And so I kept living.
This year’s World Suicide Prevention Day campaign wasn’t about the highs. It wasn’t about the mountaintops or about the glory that comes with reaching them. No, it recognized the lows, the points in your life you wish you could erase. It called up memories of the things you’re too ashamed to think about, the ones that still haunt you. It acknowledged that we all have our demons, the ghosts that keep us up at night. We all have wisps of memories that taunt us, beckoning us to come closer to depression or to self-harm or to addiction or to suicide.
This year’s WSPD campaign acknowledged that choosing to stay alive is a rebellious cry, one that sings of hope and courage. I lived. I lived. I lived. It acknowledged that, in the face of adversity, we chose life. We made this choice when we got out of bed, when we decided to get help, and when we actually got that help. We chose it with every laugh and with every tear and with every other gut-wrenching, raw emotion. This year’s campaign told us, “You might have to face your worst fears, but you don’t have to be fearless.” It told us it’s OK to be scared. It asked us to be brave anyway.
So be brave. Give your therapist your blades. Scream and beg for recovery. Forgive yourself. Defy the voice that tells you that it won’t get better. Depression is lying to you. Put it back in its place. Dare to be hopeful.
I can ask all of this from you because I have been there, and I’ve had to do it too. I know how it feels to loathe every inch of your being, to wish your existence away. At sixteen years old, I struggled with my sexuality as I came to terms with the idea of being disabled for the rest of my life. I felt like a freak. My friends, happy and healthy during our junior year of high school, didn’t understand what I was going through. And I couldn’t blame them for that. I couldn’t hold them accountable for their blissful ignorance. I envied that ignorance, the joy in not knowing pain. I still do.
Slowly but surely, I became depressed. I began self-harming, and I contemplated suicide. It was one of the lowest points of my life. I confided all this in my friend, one of the two who had stuck around after I dropped out of school. She seemed concerned, but I thought nothing of it. Luckily, she loved me enough to tell my mom about what I was going through. That was four years ago.
I like to think that we all have two birthdays—the day we were born and the day we started fighting for our lives. That fateful day was my rebirth, although I didn’t know it at the time. It was the day I recognized depression for what it truly is: a liar and a thief. That day, I flushed my blades down the drain. I was determined to find myself again.
So think back to this year’s slogan—And so I kept living—and celebrate your victories.
Yes, you did it.
Yes, you chose life.
Yes, you kept living.
And there is absolutely nothing in this world that is more beautiful than that.