Love in a Time of Hate

“This will always be the land of the free, so long as it is the home of the brave.”

-Elmer Davis

I don’t know when our differences became bricks we used to wall ourselves in and close ourselves off from one another. I don’t know when we decided that we must scream to be heard in a world that is already far too loud. I don’t know when belittling another’s opinion made us feel more emboldened with our own. I have no idea when we decided that the world had to be seen in black and white, right and wrong; without the shades of gray I’ve always so dearly loved. We drew a line and determined that everyone must take a step, make a stand, choose a side. And then grab a stone to hurl towards the other crowd. All while forgetting that we know so many faces over there. If we demonize them and their ideals, then we can forget the people underneath. We seem to forget that this country of ours is not a comic book- we do not have heroes and villains. We have people. Perfectly flawed people with beautifully varied colors that shade our background and our perspectives. When did we decide that we had to prove the other side wrong to believe in our hearts that we are right? When did we determine that there had to be a wrong answer?

Because tonight, I am exhausted. I am disheartened, I am frustrated. The worst part of this whole mess: we did this. We are still doing this. We want to point the finger at someone, we want to cast blame and doubt, we want to force the other side to concede when they feel just as righteous as we do. We are chasing each other around in circles and we don’t even recognize that the hate we are pointing out in them is also being mirrored in ourselves.

I don’t care who you voted for, just as you don’t care which box I checked on that piece of paper. It doesn’t matter. No lines need to be drawn on my sand, there is no tallied score. We do not need to tear one another down to build ourselves up. We do not need to search the darkest corners of the other’s camp, and hold their worst up into the light as a glaring example of what is wrong with them and their opinions. Because these dark corners- they do not make up the whole of our respective camps. You can not paint millions of people with one brush. Those shadows- they are only a small percentage, they do not define the group.

I am not a democrat. I am not a republican. I am not a conservative. I am not a liberal. I do not wear a label like a name tag. My views land all over that beautiful board we call democracy. What happened to us? How long have we required a title; locking someone up in a box with a small description of the contents- we do not belong in a zoo. ‘Over here you will see the moral fallacies of the Republican Party, and if you take a left at the Statue of Liberty you will behold the dark lair of the Democrat and their misguided ideology.’ No. This is not us. This is not the country that I have always loved, this is not the country that I was raised to believe in.

Not every person who voted for Trump is a racist. They do not all hate the LGBT community. They do not all feel that women are objects to be used and thrown away. Just the same way that not every person who voted for Clinton is corrupt, on a witch hunt for your guns, or a ‘libtard crybaby,’ if I have my terminology correct. Yes, there are some that fall into these categories, but I do not believe that they are the majority. If anyone would take just a moment to stop and actually listen to someone of the opposing opinion without interrupting to explain why their views are better- then maybe they would come to this same conclusion. The point that I am trying to make is that, if you speak to people on either side of the line, you will realize that both have a deep misunderstanding of what is important to those opposing them. It is fueled by fear and misinformation. We need to stop assigning labels to people and inferring their beliefs and opinions based on these snap judgments. We do not belong in boxes. We do not need to drag others through the mud in order to bring more credence to our own beliefs.

Wasn’t that the beauty of this country? We were a haven for those who didn’t belong, those who were persecuted for their beliefs, for their views, for their way of life. We spilled our blood to defend our right to maintain our own opinions without fear. And here we are- destroying each other and everything that we hold dear.

There is a difference between maintaining your views and being respectful of another’s. We are not monsters here, none of us are. And if we took away the labels, perhaps we would begin to realize that our views really aren’t that far apart. Perhaps we would begin to see the path that needs to be followed. Perhaps we would find our compassion again and rediscover the beauty that we used to see in one another long enough to listen- truly listen- with an open mind, without pre-recorded objections and insults to shoot out randomly like poisoned barbs.

We are scared of one another- in a country that prides itself on bravery, we are terrified. Is that it- is that the crux of our anger? Because we don’t know what will happen and we don’t recognize the world that we’ve always lived in. We lost our compassion. I believe that we have a responsibility to one another. We have to look out for each other. We have to protect one another and our rights.

