I grew up in a very old farmhouse that was, by anyone’s standards, due for demolition. That house, with its leaky roof and sloping ceilings, was precious to me because it housed something beautiful… love. I didn’t know it at the time, but it would be that love that would save my life.
Before my ninth birthday, I had been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and was battling extreme anxiety. I loved my family more than anything but couldn’t help feeling like a mistake. I was angry at myself that I couldn’t be happy all the time or always make others happy. My depression worsened with age, and I turned to self-harming in high school. It wasn’t until I was sent home from college my freshman year, following three emergency room visits for crisis situations, that I began seeing a counselor.
My biggest regret today is the isolation I inflicted upon myself. I believed I had to be perfect and that I would feel better about myself if I could get through all of my struggles alone. I could not have misunderstood more the hope that is found through help. For years, I anticipated something meaningful and beautiful growing out of the darkness of my past; like wildflowers pushing through the ashy soot left in the wake of a volcanic eruption. I could not make it on my own. I needed help rebuilding and nurturing a new foundation.
One of the first things my counselor told me was that I needed to learn to take up space in the world.
We all have space and a place in this world, and we were not meant to live life standing on our tippy toes, arms to our sides, trying to keep our struggles in a box we barely fit in. We need community, we need help, we need love.
You are worth more than the small, dark, and lonely place you try to conceal your struggles in. You don’t deserve to be alone, and you don’t deserve to feel the pain of isolation.
As the sun drops below the horizon tonight, I don’t fear the darkness. I do not fear because I have been reassured that the light will rise once again over the earth and bring with it warmth and beauty. If you’re hurting, hold fast to the hope that the light will return, and through the ashes, beautiful things can begin to bloom.
You are worthy of love and grace, from others and yourself. You are enough, here and now. If you’re dealing with self-injury or self-harm, we encourage you to use TWLOHA’s FIND HELP Tool to locate professional help and to read more stories like this one here. If you reside outside of the US, please browse our growing International Resources database. You can also text TWLOHA to 741741 to be connected for free, 24/7 to a trained Crisis Text Line counselor. If it’s encouragement or a listening ear that you need, email our team at [email protected].