I wake up every morning, sit up in bed, wipe the sleep from my eyes, and breathe deeply. I remind myself that yesterday is gone and that today is new.
As a college student with bipolar II disorder who struggles with depression on a minute-by-minute basis, the amount of pressure that I’m under to survive never fails to overwhelm. Amidst the hustle and the bustle of life, I can forget to breathe. I can forget why I continue to combat my mental illness. It’s in those moments of forgetting that it becomes crucial to remind myself why my story and struggles matter.
No matter how heavy my struggles may feel, there is a light out there that is constant, vindicating, and timeless: hope.
Your struggles matter because you are a walking, breathing, living story of hope.
My life tells the story of a boy who grew up in a chaotic, verbally abusive household. My life tells a story of how moving every three years caused that boy to lose faith in stable relationships. It is a story of how he turned to self-injury to cope and how he put himself to sleep at night with pills when the anxiety became too much to handle. It’s also a story of how, after two attempts to take his life, he accepted the help he deserved. It’s a story of how he has found comfort in a God who loves him unconditionally and friends who do the same.
I am a story that could’ve ended but didn’t. I am a story of recovery and life. Our stories may be different, but they all deserve the new beginning that hope promises.
The reason that I continue to fight depression is not only so I can live a life of joy; it’s also so that I can show others that living with depression isn’t merely a thing that we talk about. It’s a reality that can be achieved by other real, purpose-seeking people.
People like me.
Of course, there are days when darkness wins – days when all the lies I’m hearing become my greatest truths. There are days where old hurts swell up and old scars start to show. These are the days when I have the arms of friends to hold me up and the light that is their love to guide me. The joy that I’ve found from letting people into my story has been tremendously helpful in my recovery. Having others love me and loving them in return has aided in my learning to love myself.
By continuing to fight our battles, we can be a light to others – and that is a purpose worth fighting for. And the cool thing is, those people usually end up choosing to fight our battles with us.
If you are struggling right now, don’t give up. Please continue to wake up every morning and remind yourself that you are worthy of recovery and love.
We were not put on this earth to survive on our own. We were created to thrive in community with others. You never know who’s looking up to you and wondering how you’re managing to stay hopeful despite the battles you face. Whether your battle comes in the form of depression or something entirely different, I’m going to ask you to reach out for support and stay strong. I ask this of you not only because you deserve peace, but because you never know whose heart you might be inspiring as well.