I will admit that I am afraid for us, for my friends, for the values that I stand for; but I am not alone. So to those of you who are in fear because of the color of your skin, your nationality, your religion, your gender, your sexual orientation- for those of you who feel exposed and unprotected in a world that suddenly feels so cold- I stand with you. I stand for you. I will not watch from a distance as you are screamed at, pushed, threatened or hurt. I will fight for you with every fiber of my being. Because I believe in you. I believe in your rights. I believe that you make us better, stronger, more compassionate. I believe that you bring light to a dark part of our society. In a world where you feel like your voice is being lost, I will listen. And to those of you who are afraid for your right to free speech, religion, the right to bear arms- I will protect you. I will not stand idly by if you are unjustly called a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, a xenophobe. I will defend you when you are in fear of retaliation for ideals that you personally do not hold. Whether your belief systems align with mine or not- I will not let someone harm you. Because I believe in peace, I believe in leading by example. I believe in treating others as I wish to be treated. I believe that we are responsible for creating the world that we wish to live in.

In Portland yesterday there was a protest that devolved into a riot. It made international news- there was damage, and as I drove by the city today I could not miss the signs of hate left behind. But what you probably didn’t hear about are the volunteers who got up early today to clean up their city. They did not go to the protest, though many of them supported the protestors. They were not responsible for the damage. But they did not want to see their city hurt or torn apart by hate. So they cleaned, they painted, they erased the harm and brought back the beauty. The peaceful protestors that started the event did not condone the violence that erupted. And yet, though they did not personally resort to violence themselves, they still chose to raise money to pay for the damages. They raised $10,000 in one day. They took responsibility for the world they wanted to live in. These are not things that you will probably hear reported in the news. But these are the people that we must emulate- these are the one who responded to hate with love. They do not question who is right or who is worthy of their respect. They do not cast blame for what has happened. They simply want to see their community thrive. This is what we need. We need to protect each other. We need to respect each other. And we need to remember that our differences are the very things that make us so formidable. United we stand, divided we fall. I do not have to agree with you to respect you.

No more hate. Our candidates have dropped their stones, the mud has stopped flying. That does not mean that we need to pick them up and continue this bitter war. We must stay vigilant; we must still protect our ideals. But we do not have to destroy each other in the process. We are past the point of ‘us’ versus ‘them.’ No, now we must come together. The time for fighting is gone, the dice was cast and we have a future to work on. Now we need to look forward and have an open discussion. We have come too far to fall apart now. We are worth too much to destroy ourselves.

Work Isn’t Everything

We live in a society where we are expected to do it all, to have it all, to be fueled by some mysteriously ever-burning fire that will propel us to new heights. We are told that if we do not hit the ground running then we are lazy. We are told that working over 40 hours a week is the only way to achieve those illusive dreams. We watch people who have their fingers in so many pies that they don’t even know what flavors they have stuck under their fingernails. We are used to pushing, to fighting, believing with the very fiber of our being that if we work hard enough, we will be able to achieve anything. This advice, while not wrong, can be somewhat misleading. We work hard hoping that someday we will play hard. We are so used to clawing our way to the top that we forget to look around.

There is a season for everything, we are told, and yet we are constantly attempting to reap what we have hurriedly sowed. I am no different from the rest of my generation. I work my ass off in the hopes that it will help me build my name, cement my reputation and get me where I have always dreamed of going. And then something happened that forced me to throw a flag on the field. There is a season for everything, and sometimes you have to remember your priorities. You have to pay attention to where you have run. You have to stop and take a breath.

On a Thursday night as I drove home I could hear my phone buzzing periodically as I listened to my audiobook. When I finally pulled into my driveway I turned off my car and looked down, seeing my siblings and mom’s names. I expected a group chat about something- perhaps about my brother’s wedding that was a couple of days away, or a reminder for a family dinner. Swiping it open, I was soon proven gravely wrong. My mom was on her way to the Emergency room, per the insistent instruction of her doctor. We didn’t know what was wrong, we didn’t know how serious it could be, we just knew she was scared and required immediate help.

We went to the hospital and waited with other family members in a surprisingly busy waiting room. We waited for some indication of what was happening, we waited for some word that would give us a direction. We waited and we waited. I eventually texted a few of my friends/co-workers, needing someone to talk to, someone to send good vibes our way. Immediately a close co-worker sent me a private message letting me know that if I needed to take the next day off, he would make arrangements to cover my work- something that I know is damn near impossible given the fact that we have been short staffed for far too long and Fridays are the busiest days of the week. Right off the bat I told him that I would be there, even if I didn’t get any sleep. It wasn’t until after I sent it that I stopped and looked at the words that I had typed. When had that become me? When did I become the girl who would drop family to go to work? When did I become the one that put everything else on hold? At what point in my life did I turn into the girl who would leave her mother in the emergency room to go spend over eight hours in an office?

