Whenever I would tell someone I didn’t see a reason to live, they would find it necessary to remind me of all of the things I should be grateful for: parents, family, friends who love me, a beautiful home, attendance at a prestigious private school.
Can I let you in on a secret? … I never saw these as things to live for. I saw my parents as two people I could never please, no matter how hard I tried. I viewed my extended family as just that: extended, far off, not very involved in my life. I figured they’d be OK without me. And friends? Don’t even go there. I spent my days trying to impress my “friends” so they would like me enough to stop excluding me. A beautiful home? That was icing on my cake of guilt. I volunteer often, and I took other people’s struggles personally. I felt guilty for being blessed with the things they couldn’t afford, such as a roof over my head. And that prestigious private school? Well, I had to be dragged there, kicking and screaming. School, in my mind, was equivalent to hell. It was the place where I felt stupid, misunderstood, and left out. I broke down in the school bathroom daily, and I would come home each night and beg my parents to let me switch schools.
When you’re trying to convince yourself to keep living, you need a reason to believe it’s worth it. For the longest time, I couldn’t find one. It wasn’t that my family and friends would be better off without me, although sometimes I thought so. It was just that I couldn’t keep living for them alone. I needed my own reason.
In September of 2012, I made the decision to go to treatment for my depression and other related issues. A lot of people thought I was going because I was ready to get better, because I wanted to be responsible, or because my parents made me. The truth? I was going to give myself a month to find a reason to live. If I was discharged and didn’t have one, I was prepared to end my life.
I can now say the decision to enter treatment was the best I ever made. Before then, I knew I had a future, but I didn’t know what it consisted of, so it didn’t matter too much to me in the grand scheme of things. The future was just an idea, like a land far, far away, full of unicorns and made of candy. One day, a staff member at the facility said to me, “I would totally hire you. You would do amazing here. Come back and see me after college.” I had never thought about psychology before, but right then and there, something clicked—not only in my mind, but in my heart. I found my calling. I knew what I was meant to do. I had my reason.
I am going to graduate high school this year, and I will be going away for college. I have a scholarship to my dream school, where I will enroll in a five-year social work program. When I graduate in five years, I am going to return to the treatment center I was at to apply for a job as a social worker. Am I getting a little ahead of myself? Probably. My point is, I found my reason, and I can’t wait to help other people find their reason too. I can’t wait for the next five years of my life.
Your reason might not be your future. It might be a friend, your mom, your faith, your kids, even your pet. Your story matters because you are a part of a bigger story with other characters. You are here for a purpose, and even if you can’t see it right now, trust me, there is reason enough to keep looking.