something that i feel like a lot of people are afraid to talk about. Honestly, it’s something i’m often hesitant to bring up in certain company. i’m done with that.
So here’s my story.
i’ve struggled with depression for seven years. It started when i was thirteen. My dad had cancer and my family was falling apart and all of the sudden, getting out of bed wasn’t as easy as it used to be. i distinctively remember the day that i decided that life wasn’t worth living anymore; the day that i almost ended my life permanently. The details of that story aren’t important, because the only important detail is that i didn’t commit suicide. i am still alive. No, that wasn’t the last time that i contemplated suicide and my depression wasn’t gone when i put the knife back in it’s holder. Choosing life that day was one of the hardest decisions i’ve ever made. Choosing life meant continuing to walk through the pain. It meant having to force myself to get out of bed. It meant that it wasn’t over, that i was still alive, my story was still going.
Flash forward six years to this past spring. i was depressed, again. Not many people knew, but i wasn’t hiding it. i struggled with seasonal depression; it is a fact, not some kind of classified information that i am going to hide from the world. My battle with depression isn’t a secret to be kept, it is a disease to be fought. It absorbs your thoughts, actions, words. It is a fierce, ruthless, evil disease that tries to take over every ounce of my life. Whether i am thirteen or nineteen, depression will never be an easy battle to face. i will always have to convince myself that i want to win the battle. i will always have to convince myself that getting out of bed, smiling and laughing with my friends, and finishing my story is worth it. Depression sucks and i hate it.
More than 350 million people struggle with depression worldwide. In the US alone, there is one suicide about very fourteen minutes. It is the tenth leading cause of death for Americans. Depression itself is the leading cause of disability worldwide but almost 80% of people who suffer from depression can be treated. Depression is strong. Suicidal thoughts are strong. i know what it’s like to want to end it all. i know what it is like to want to take away the pain. i know what it is like to feel like life isn’t worth living. But i also know that life is stronger. i know that tomorrow can always be better. i know that life is worth living, even on the darkest days.
i am so glad that i am alive. i am thankful that i am here to finish the story that i have been given, because no one else can play my part in it. No one else can play my part as a friend, a sister, a student, or a daughter. No one can make my friends laugh just like i do and no one knows how to love my family like i do. i am the only one in the world with hair like mine. i am the only one with my laugh, my smile, and my story. My life is worth living to see what the next chapter holds and my life is worth living because other people need me. Yes, sometimes it’s overwhelming and sometimes there are days when depression may win. Yes, feeling too much is scary and people aren’t always nice. But in the end, there is always coffee to drink and Jesus to love and sunsets to watch. It will be okay, even when it feels like it won’t be.
i’m extra glad that i chose to live today. It’s hours after i started this blog (life, school, naps, and coffee dates happen) and today has been a great day. My life is worth living and so is yours. Depression can be beat. Help is out there. Counselors are great and helpful and can be life changing (i call mine homegirl). There is a light to be found at the end of the tunnel, even if you can’t see it now. Suicide is not your only option. Hope is real. Help is real. You matter. Your story is important. No one else can play your part.