In emergencies I am always the utilitarian one. I fall apart in private, I don’t like crying in front of people and I am not cut from the type of cloth that lends me to panicking easily. At hospitals I am usually the one with positive things to say who is taking coffee orders and reminding people to eat a sandwich, even if they don’t feel hungry. I am the one running through the list of items that the hurt person may need- do they have fresh socks? Will they need a pair of tennis shoes when they get released? Has everyone been notified? I find tasks for myself to do because I can’t stand just sitting there. I would like to think that my initial reaction to go to work during this crisis was something that fell into this category- this desire to keep myself busy. But I don’t know.

It’s true that I have the kind of job now where dependability is not an option- its not a box you can check one day and not the next. Calling in sick because I just don’t feel like facing a Tuesday is not an option, hell calling in sick because I am actually sick is treading on some thin ice. I am the coverage. I am the one that you call when you decide that you can’t face Tuesday. I am the one that has to be dependable when others are not. But that is not everything.

I came to the sudden realization that I don’t want to be that person- I have never been that person. I am the one who will drop anything for anyone. I have taken time away to get my dad to the doctor, I am the one that you call when you need help- I’m that kind of dependable. I don’t want to be the one that is so focused on climbing a ladder that I miss out on time with those that enrich my daily life.

Perspective is everything. There is a time to push and to fight, and there is a time to take a step back and recognize the things that make your light shine. I am nothing without the people in my life. My job will continue on whether I am there or not. I am replaceable. They survived without me before, and they could easily do it again. But I only have one mom, and as terrifying as the thought is, we all only have so much time we are allotted to spend with those that we love. My life needs to reflect my views and my morals. My job is not my life, my family is. And while I will always go above and beyond with my work, there are lines that should not be crossed. Sometimes it takes a terrifying moment to remember that.

Luckily for me, she is okay. There will be more tests, there will be more changes, but she will be okay. And I will be thankful knowing that I have more time to spend with those that I love, and a reminder that my job is not the end-all-be-all of my life. I can be a good employee and a good daughter. I can be there for those that need me when it is important. I can work my ass off day in and day out, I can leave my day job and come home to type away for my passion a couple of hours. But its important to remember the balance. It’s important to keep your heart open for those that need you, for those that you need.

3 a.m. in the Emergency Room

I didn’t expect to find myself dodging the beginnings of a political debate at 3:50am in the waiting room of the ER, but alas, that was exactly where I found myself last night (er- this morning?). Don’t worry- everyone is just fine, all will be well in time. Although I must admit, I am beginning to get a bit concerned with how much time I have spent in these waiting rooms in the past year- I am one flu away from wrapping my entire family up in bubble wrap and locking them securely in a safe until I determine that they are ready to rejoin healthy society.

You never know what to expect when you wake up each morning, what adventures will await you, what twists will turn your personal novel in a new direction? We tend not to think about such topics all that often, because we would simply drive ourselves insane with the possibilities. But five hours in the waiting room gives one time to ponder the questions of life that you typically do not ask yourself. Yesterday morning I crawled out of bed excited that it was finally Friday, and for the first time in weeks, I would be able to make it to happy hour with my friends afterwards. I pushed through a rather dull work day and then enjoyed a couple of drinks with friends at our favorite Irish pub.

After coming home I indulged in a rare treat: a hot bath with my latest book, followed by fuzzy pajamas and cozy blankets. I was just settling in to relax and do a bit of writing when my phone rang. At 10:30pm I left to go pick up my dad and take him to the Emergency Room. Ironically, I had been wanting to go out this weekend to visit with him- but this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. I didn’t make it back home until 7am on Saturday morning. Personally, I am impressed with my ability to stay awake. You have to understand- I am not a morning person, nor am I a night owl. I’m the type of girl who rocks mid-afternoon, and occasionally falls asleep while folding laundry at 9:30 (that happened to be my Thursday night, in fact). So for me to manage to stay wide away and functioning on a high enough caliber to operate a motor vehicle- for 26 hours straight- that was an achievement. I can’t really remember the last time I pulled an all-nighter. Probably because my poor psyche has blocked it from my mind.

