As a mental health advocate I dedicate my life to educating people about the importance of good mental health and fighting to end stigma surrounding mental illness. In honor of Suicide Prevention Week, I believe it is incredibly important that we take this opportunity to communicate with one another about our struggles, so that we are reminded that we are not alone. Anytime social media shines a light on mental health issues, it is crucial that we work together to educate people around the world.
I don’t pretend to know what it’s like to be suicidal. I do however have a fairly deep understanding of what it’s like to simply not want to exist.
There have been days when I wake up and the thought of simply existing, feels like too much.
This has happened many times before, and will probably happen again. I’ve been in treatment for depression for years. I have researched, learned and regularly practice every tool that helps manage depression symptoms, and they’re pretty effective for the most part. Until they’re not. That is often true for a lot of different kinds of mental illness treatment.
The trouble with depression is that there are days when all the tools and tricks in the book just don’t cut it. And the symptoms come around, and stay for a bit. There are times when you do the exercises, you go to therapy, you take the pills and depression still comes around. I can’t say I’ve found a solution for when that happens, but what I have found that helps me get through it is the certainty that it won’t last. It won’t, I promise. It never lasts.
Even when it feels like everything is too much, that things are unbearable and you truly don’t see how it could ever get better, just know that it does. If you have to just keep repeating that to yourself, until you actually believe it, do so. Keep repeating it to yourself “this will pass”. Shout it out if you have to “this feeling won’t last”.
Your mental illness is whispering lies in your ear, don’t believe them!
Instead try to remind yourself of the truth, which is that, yes, it will get better. This will pass. You are worthy of happiness. You are loved. You matter. Keep repeating this to yourself for as long as you need to. And that doesn’t mean you have to go through this alone. I know it can feel like it’s impossible to ask for help, that you may not think anyone cares, but trust me, someone does care. You do matter and depression is a liar for making you believe otherwise. Speak to someone you trust, a friend, a family member, a medical professional, call a help line, text them if you can’t talk about it. It’s not an easy task, but it’s worth it.
While you’re going through the hardest of times stay focused on all that makes life worth living, even if it’s the smallest thing.
The simplest things are really what makes it worth it. Think about anything that at some point in your life has made your heart smile, like your dog who runs to you and licks your face, to whom you are the whole world. Your cat who lays on your lap and purrs while you pet it, letting you know that it wants you to stay right there because your presence is welcome. That good friend with whom you can talk for hours on end. That one teacher who was kind to you. That feeling of butterflies in your stomach when the person you have a crush on enters the room. The sun setting on the horizon and all the beautiful colors spread all over the sky. Eating a meal made with care by someone you love. Walking along the beach feeling the sand between your toes and hearing the waves crashing on the shore. Hearing birds chirping during the first week of spring. That first snowfall of the season when the snowflakes are light and fluffy. Cozying up in a soft warm scarf during the first days of fall. Listening to your favorite song and singing along because you know every word. Laying on a hammock and watching the clouds go by. The smell of a brand new book or a box of colored pencils, or crayons. The taste of a hot cheesy slice of pizza. Planting something and watching it grow. Biting into a really juicy piece of fruit. Being hugged by someone you love, when they hold you tight and make you feel safe and warm. Being told “I love you”.
Stay focused on things that at any point have made your heart smile, until the hard times pass. You’re not alone, and you don’t have to go through it alone. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it, and it will get better. It always does.