Note: This piece mentions suicidal ideation in detail. Please use your discretion.
I can’t recall the exact moment I thought about suicide for the first time. I know plenty of people can pinpoint it. But it didn’t shock me so I suppose I didn’t note the thought as significant. My ideation came on gradually.
It started at ‘I don’t like it here’ and ‘it’s hard to deal with this feeling, I wish I didn’t have to’ and ‘it would be easier if I wasn’t here.’ And soon became, ‘I wish I didn’t exist’ and ‘I wish I were dead.’ Eventually, those turned into, ‘I want to kill myself’.
It was a logical progression. A simple, linear journey.
By the end of 5th grade, I frequently entertained the notion of non-existence (without full understanding of what that meant). By the end of 7th or 8th grade, I thought about suicide regularly. And by the end of 9th, I was certain I wouldn’t make it to my 18th birthday.
I waited for the right moment, the right day, to give me the “courage” I thought I needed.
I kept my wishes to never have been born to myself for six years. I was 16 when I finally told people what was happening in my head.
Enter, stage right, rude and unsolicited opinions. Cross to center. Tell the girl who feels her emotions like a roiling storm that she is not special.
“You aren’t special,” and other accompanying variations began to sound. Sometimes with good intent. Sometimes, what these people meant was, “You aren’t alone.”
They didn’t say that, though. They looked me in the face and said, “You aren’t special.”
To which I would think, ‘Tell me something I don’t know, buddy.’
I knew I wasn’t special. I knew my death would not impact anyone with any particular depth because I wasn’t special. Not being special meant that I was replaceable. Not being special meant that I was just an extra, a sidekick that disappears halfway through the plot of their own life.
And if I wasn’t special, then there was absolutely no point in staying or fighting. I was tired too, and if I was both exhausted and unspecial, then I wanted out.
Those three words meant it didn’t matter if I stayed. Didn’t matter if I fought and fought and fought. Those words downplayed my will to fight for something many didn’t have to fight for. I wanted to die. Some days, I still do. Some days, that phrase bounces around my skull, echoing down the chasm of my gray matter: You aren’t special.
But here’s thing: I am special.
In 7.67 billion people, in this massive house of a planet, not a single person in it is a duplicate of me. Not a single other person has my laugh, my energy, my family, my friends. In 7.67 billion people, no one else is me.
I am special, and the world needs special humans to do special things. Therefore, I make sure my desire to die loses. It lost on my 18th birthday, which I celebrated with my family and friends. It lost on my 19th and 20th birthdays, too.
My uniqueness is both purpose and power. It tells me that I was created and placed here for a reason. It tells me that my life is a once-in-the-universe event that can neither be copied nor repeated. That is incredible, that is worth living for.
Many people share this kind of pain, and many people have heard the words I have come to scoff at. And I am as glad to know I am not alone as I am to know that I am special.
So, if anyone has ever told you this lie, allow me to make something abundantly clear:
You. Are. Special.
In the history of the world, in all the people in it now, just one of them is you. You will share pieces of yourself with many people, enough strings to tie the world together that you cannot be alone, but you are still the only person in the whole world who is you. The odds of that are so significant, so important, they read like a love letter from the Creator to you. And that’s your power, your lifeline, your reason. I know it hurts—but it is worth living through so that you can change this place with the fingerprint of your life.
You absolutely are special. (If anyone says otherwise, they’re lying.)
Whatever you are facing, there is always hope. And we will hold on to hope until you’re able to grasp it yourself. If you’re thinking about suicide, 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.