To New Beginnings

I’m going to tell you guys a story.

It’s the story of a girl who slowly, slowly, slowly drifted into the darkness of depression–so slowly that she didn’t realize what was happening until she was at the bottom of the pit. This girl struggled. She collapsed onto a cold bathroom floor countless times, wondering if there was more out there for her. She needed to know that there was something beyond the ache of emptiness. The agony of loneliness. She cried, and cried, and cried, until it felt as if there were no possible tears left.

And then, she cried some more.

After a while, the depression convinced this girl that there was nothing more—at least, not for her. That this, this pain, was her destiny.

But the girl was so, so wrong. Because depression is a bold-faced liar.

If I could see that girl again, I’d sit beside her on that cold bathroom floor. I’d take her hand. And I’d tell her that yes, the nights could be so very dark and long, with no end in sight. But I’d also tell her that morning always comes, no matter how dark the night gets. That each sunrise brings new chances. New beginnings. That each breath is a declaration that she’s still here, and that she’s still winning this fight. She may feel beaten and rundown and defeated, but every breath is its own victory. In the battle against depression, we celebrate each and every victory.

I’d tell her that there’s a place for her here. And that while she may not be able to see it just yet, her place in the world cannot be filled by anyone but her. You see, this girl loved to tell stories. I’d let her know that no one could tell her stories better than she could.

If I could see that girl again, I’d tell her that even though things felt like they were falling apart, they were actually falling into place.

If you’re struggling, if your pain is crippling, if the tears just won’t let up, I hope you hear me when I say that while the world can be a beautiful place, it’s so much more beautiful with you in it. The night is dark, but I promise that the morning always comes, bringing with it a new beginning. Life is full of these new beginnings, some being much larger than others. Those beginnings aren’t always easy, but they’re so, so very worth it.

I love National Suicide Prevention Week and World Suicide Prevention Day, because they bring awareness to silent suffering. But every day is an opportunity to tell someone that we love them. That we’ve got their back. That we’d really miss them if they were gone. And that if they ever needed us to, we’d sit beside them on a cold bathroom floor and hold their hand.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24/7): 1-800-273-8255

The Trevor Lifeline (24/7): 1-866-488-7386

 

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An Open Letter: To Those Who Fight

To Those Who Fight,

I get it. I know how hard it was to get out of bed this morning. I know how your heart clenched when you glanced in the mirror. I know how taking one step felt like trudging through a mud pit. And people expect you to take step, after step, after step. They expect you to keep going, even when you’re so very tired.

Life’s already hard enough. Depression makes it even harder.

You may be dwelling on the mistakes. On what happened yesterday, or last week, or three years ago. On the what-ifs, the could’ves, the should’ves. For some reason, the negative thoughts are so much louder than the good ones.

I’m not going to sit here and lie to you. I’m not going to say that life is perfect, that you’ll be surrounded by unicorns and rainbows and glitter. I’m going to tell you that it gets tough. That some parts downright suck. That some days make you wonder why you exist in the first place.

But I’m also going to tell you that there’s a reason you’re here. The beat of your heart and the air in your lungs means that you’re still here, and you’re here for a purpose–your purpose. It’s unique, and it’s meant for you, and you alone. You may not know what that purpose is yet, but you do have one. The catch? You’re the only one who can discover that purpose. Which means you need to stay.

And we want you to stay.

There may be nights when your heart aches and your stomach’s in knots and your head is clouded with the mistakes, with the what-ifs, with the could’ves and the should’ves. But I hope that you hear the voices of others, the voices that are screaming for you to stay. They’re screaming that you matter so very much, that your story is only beginning.

And I hope that you realize how strong you are. That you are here. And that someone out there loves you–dear goodness, they love you.

It still won’t be easy–climbing up a mountain never is. But when you get to the top of the mountain? It’s so very worth it. And the view is breathtaking.

Hope is possible.

Healing is possible.

Forgiveness is possible.

A future is possible.

Your story is far from over. And I can’t wait to hear that story.

~ Michelle

National Suicide Prevention Week begins September 8th, and September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. If you or someone you know is suffering, there are people who care, and who want to listen, and who want to help.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 (available 24/7)

To Write Love on Her Arms

The Trevor Project

The Trevor Lifeline:  1-866-488-7386 (available 24/7)

You Are More

You are more.

You are more than your past.

You are more than the choices you’ve made.

You are more than your mistakes.

You are more than the scars on your arm or on your heart. You are more than the tear stains on your cheeks. You are more than the ache of depression.

You are a person. You have hopes, and dreams, and aspirations. You have people you love and who love you. You have air in your lungs and blood in your veins.

And because of these things, you have a purpose. There’s a reason for the beat of your heart. There’s a reason you’re still here.

