(potential content warning)
I remember it like it was yesterday.
It was early 2016, and I was in the eighth grade. I genuinely felt as though I had everything going for me: I was earning good grades, I found a love for the game of golf, and I had phenomenal relationships with my friends and family. Everything seemed to be going my way, and I felt as though nothing could change that.
That all changed one winter morning in February and felt…different. The passion that I had felt towards golf suddenly vanished, which proved to be an enormous warning sign.
However, I assumed that I was simply burnt out of the game. I had played every second of every minute I had for years on end, and burnout seemed logical given the circumstances. I decided to attempt to let these feelings simmer down, and I refrained from telling anyone about the way I felt. I was under the impression that repressing my emotions would lead to my recovery, and I believed that everyone around me would view me as a coward if I said anything about it.
As the weeks went on, I started to feel increasingly worse. I quickly went from not wanting to participate in activities I once enjoyed to an emptiness that consumed who I was. I lived in a constant, inescapable fog. No matter what anyone said to me, I always felt lonely and empty. I firmly believed that no one loved me, and that I did not matter to others around me, including my closest friends and family.
Yet, as these feelings worsened, I was still too scared to tell anyone. I was afraid of what was going on in my mind, but I was horrified of how people would react if I spoke up about it. I sat in my bed nightly contemplating whether my life was worth living and questioning why this was all happening to me. Just a few months prior, I had felt like I was on the top of the world. Now, I felt like I was a failure to myself and everyone around me.
After much consideration, I finally decided to tell my parents what was going on. This entire process was much easier said than done. It took weeks to decide whether it was something I wanted to pursue or not. I quite frankly had no clue how they would react to the things I was feeling.
Fortunately, it could not have gone any better. I felt a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders, and for the first time in months I was hopeful about my future. My issues did not go away entirely, but it was an important first step to my recovery. This conversation also gave me the confidence to reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, as well as the Crisis Text Line. I credit them both into being important reasons as to why I am still alive today.
After consulting with a licensed psychologist in my area, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. It was a tough pill to swallow, but it was a relief to finally be able to put a name to what I was feeling.
Since then, I have been in and out of therapy and have also been admitted into a partial hospitalization program to help me with my depression and anxiety. It hasn’t been an easy journey, and I am still most definitely in recovery, but I am proud of the progress I have been able to make thus far. If there is anything that I have learned throughout this long and painful journey, it is this: when I was struggling with suicidal thoughts, I did not want to die. Instead, I wanted my life as I knew it to end. Help is always available, and your life is precious.
Before I finish this, it is important for me to ask a simple favor of you; don’t compare my story to others. It is simply unfair and unjust to make comparisons between experiences and illnesses that are so radically different from person to person. The last thing we should be doing is diminishing the feelings of others, and making them feel as though they have had it “better” or “worse” than someone else. Your feelings are valid, and you have every right to feel the way that you do.
If you or someone you know is struggling, reach out. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7/365 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You are never alone.