Be Brave. Use Your Voice.

By Leah BartlettOctober 16, 2016

“You can be amazing; you can turn a phrase into a weapon or a drug. You can be the outcast, or be the backlash of somebody’s lack of love. Or you can start speaking up.”

This is for you: who is certain that you’re entirely alone, that you never belonged here, that you’re going to feel this way forever.

This is for you: whose eyes can’t see through the fog, whose skin suffers at the hands of your mind, who feels like you’re suffocating from the weight of it all.

This is for you: who punctuates every tiny thought of hope with “yeah, but…not me,” who doesn’t feel like your voice is worthy of sound, who can’t bear to face the outside world.

This is for you: whose mind races, whose heart races, whose limbs can’t stop moving.

This is for you: who feels wrong, who feels lost, who feels stuck.

This is for you: who has forgotten that you deserve the world simply because you’re in it.

I am writing this for you most of all. I’m writing this for you because I have been there, and sometimes, when it’s hard to find words, finding shelter in someone else’s can give you hope.

“Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way the words do when they settle ‘neath your skin. Kept on the inside, no sunlight, sometimes a shadow wins.”

For way too long, I hid my pain beneath laughter, beneath layers of clothes, beneath excuses. I didn’t want anybody to be pulled down by my weight. I was convinced that nobody would be able to help me anyway or that I would just be cast away as being overdramatic or stupid. I had always been the good girl, the perfect daughter, the A+ student, and everything was spiraling out of control. I was afraid of who I was becoming, but I was so ashamed that I didn’t want anybody to know. I didn’t want to show how vulnerable I was; and after all, how do you bring up a conversation like that? How do you push those words out?

“But I wonder what would happen if you say what you wanna say, and let the words fall out.”

I wish I could pinpoint a specific moment during my journey when I found my voice, but like any solid structure, it had to be built brick by brick. It’s true that once you let the words out, it becomes easier to add those bricks. When you use your voice, when you speak up to friends, counselors, teachers, and family members, they can help lift you up and give you the boost you need to keep building, to reach higher than you ever thought you could. They might even offer to carry some of the weight.

“Honestly, I want to see you be brave.”

Some days it’s harder to talk about the pain you feel. Some days there will be a lump in your throat and a heaviness in your chest that suffocates the words inside you. And some days someone’s ignorance will make you choke on your words. Just know that you don’t have to feel completely confident or have the right words; you just have to let them out. Making my first call to the counseling center on my college campus was one of the hardest things I’d ever done, but it really did get easier to talk about my mental illness after that. And years later, after talking through my pain and after reaching out to those who care about me and after learning to fight for myself, I look back and realize that I have this amazing structure with which I have learned to protect my mental health and to work through the obstacles I face. If it weren’t for my friends, family, mentors, therapists, doctors, and all of those who were willing to help in between, I wouldn’t be here.

“Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live; maybe one of these days you can let the light in.”

You do not have to battle this alone. You are capable of feeling better, and what’s more, you are worthy of feeling better. If you are hurting and unsure of what to do, please speak up. Reach out. Ask for help. Let the words fall out. Speaking up could save your life, and we need you here.

Be brave.

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Comments (17)

  1. Paul Bartlett

    OMG, losing it at work reading. Proud Papa!

    Reply  |  
    1. Bellla

      I wish your comment had a like button. X

      Reply  |  
  2. Paul Bartlett

    OMG losing it at work reading. Proud Papa!

    Reply  |  
  3. Lauren

    Thank you so much. I needed to hear this today. 🙂 Thank you for your words.

    Reply  |  
  4. Valentina Radu

    Thank you for your words. It’s not simple to fight, but not impossible

    Reply  |  
  5. Bellla

    Thank you for telling of part of your story with us all. Thank you for sharing part of yourself. Thank you for being you. Proud of you.
    God bless

    Reply  |  
  6. Abby

    As I sit in this pointless college class I stumbled on this writing. And I taught me and inspired me to take a deep breath and feel alive. Thank you for inspiring and encouraging me. I really loved this.

    Reply  |  
  7. Maarja

    This is beautiful, thank you!

    Reply  |  
  8. Monica

    Much needed today. Thank you!

    Reply  |  
  9. Kori Bourdeaux

    I was just about to post on twitter how I felt so small and voiceless in this world when I saw this and immediately was brought to tears because this is me 100%.

    Reply  |  
  10. Lauren Carter

    I needed to read this today. Thank you.

    Reply  |  
  11. Haley

    when i was younger i didnt have friends i was nine homeless living in abandoned houses with my mom but on the weekends i got to go see my best friend but she was my grandma that lived with my dad my grandma was the only person i have or had i went to dads house one weekend and there weren’t enough bed rooms for my four step brothers and my nana and i to have our own room so i shared with nana (my grandma) and my brothers were not there so i got to sleep in there room it was my fault my nana died that night if i had been there in our room i could have found her sooner than i did and called an ambulance but no i found her dead the next morning after she died i tried to kill myself as a nine year old i never was really happy after that but when i was eleven my mom had moved us in with her boyfriend who had started molesting me i finally told someone when i turned 14 i started talking to these older guys
    (early 20’s) on a dating site so that someone could take me away from my mom and her boyfriend so i could start over anywhere but i got caught by the cops when i was running away anyways i have relapsed into self-harm after my mom decides to still have this man as her boyfriend and see him on the weekends when she ships me off to family members houses so he can come over i know this isnt what the comments are for but i needed to tell someone and find out what to do

    Reply  |  
    1. Claire Biggs

      Hi Haley,

      Thank you so much for your comment and for sharing part of your story with us. Would you mind emailing us at [email protected]? We’d love to talk more with you and see if we can give you some resources for self-harm.

      Reply  |  
  12. Crystal

    I needed this.

    Reply  |  
  13. Gladys

    Where do you go?

    Reply  |  
  14. Úrsula

    Thanks for this words. You can help many people with a simple word. You’re amazing.
    Rodearte de las personas que te quieren de verdad, que están allí cuando caes y son los que te ayudan a levantarte y seguir el camino.
    Debemos ser valientes, podemos serlo y podemos contar con gente que nos ayude a conseguirlo.

    Reply  |  
  15. Scott K.

    This was for me. Thank you. 🙂

    Reply  |  
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