Yesterday, a husband and wife were found dead in their trailer in Fort Myers, Florida. They were apparently the victims of a murder-suicide. A call was made by the male stating that he and his wife "could no longer stand the pain and that they were leaving." What led them to this point? What dreams did they have that they never accomplished? Who are they leaving behind? What stories do they have that will never be shared?
I don't know this couple, but their deaths happened where I live. They are unknown to me, and yet they both faced a struggle I know all too well. It's a struggle that I faced for many years, and one that will follow me throughout my life.
On Monday, To Write Love on Her Arms launched their campaign, No One Else Can Play Your Part, for National Suicide Prevention Week. The couple who died on Monday in Fort Myers represents thousands of others who die by suicide each year and the millions of others who suffer from depression.
We live in a world where we're told to play it off like everything's okay. We're told to "fake it 'til you make it" and that if you try hard enough, everything will get better. We're led to believe that depression and mental illness are something to be ashamed of. We're constantly told that we shouldn't be unhappy because there's someone else out there who has it worse than you do. But those are all lies. Here's the truth: You matter. Your story matters. The pain you feel is real, and it's validated by the things you've been through. Your struggles are nothing to be ashamed of, and they're all part of your story.
The pain of your past is not an indication of what tomorrow looks like. Your pain is only part of your story, but there's so much more to you than that.
This week, I'm joining thousands of people around the world to talk about depression, suicide and mental illness. These issues are very real to me, and anyone who has read through my blog knows that. If there's anything I've learned from my struggles and my journey, it's that I am important, and that no one else can play my part.
When others are silent, I am loud. I'm a passionate advocate for mental health, and I believe that sharing my story is the best way to break the stigma surrounding mental illness so that people can get the help they deserve. My strengths are my dogs – Hendrix, Khaleesi and Benny – and my hope is that tomorrow can be different.
We're not doctors, therapists, counselors or mental health professionals. We didn't study psychology in school. But wearea group of people living with mental illness, navigating recovery and learning how to take care of ourselves in the process. And because we know what it's like to do it alone, we believe you shouldn't have to.
Fight for Better Tomorrows was built on the belief that tomorrow can be different. We're here to share our stories and help you navigate recovery so you can fight for better tomorrows, too.