And so I kept living

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, marking the start of Suicide Prevention Week–I feel like a hypocrite for even mentioning it. Because this last month and a half has been the worst time of my life mentally–my depression has come back with a vengeance, and coupled with the overwhelming anxiety I feel on the daily, it’s felt like a hurricane has ripped through my soul: total destruction everywhere, levees broken, the walls of my body destroyed. This last month and a half has seen countless panic attacks and flashbacks, overwhelming suicidal thoughts, me almost driving into a tree, and, unfortunately, it’s also seen me relapsing–self-harming again after not doing it in 7 years.

It’s also seen me reach out more–ask for help. Depression has this way of making me feel like I’m the worst person in the world; that I deserve everything that has happened to me. So, normally, I pull away, revert back into myself. Because here’s the thing: when the demons attack, sometimes I’m afraid that I won’t make it out of the battle. I pull away to soften the blow, to lessen the crater that my departure might leave. I’ve come to realize over this last month that when the bomb drops, people will get hurt whether I pull away or not–I’d rather confide in people and have them care about me than walk through this storm alone, even if sometimes I feel like an inconvenience. Even if I feel like letting people in, telling them what’s going on in my brain is a burden to them.

We all need people.

Even though you’re trying as hard as you can to pull away from people, they just won’t stop caring about you.

And so I kept living despite the feelings of inadequacy, the feelings of worthlessness, the thoughts in my head telling me I should not be here.

And so I kept living despite the thoughts I’ve had for as long as I can remember: I can’t go to school today because it’s going to burn down; I can’t get out of bed because the floor’s going to collapse; I can’t go out for recess because the world’s going to explode.

And so I kept living despite those thoughts that, apparently, most people do not have every day for their whole lives.

And so I kept living despite the shame of my past, the weight of it all, the regret, the hurt of what others have done to me and what I have done to myself.

And so I kept living despite the “I’m sorry”s, the number of times I’ve written and ripped up the words: To whoever finds this.

And so I kept living despite how scared I am of the dark, how weak I feel.

And so I kept living because if I didn’t, I never would have gone to Guatemala and led a young girl to Christ.

And so I kept living because the Buffalo Bills have not won a Super Bowl, and I’ll be darned if I kill myself before I see that.

And so I kept living because I want to fall in love, even though I’m terrified of being hurt.

And so I kept living because I still have so many jokes left in me to tell, so many words within me just waiting to be written, so much laughter left to burst forth from my mouth.

And so I kept living because of the cotton candy that paints the sky during sunrises and sunsets.

And so I kept living because there are so many books in this world I have not yet read, so many places I have not yet seen.

And so I kept living because sometimes all this pain that I’m feeling, all the hurt, remind me that I’m alive.

And so I kept living because the most vicious thunderstorms produce the most beautiful rainbows, and I want to be beautiful.

And so I kept living because I am not alone, and I have a God that is bigger than all my shame, all my hurt, all my fear.

And so I kept living because if I can help just person know they’re not alone, then let me do that.



You’re Better Off Dead

“If someone hates themself so much they want to die, they are better off dead.”

Those kind words were said in one of my first classes as a college student. Being the type of person that I am, I walked out. I walked out and never looked back.

People are rather ignorant these days when it comes to Depression. They can hear the statistics, they can know someone who is struggling, but they can never truly understand. So many people laugh it off and say, ‘it’s no big deal.’

It is a big deal. People who struggle with depression can become really good at hiding it on the outside, but the smiles, the laughs, the loudness doesn’t quell the battle going on inside.  It’s an exhausting fight: a fight that would be all too easy to end (but that would put us on the losing side, and humans don’t like to lose. But the thought is always still there, lying in wait in the back of our minds).

Depression is more than sadness and tears. Depression is the constant feeling of being numb. People who struggle with Depression don’t feel anything. We feel dead: a human void of emotion is no human at all. We wake up in the morning and dread getting out of bed (on our worst days, we can’t get out of bed). Days aren’t really days as much as they are obstacles that need to be tackled. And so we deal with them through medication, drugs, cutting, starving ourselves—anything that will make us feel something, anything other than nothing (because nobody wants to feel like they’re nothing, like they’re invisible and barely breathing).

That’s what Depression is: the overwhelming sense of numbness, and the desire for anything that can help us make it from one day to the next.

Some days we’re fine; other days, we’re not at all fine. And while the world around us is moving like normal, we are spinning in slow motion or just frozen in time. These are the days when the thoughts come back.