There is nothing more colorful than a late night at the Emergency Room. You have all walks of life. The upset family of the woman that either drove drunk and got hurt, or simply drank so much that she required hospitalization (I couldn’t quite tell, but they were all rather distraught), the older church lady and her calming husband coming in because she broke her foot. The guy who was so high he had convinced people he couldn’t stand on his own two feet- not until he was faced with the prospect of being pushed around in a wheelchair (that was when the ‘miraculous recovery’ happened). The woman close to my age who offered me a page from her adult holiday-themed color book. The political debate that reared it’s head at 3:50am and went on for the next half hour. I was quick to whip out my book and bury my nose in it to avoid that particular hurdle. No good can come of middle-of-the-night politics with strangers. Luckily it was the church lady’s husband who got involved, and he was a pleasant, calming man, who was able to take a fiery debate and get people laughing. Then there was the lady with paranoid ideations explaining how her brain worked- surprisingly interesting, actually. Yes, the emergency room is a colorful clashing of all types, different people all in distress. And yet, they were all surprisingly supportive of one another, all listening attentively and taking turns speaking. Even at 4:00 in the morning.

People never fail to surprise me. We talk so often about the sad state of the world, about politics that divide and conquer, about lines drawn in the sand, biases, discrimination, riots, war, anger, frustration. We shake our heads in dismay. And yet, most people are not that way. Most people will offer a color book page to a stranger, they’ll help a near-catatonic man get up from his seat and get in the wheelchair- no judgment on what substances he put in his body to get him to that point. They just help. They offer condolences for pain, and luck for quick recoveries. Most people are inherently good. Most people will wave a goodbye when you finally are released to go back through those double doors.

Now, perhaps my nostalgic view is partially due to the fact that I got a minimal amount of sleep after I got home- in Washington state, you do not simply sleep through one of the few sunny fall days you are granted. Today is one of those rare beauties, and dang it, I will make it to a pumpkin patch this year without being rained out. So I got up, I got dressed, I drank a cup of coffee (soon to be many more), and I’m ready to push forward through my day. Because life waits for no one. And mid-afternoon naps can be delicious things if done correctly.

So far this weekend has not been what I anticipated, and yet, life rarely hands you the cards that you are expecting to play. This weekend was not what I had planned for, and yet in a bizarre twist of fate, it was exactly what I needed. I have been surrounded lately with friction, with tense moments and frustrated people, with arguments and biting words. I needed a restoration of my faith in people. We discover our humanity in the smallest of moments, not in grand sweeping gestures. It is in a perfectly timed smile, a nod of acknowledgement in a world where we all too often feel invisible. It’s in the few dollar bills it takes for one person to buy someone they don’t know a cup of coffee or a bottle of water. It’s in the straightforward conversations between two strangers on faith, life and love. Even at 4:30 in the morning in a sterile room. It is in the understanding that other’s needs might come before your own- so you wait patiently for five hours and secretly thank your lucky stars that your condition was not so serious to warrant being whisked straight to a back room. It is in the understanding that, after all is said and done, we are in this together. We can lift one another up or watch each other fall. The world is beautiful, even in the starkest of places.

So today I will grab another cup of coffee, I will check on my dad, I will pull on my rubber boots and squish my way through the mud to find a beautiful pumpkin. I will bring it home and decorate it with the family while eating the Halloween cookies that I’ve hidden on top of the fridge. I will make more memories, I will make my mark, and I will smile at the strangers that I encounter, I will buy a cup of coffee for the person waiting patiently behind me. We are all doing the best that we can. Perhaps if we simply decided that the act of trying was, in itself, enough- then maybe we could find some peace with one another.

Keeping the Darkness at Bay: My Battle with Depression

If I could have changed things I would have. Don’t think that this was all something that I wanted. I could not escape the prison I had created and I was slowly suffocating. It was like pounding on a brick wall, no matter how bloody my fists got, I couldn’t just give up. But we all have our point of no return. We can only bend so far before we break, and I shattered into a million pieces. I’m sorry I wasn’t strong enough, I’m so damn sorry you are paying for my mistakes now. This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen.  You were always my world, and it destroys me to know I could be hurting you. But you’re tough, you’ll do just fine. I know you- you will do more than just survive; you will thrive. You were always so much stronger than I was. And one day you will look back on me as nothing more than a distant memory, far removed from whatever amazing life you have led. You’ll realize I was meant to be nothing more than a minor detour. You’ll be better on your own. I promise. But I’ll always be here, watching over you. Like a moth to a flame, I’ve never been able to resist you. So take comfort- what I couldn’t do in life, I shall do in death. I’ll be your angel now, guarding you from any harm this world may dare to bestow on you. I love you, now and forever. And I am so sorry. I’ll make sure you’ll be okay.

