I’ve been there – locked up in my room, sitting up against the wall, cradling my head in my hands as the tears continue to flow. Bright red face, runny nose, shaking hands and a headache that just won’t quit. I hear a voice so similar to my own telling me to end my life. And so I fight a war inside my head. Should I just give up? Or do I continue to fight?
September 10-16, 2017, is National Suicide Prevention Week in the United States. While I’ve always used this week to speak up and share my story, this is the first year I consider myself a true advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention.
This year, I’m also celebrating the fact I’m still alive – because there were so many days over the past several months when I didn’t think I would make it. Days when the pain seemed like too much to bear. Days when the voices in my head were relentless and terrifying. Days when I wanted to give up but chose to stay.
But I also realize that not everyone is so lucky. Not everyone has a strong support system or someone telling them they’re not alone. Not everyone gets the help they need to fight the demons in their head. Not everyone makes it out of their battle alive.
And that alone breaks my heart.
If you’re struggling with a mental illness or suicidal thoughts, here’s what I want you to remember – not just during National Suicide Prevention Week, but every single day.
I don’t need to know you to say this. Because if you’re still here fighting this battle, you are a warrior. And that is something to love and admire.
If you’re still here, it’s because you have a purpose and the world needs you.
And if this is the first time you’re hearing any of this, I am so so sorry.
Too often, we think others know how much they mean to us, and we never bother to tell them ourselves. But if there’s anything I’ve learned throughout my own journey, it’s that most of the time, people don’t realize just how loved they really are.
So, although we don’t say it out loud enough, I think it needs to be said: You are loved more than you could ever imagine. Someone needs you here. Your story matters. You matter. Please keep fighting.
I know you don’t feel like you’re doing anything special, especially on the days when you can barely get out of bed. But that’s the thing: When you have a mental illness, just waking up every day is something to be proud of.
Surviving takes so much strength, courage, passion and effort. Give yourself credit for that. Allow yourself to celebrate the fact that you’re here on this planet another day. You deserve it.
I know you feel like you’re all alone. Like there’s no one else out there who understands what you’re going through. Like no one is there for you when you need them the most.
But you aren’t – and you weren’t meant to weather these storms on your own There are people who want to help you and see you get better. But you need to tear down those walls and let them in first.
I know it’s scary, but when you do, you’ll gain the greatest support system – one you didn’t know you had and one you didn’t know you needed.
I know you don’t feel like you’re enough, but despite your struggles, you are good enough just the way you are.
You are a good enough son, daughter, mother, father, aunt, uncle, employee, coworker and friend. You are smart enough. Talented enough. Strong enough. Don’t let your mental illness tell you otherwise.
I know you feel like a burden to everyone around you. I know because I’ve been there. But I promise you that you weren’t meant to carry the weight of your struggles alone. There are countless people who want to help you. Let them.
Let them hold your hand and guide you through the darkness. Let them dry your tears, and let them pick you up when you fall.
Reach out to them when you’re struggling, and never apologize for it. Your life is worth it.
I know that right now, you feel like the darkness is forever. And there’s not much I can say to convince you otherwise. I’ve been there, so I get it.
But I’m going to say it anyway: You’re not always going to feel this way. Even though you can’t see the light, it’s there. Better days are ahead. One day, you’ll wake up, and it won’t be so damn hard to get out of bed.
So, keep pushing forward even when you’re tired. Tell yourself, “it will get better” – even if you don’t believe it. Because it does get better. And I want you to be here to see it happen.
I know you want to give up, and I know you feel like it’s the best thing to do – not just for yourself but for everyone around you, too. But please stay.
Stay for the moments you haven’t yet experienced. For the books you haven’t read, the people you haven’t met, the concerts you haven’t attended and the places you haven’t visited.
Stay for the better days that are still ahead. Stay and see things change. Stay to love and be loved. Stay to fearlessly chase your dreams.
Stay even when everything inside of you is screaming to give up.
Stay to get help – because you deserve so much more than what your mental illness leads you to believe.
Stay to live another day. You will be okay. Maybe not today or even tomorrow. But if you choose to stay, you’ll find out just how strong and brave you really are.
Stay and find what you were made for. Find your purpose. Find why you were meant to be here. Because trust me, you are meant to be here.
If there’s anything I want you to remember during National Suicide Prevention Week, it’s that the world would take a hit without you in it – because you are worthy of so much more than you can ever imagine right now. You deserve to be here. To take up space. To breathe and live and love.
You deserve to stay.
We're not doctors, therapists, counselors or mental health professionals. We didn't study psychology in school. But we are a 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.