If I just swerved off the road here, if I just took a few extra pills, if I jumped down the stairs, it would all be over. I would be completely whole once again.

And then people tell us that “We shouldn’t be sad, because somebody always has it worse,” which is almost as bad as telling someone they can’t be happy because someone always has it better.

But, it’s not as bad because people enjoy being around happy people more than sad people.  Us sad people need friends too. We need to feel just as loved as the next person (except maybe more because we don’t love ourselves). And it’s not that  we are not capable of love. Because we are. We are capable of so much love, but we don’t know how to love ourselves.

And while everybody else is busy living their lives, we’re just trying to survive.

When I read my poem “Checkmate” at Youth Group, people came up to me afterwards and said, “I had no idea, I’m sorry, etc.” But now you do.

One last thing, if you tell me that everything that’s happened to me in my life is my fault, it’s not my fault that my fist ends up in your face.
I had no control over it; your ignorance was asking for it.

Believe in Heartbeats

Sometimes, when I lay down at night trying to sleep, I hear my heartbeat in my ear. It’s refreshing to hear my own heartbeat, because sometimes feeling it by putting my fingers to my wrist or my chest isn’t enough. Sometimes, hearing the steady percussion of my heartbeat is the best way to convince myself I am alive. I am alive because I’ve scraped my knees on sidewalks, driveways and bedtime prayers. I’ve fallen in like and I thought I fell in love. I’ve made friends; I’ve lost friends. I remember that I comes before e in friend because things come to an end. I’ve listened to every song on my iPod and Pandora on repeat because my soul is made of music. I’ve scraped my chin after launching over handlebars. I’ve had concussions after car accidents and sledding accidents. I’ve been in the ER twice: MRIs, CAT Scans, and Ultrasounds all prove that I’m alive.

I’m alive because I’ve stepped on sidewalk cracks. I’ve dried a rose from my Grandfather’s funeral as a reminder that death and heartache is real. I’ve planted messages to others in my favorite novels with the hope that someone will fall in love with the words as I did. I’ve cried over my favorite words that are now stained with teardrops and broken hearts. I’ve found beauty in lines of poetry because beauty shouldn’t be found in the eyes of others. I’ve caught fireflies in the dark as their light reminds me that there is always hope. I’ve gazed at the stars as I’ve contemplated my place in this world. I’ve danced in the rain and have fallen asleep to its music.

I’m alive because I’ve been afraid as I’ve realized my fears and phobias. There are days when I’m high as a cloud, and there are days when I’m as low as Death Valley. I’ve been at sea level, too, as I tread water. I’ve written and doodled until all my pens were out of ink and all my notebooks were full. I’ve used Chapstick until it was empty. I’ve made music until my fingers cramped up and my wrists were numb. I’ve clapped for myself when no one else would because I am capable of doing great things. I’ve compared the color of my bruises to the color of the sky at sunset. I’ve seen the sun rise as the birds collect their feathers to revive their dignity as they begin to sing their melodies. I’ve inspected baby birds closely as they take flight for the first time because, one day, when I collect enough feathers, I will fly with them.

I’m alive because I dream in vibrant colors that don’t have a place in this world, and I’ve dreamed about things that will never exist. I’ve run until my lungs struggle to breathe, until my legs have forgotten how to work. I’m alive because I believe in the power of words, and because my mind is never at rest. I’m alive because sometimes my heart beats too fast to fall asleep. I’ve worried about tomorrow, and I’ve wanted to change the past. I’ve fallen asleep on road trips, and I’ve been awake long enough to hear complete silence. I’ve cut open my skin with hate until blood trickles out of my veins made of my being, and I’ve stitched it all together with the needles of hope and faith. I’ve whispered to the wind as it carries my secrets and dreams to the next wishful ear.

I’m alive because I’ve been destroyed by fire from secondhand words, and I’ve been rebuilt by left-over, secondhand hope. I’ve written words on my bones because my voice will be around long after I’m gone. I’ve spoken foreign languages until the words became second nature to my brain. I’ve realized that the love of a family is strong enough to withstand the corroding winds of time. There are scars throughout my soul that spin tales of my struggles. These are the same scars that show that I’ve survived.

I’m alive because the steady beat of the bass in my headphones reminds me of my own heartbeat. Somebody once told me you could hear the ocean in shells even if you are hundreds of miles away. The same can be said of the string that connects hearts despite the miles and years that separate them.