I wrote this when I was sixteen; this was one of the many snippets of the many letters that I started and stopped. At the time I found myself trapped in a very dark place; I was mired down in that pit for a long time- years even. Chronic depression- that’s what they would have call it- if I had ever told anyone how I felt. But I didn’t. Every day I painted on a plastic smile and went about my regular activities, I played pretend and acted like nothing was wrong. When someone would ask questions I would laugh and brush the comment away with a generic reply. No one could know about the darkness that had invaded my soul and taken up residence. No one could find out what I was inside. I was supposed to be a golden girl, anything less than perfection was not acceptable. I was not the kind of girl that stumbled, I was not the kind of girl that fell. And I sure as hell wasn’t the kind of girl to ask for help. I was stronger than that. I didn’t talk about it. Instead I wrote every feeling out and hid the pages away in a notebook.

I’ve been going back and forth on whether I should even write this post; these are deeply personal moments in my life that very few people know about. Should I really take something this sensitive and toss it out there for anyone to find? Am I really at a stage in my life where I am confident enough to own the darkness that I held? Am I brave enough to stand here and proclaim for all to hear that I used to think these things? That I was a breath away from acting on those thoughts? I am terrified; mainly because even after all this time, I am still afraid of hurting the people close to me, I am afraid of letting them see this side of me that I hid for so long. But if there’s anything that life has taught me, it’s that when you have an opportunity to help someone else, you grasp it with both hands and you don’t let go. Today is National Suicide Prevention Day. And so, it seems only right that I take today to show you a piece of my soul that rarely sees the light of day.

I wish I could say that there was one culminating moment that led me to this path; but there wasn’t. There was a multitude of different things, some large, some small; but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter. No, it’s not about what led me to the road that I travelled, it’s about what happened when I was on it. It’s about being able to recognize the signs within yourself and those around you. That kind of darkness can swallow you whole, and no one is immune. I was a ‘good girl,’ which was perhaps a part of the problem. I was not the kind of girl who was sad or angry- not on the outside.

Every day was a game of masks; I would paint on my plastic smile every morning with an expert hand, making sure I looked as bright and shiny as the world wanted me to be. I laughed, I joked, I said all the right things at exactly the right time. But it meant nothing. At the end of the day I was empty. I just wanted the pain to stop, I just wanted a reprieve. I prayed to a God I wasn’t sure I believed in to make it stop. And then one day, I got what what I asked for. It only proved that you should be careful what you wish for. The tears may have been gone, but I was numb inside. 

You see, there is something that people don’t always know about depression; there is a point beyond the pain, something that is even more terrifying that the daily anguish in your soul. You reach a point where your body and mind cannot physically process it anymore; that’s when the numbness sets in. It sounds like it would be a relief, finally an end to the pain. But it isn’t. You see, there’s something wholly unhuman about the numbness, something scary and incomplete. When you are in pain then at least you are feeling; and when you are feeling, that means you are still alive. That means there is something inside of you that is still fighting to survive. But the numbness is all-encompassing. It makes you feel like you are already dead inside. There is an eerie calm to it, one that still sets my soul on edge. I will take a river of tears over blank stares any day. If there a destructive behavior that I could try; then I did- if only to force myself to feel something, anything- that would convince me I still had something to fight for. I was a shell, I would give anything to feel again.

I mentioned earlier that I was hesitant to even post this because of the people in my life and how it would impact them. People don’t fully comprehend the conflicting emotions you feel for your loved ones when you are lost in the depths of depression. I love the people in my life with a fierce passion; if you know someone fighting this battle, know that it isn’t about you and how you love them. I knew on a fundamental level that my friends and my family loved me; and I felt an immense amount of guilt over my own self-loathing. It was never that I didn’t love them enough, it was that I didn’t love myself enough. They were collateral damage; it was about me and how I could live my life. I worried about them, but when I was lost in that maze, I genuinely believed that they would be better off without me. It didn’t matter what they said, I didn’t know how to view myself as a worthwhile human being. Your self-perception becomes skewed, you can convince yourself that the whole world would be better off without you. It doesn’t mean that I don’t love them with every fiber of your being. It just means that you don’t know how to love and protect yourself the same way. They are two distinct ideas.