Life isn’t easy. It isn’t always fair. Sometimes we suffer, we cry, we ache, and we bleed. And more than anything, I wish I knew the reason for that pain. But in a way, I get it. It’s because of that pain that we’re living testimonies to the strength inside us.

You may not feel strong, but you are. I know you are. Because you’re still here. You may have fought tooth and nail to make it through another night of heartache and tears, but today, you are here. You are alive. And that makes you strong. It makes you a fighter.

The beauty of a new day is that it brings a new opportunity to move forward. To breathe. To live.

You are more than your past. You are stronger than you realize. You are here today. And that is beautiful.

If you’re struggling in any way, there are people who want to help.

The Trevor Project’s 24/7 lifeline for LGBTQ youth: 1-866-488-7386

National Suicide Prevention 24/7 Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

To Write Love on Her Arms: http://twloha.com/blog

A Little Bit of Hope

In May 2012, I planned to kill myself. But at the last minute, I didn’t. You hear about these moments of clarity that seem so fictitious and ridiculous and too good to be true, but they actually exist.

On paper, nothing was “wrong” with my life. In fact, my life was pretty ideal to an outsider looking in. But my head? My head was in a dark, dark place, a place that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

Depression is a silent killer. It eats away at your soul, bit-by-bit, until there’s nothing left except for the shell of what you used to be. It hurts. Some days, it’s a physical pain. Others, it’s the pain of simply knowing that you’re still stuck in the world, making the lives of those around you miserable. That day in May was one of the latter.

I’m not writing this post for pity, because I know that’s what some may be thinking. I know others may be rolling their eyes because they think posts like this are attention-seeking. That’s okay. I used to think the same thing about those who “suffered” from depression.

(By the way, I used quotation marks because once upon a time, I didn’t even believe depression was a legit thing. Funny how the universe sets us straight, huh?)

I’m not writing this to brag or seek attention, and I most definitely don’t want pity. In fact, I hesitated to publish this because I know some people will never look at me the same way again. I posted this for three reasons.

1)      Awareness for the ones who believe suicide victims are “selfish.” I can see the logic behind that statement. Those left behind after someone takes his/her own life are left with the questions, the grief, the suffering. But from an insider’s point-of-view, I can tell you this: The person who took their life likely suffered with grief every day up until their last moment.

2)      To let others know that they’re not alone. Up until I was diagnosed with clinical depression, I’d known that something wasn’t quite right. What I didn’t know was that, despite what I constantly told myself, I was not alone. There were others out there who didn’t believe anyone would care about what they were going through. There were others who thought the “light at the end of the tunnel” was a crock. To those people, please hear me loud and clear:

Your brain is lying to you.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. There are people who care. There are people who want to listen.

The Trevor Project

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

To Write Love on Her Arms

JK Rowling said, “And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” The accuracy of that quote has me in tears. It also brings me to number three.

3)      To let others know that there’s a reason for your rock bottom. Because if you don’t go through the valleys, you’ll never truly understand the beauty at the top of the mountain.

Wordy Wednesday – A Light in the Darkness

Monday, September 10th, marked the beginning of National Suicide Prevention Week. I recently blogged about my own struggles with depression and thoughts of suicide. I’m lucky that I received the help I needed just in time. Some people aren’t so lucky.

From a study published in the Journal of Women’s Health:

Jean Ko, PhD and coauthors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta, GA, found that more than 1 in 10 women ages 18-44 years had a major depressive event during the previous year—representing about 1.2 million U.S. women—but more than half of those women did not receive a diagnosis of depression and nearly half did not receive any mental health treatment.

121 million people worldwide suffer from depression. 121 million. That number astounds me. And you know what’s even more staggering? 2 out of 3 people that suffer depression never seek treatment for it.

Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide, and suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers. Source

So, what can we do? Well, talking about it is one thing. So many people suffer in silence because there’s a sense of shame that tends to come with a diagnosis of mental illness. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, though. Some people just need a little more help than others. When will we, as a society, realize that?

Another solution? Love. A simple, four letter word that can make all the difference. Love each other. Care for each other. Treat others the way you want to be treated. If you see someone is struggling, help them.

Depression is a disease in which most people suffer in terrifying silence. In that silence, the brain has a chance to go into overdrive with feelings of guilt, of hate, of sadness. And if given enough time, those feelings can manifest into, “What can I do to make this go away?”

Remember that statistic? Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide.

A little bit of understanding, of love, of hope, goes a long way. If you can even spark the tiniest bit of hope in a person’s life, do it. The bullying has got to stop. The shaming of people with mental illnesses has got to stop.

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing depression or thoughts of suicide, here are a few links that will hopefully help a little. To Write Love on Her Arms is a mission that I adore. I’d say the world can use a little more love, yes?

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

To Write Love on Her Arms: To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide.

The Trevor Project: The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth.