As I’m writing this, my hands are shaking. Part of it is the jitters of caffeine, but part of it is what I’m about to say. I’ve debated for a really long time if I should officially disclose this information about myself, or if it didn’t need to be disclosed.
I’ve alluded to it, or directly referenced it, in past blogs, but I don’t know how much my readers realize that those little asides are not wit, but reality.
A few weeks ago, I reached my one-year anniversary on antidepressants. I suffer from depression and depression-based anxiety, and have for as long as I can remember. But it only has become really unbearable twice in my life: when I was coming out of the closet at fifteen, and when I began college. The spring of my freshman year into the fall of my sophomore year of college, I was a complete and absolute wreck. And in January of 2015, I decided to officially seek out medication, because my living situation had become completely unbearable.
All of this has been going on for years, but that’s not really why I’m writing this. I had considered writing this for my one-year anniversary as a happy, “Yay, look at what I have accomplished” celebratory kind of post. But I cannot write that now.
In the last two weeks, two students, sophomores, from my alma mater high school have committed suicide. And now I don’t write this post for me, but for them and for others considering suicide. And as the community of my high school, current students and alumni and teachers and parents come together, I think that to not write out what I’m feeling would be to let this pass by.
I won’t go into the nitty-gritty of my own journey, because that still feels too personal for me to discuss. But I think to say nothing would be an incredible disservice to people who are suffering, and would be absolutely selfish on my part.
I don’t think people realize my history with depression, because I am usually perky and witty and laughing. I do not follow the typical attributes of a depressive; I am active, highly productive, and outgoing. I call it being a “high-functioning depressive.” And that personality fools a lot of people, which I typically like. But it also means that I look like I have my shit together. I don’t. I don’t think anyone who struggles with mental illness really does. We are all just trying to be our best self, every day. And it’s hard. And it’s tiring.
And I didn’t think that the deaths of those two sophomores, whom I have never met, would affect me like it has. And originally, it didn’t. But it sunk into my bones, underneath my skin. Because when I was fifteen, I was those boys. I was depressed. I was desperate. I was lost. I was drowning.
I remember distinctly sitting in a guidance counselor’s office at sixteen, choking on unshed tears because I could feel my chest was caving in. I was drowning in my depression. And when my depression resurged at eighteen, I also considered suicide. Not in an active, “this is how I’ll do it” kind of way. It was passive. It was, “I wish I didn’t have to wake up.” It was the desperate desire to escape my own body. It was mathematical. A car can only go so far on a finite number of gasoline. A body can only go so long on a certain amount of life. And I was tired of running on fumes.
But both times my depression has been back-breakingly, inescapably traumatic, I made the bravest decision I think anyone struggling can make. I reached out. I asked for a hand. I asked someone to help stop me from drowning.
And so I urge you to do what some people cannot. I urge you to reach out. Find someone. Find anyone. Open up the gates. Let someone in. Depression is a beast that makes you think you are alone. It tricks you into thinking that no one cares, that death is easier. More appealing. But that’s not true. Reach out. Go to a therapist. Go to a parent. Go to an adult. Go to a friend. Go to a counselor. Find someone to help you because you are infinitely important. You are important because your fight and clinging to life is what helps me cling when I feel like letting go.
You are important because you are a part of us. You are a part of me. And I need you. I need you to live because I want you to live. If you are suffering, reach out. Find me. Find someone like me. Let me help you. Let me find you support. I feel like if I didn’t say anything now, if I let this pass by without a word, I would be betraying those who still fight. I would be betraying fifteen-year-old me, who curled in a ball on his bedroom floor, sobbing into himself. I would be betraying eighteen-year-old me, who wanted so desperately to sink into sleep and never wake up.
I am okay now because I found help. I got up and searched. For me, my answer was antidepressants. It might not be for everyone. But it might be. Life will never be easy, especially for someone with mental illness. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful and worthwhile. Fight for it. Fight for that breath of air that gives you hope to keep swimming. Keep swimming. Help me. Let me help you.
And for the boys who committed suicide, I am sorry that there was no one that you felt could hear your voice. I’m sorry. And I hurt for you, and I hurt for your families. I hope that they find solace, or some peace or some release for their pain.
And for anyone who is struggling, there are an infinite numbers of sources. Go to your guidance counselor, if you’re in high school. Go to your health center, if you’re in college. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You are loved and cherished and you will be grieved over if you leave. Hold on. Call for help. It’s there. I promise. You won’t be like this forever. Please hold on.