I didn’t think I would live to 17, I didn’t expect that I would walk with my class in graduation or find a regular Monday through Friday job. Inside I secretly hoped for some kind of accident, that way my family could believe that I hadn’t wanted it. They could be comforted in their image of who I was, and no one would ever have to know that it was the fate I wanted at the time. Looking back now, at 27, I am amazed to see how far I have come. I couldn’t picture my life at this stage, when I tried there was just a blank void staring back at me. I thought I would be a statistic, one of those sad stories that people only thought of fleetingly during their high school reunion ‘Oh, do you remembe her? How tragic, it makes you really wonder who she’d be today.’

I don’t know what changed, much like how it started, there was no definitive ‘end.’ I didn’t have a eureka moment when I realized that I was suddenly happy. I didn’t wake up one day to birds chirping while the sun danced through my window and proudly proclaim that life was suddenly worth living. It was so gradual, I didn’t even notice. And even today I am afraid to believe it. I was lost in that world for so long, and something like that leaves a mark on the soul. I am not ashamed of my experiences, no, they are my red badge of courage. But I am always afraid that these past couple years were just a reprieve and I will slip again. I am always aware of my emotions, I am always in tune with those moments where I need to step back and take a break from my life. It was lifting your head above the water line when you thought you were drowning. It was a battle I fought every day. I had to stand up for myself, take a deep look inside and discover who I was and who I wanted to be. I had to fill that blank future with something to give me hope. I had to change.

I don’t think there is a human in existence that hasn’t felt the pull of the darkness. I don’t think there is a single soul out there that hasn’t felt the icy touch of depression on their heart. We all know what it feels like, but we don’t talk about it. Everyone’s answer to escape is different. For me, it was all about self-reflection. I wrote constantly, I bled the poison out of my system one word at a time. I found things to keep me busy, to make me proud. I discovered the art of zen living. I found something in myself worth saving, something that I had all along and never realized.

If you know of someone who you even just fleetingly suspect might be going through this; reach out. You don’t have to say anything profound or deep, you don’t have to confront them even- in fact it’s best if you don’t. Just talk to them. I remember one really bad day where I was very seriously considering giving in to a bad outcome. And then the phone rang. It was one of my friends- we hadn’t been as close, but she still called. Just to say hi, just to talk on a rainy Saturday. That was all it took to pull me back from the ledge. Just a simple ‘hello.’ I have never told her that she probably saved my life that day with just one word. This wasn’t ever a subject we discussed. Perhaps I will someday.

So please, if there is nothing else that you take from this, just pay attention to one another. Show each other kindness, because you never know what monsters someone may be facing. I was a golden girl; and while I wasn’t popular or anything like that; I was the last person you would expect to be dealing with these demons. And I dealt with them for about four years. That’s a long time to feel like you are in hell. That’s a long time to be pushing that boulder up a hill. That’s a long time to hurt silently. So smile, say hi, ask someone how they are doing and listen to the answer. If someone is sad- don’t search for the reason why, there is a good chance that even they don’t know. Just be there. Even if it’s only to watch a movie in silence. Show compassion. Take off your mask so that they can take off theirs.

There is one death by suicide in the world every 40 seconds. In the US alone there is a death by suicide every 12.3 minutes. It is the 10th leading cause of death in the US for all ages. To put that into perspective, murder is ranked #17. This means that we are more likely to harm ourselves than for someone else to harm us. For 15-24 year olds (the age I was when I dealt with my darkest days), it is the 2nd leading cause of death. An estimated quarter million people every year become suicide survivors. That’s a lot of pain, that’s a lot of sadness.

We need to look out for one another, and in the process, we cannot ignore ourselves. I know that it is a lot to ask- to convince someone to ask for help, but trust me, it is worth it. I didn’t believe that I could ever be truly happy. I didn’t believe that I would live past 17. I didn’t believe in a lot of things that I have now. I was forged through fire; because of my sadness, I can appreciate my happiness now. And it wasn’t a single event that changed everything; you don’t need a miracle. Sometimes it just happens, it changes inside of you, slowly building up day by day; but you have to be open to the change. Don’t give up. I am 27, I have a good life- it isn’t perfect, but I’m happy. I have lived through some amazing experieces because I didn’t give up when everything in my soul wanted to. Life is not what I expected; but eventually, the sun does come out, no matter how long you’ve weathered the storm. Don’t give up, don’t be afraid. Most of us have felt the pain, and no one will think any less of you for trying to help yourself. I wish I had. I could have saved myself years of pain. Life is a beautiful mess, never be too afraid to live it.