This week, the second week of September, is National Suicide Prevention Week in the United States. It corresponds with World Suicide Prevention Day, which is today, September 10. This week, and this day in particular, are annual campaigns that bring awareness to suicide prevention and support to people who have attempted suicide. They also reduce the stigmas surrounding mental illness and suicide.
Four months ago, I wrote a post about honesty and hope, inspired by a photograph that To Write Love on Her Arms founder Jamie Tworkowski posted. He was grateful for the opportunities he had been presented, the life he was living, but he still struggled with the hard things. This line from the caption still holds true for me: “Because i feel like my life should look different than it does.” When I first read Jamie’s words, my life felt stressful and frightening, filled with too many unknowns and too little hope. It still does. I still feel like my life should be different than it is–that I should have accomplished more, traveled more, lived more, experienced more. That I should have more together than I do.
“Because you are alive, everything is possible.” – Thích Nhất Hạnh
I am learning that it is okay that I do not have things as together as I would like. Don’t get me wrong… I think I would feel much more at ease if I had the perfect career and a place of my own and bills that paid themselves. But I am alive, and there is a world full of possibility because of that. Maybe I will discover buried treasure or stumble upon a time machine–maybe not. Maybe that book publisher I am dying to work for will call and offer me a dream job–maybe not. But my rabbits will likely greet me this morning with hugs and tiny kisses and my dog will probably cuddle up beside me as I fall asleep tonight. The young girl I babysit could make me laugh until my eyes are filled with tears. A passing stranger may brighten my day by holding a door. Those possibilities, and the hope that lies within, are reasons to hold on.
Life is rarely easy. It has its highs and lows, taking each of us soaring on the way up and falling on the way down. There are some mornings when getting out of bed seems impossible. The thought of facing the day holds too much struggle, too much pressure, too much everything. But there is something to be said for the people who get up anyway. Those who push, claw, and fight, with every fiber of their being, to wake up each day. To live through each day. To go to sleep at night and then wake up the next day to do it all over.
To my family and friends who have struggled with mental illness and suicide… To anyone who has battled depression, addiction, or any other demons… Thank you for fighting as hard as you have. For holding on to hope. For taking another breath when it felt like the world (or your mind) would soon crush you underneath its weight. And if you think that the world does not care about you or your story, you are wrong. You are loved and you are worth it–every second. You are not alone.
Thank you for being alive. I am so glad that you are still here.
If you or someone you know are struggling with depression, mental illness, or suicidal thoughts, please reach out–to family, friends, mental health professionals, or crisis workers. In the United States and Canada, you can call the 24-hour, toll-free National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).