I’m going to be honest -- the first semester of college wasn’t my favorite. I developed mild to moderate depression, and, for the most part, spent most of time in my bed because I didn’t feel anything. During the first week, I got a mild concussion from slamming my head against the concrete wall while I was sleeping, and my hormones were out of control due to starting birth control, resulting in the constant feelings of tiredness, sadness, and overall numbness. Since I was in a completely different state from my family and friends, I lacked an adequate support system. I can’t say that I was jumping at the chance to tell the girls on my floor how I was feeling (don’t get me wrong, I love talking about feelings. I adore deep talk. It’s just weird to tell complete strangers intimate details about my life because I have a certain way that I need them to react -- and [surprise!] it’s not with advice). Every day was a struggle to get out of bed and conquer the day. I took naps, I secluded myself, I watched more Netflix than I’ve ever watched before (OK. Maybe that one isn’t 100 percent true. I once watched ten seasons of "Grey’s Anatomy" in a month. Either way, a lot of TV was consumed over the course of three months). I was sad and lonely and numb.

I knew a lot of people that had struggled with depression in high school. After all, I’m a theatre kid. The stage is where the misfits go to find peace and healing and a sense of belonging. Many of the kids that I knew struggled with some sort of mental illness, and while I personally never struggled with thoughts of ending my life, I knew a large handful of people that had contemplated, attempted, or committed suicide. Many of them simply couldn’t find any more reasons to live, and after dealing with depression for the last three months, I know how hard it can be to find joy in anything -- especially in the things that I was once so passionate about.

In order to cope, I began to develop the courage to talk to the girls on my floor about my depression. Once I opened up (and also went off of the pill and recovered from my concussion), I immediately saw myself getting happier. Instead of bottling up my sadness and carrying the weight of it on my own shoulders, I was able to sit in the sadness with other people, processing and crying with them on their couches. I also remembered a small book that I wrote for one of my suicidal friends about a year ago (thankfully, he is still with us today). In this book were 100 reasons why this friend of mine should live. Some of them were big, some of them were small, but they were all reasons to keep on living for one more day.

I found this book recently, and I knew that I had to share it with the people of the world, just in case one of you is struggling with the same feelings me, my friend, and millions of other people are struggling with.

100 Reasons to Keep on Living:

  1. Sunrises and sunsets.
  2. The sound of a baby’s laugh.
  3. Watching someone talk about something they’re passionate about.
  4. The first snowfall of the season.
  5. The smell of artificial watermelon.
  6. Fresh baked cookies.
  7. Shooting stars.
  8. Stepping on crunchy leaves.
  9. Splashing in puddles.
  10. Traveling the world.
  11. Your future children, pets, spouses, or friends.
  12. The feeling of being held in someone’s arms.
  13. New books by your favorite authors.
  14. Christmas lights.
  15. The one influential person in your life that has helped you through everything.
  16. The way dogs gets excited to see you when you come home from a long day of school or work.
  17. Smiles on other people’s faces.
  18. The warmth of sunshine on your skin.
  19. The smell of coffee.
  20. Sitting in a warm house or by a fire with a really good book.
  21. Decorating the Christmas tree.
  22. The chill that racks through your body when you’ve accomplished something you’re proud of.
  23. Clumsy first kisses.
  24. The warmth and smell of fresh laundry.
  25. Music.
  26. Compliments and praise.
  27. The feeling your heart has when you see your crush.
  28. The sound of good laughter.
  29. Your support system (because they would be broken and lost without you).
  30. The feeling of someone paying attention to you - the one that makes you feel safe and loved.
  31. The movies that you leave you speechless after you walk out of the theater.
  32. The feeling you get after you pee for the first time in hours.
  33. The first day of spring when you can finally see the green grass peeking out of the snow and everything feels more hopeful.
  34. Puppy kisses.
  35. Baby kisses (the open mouthed kind when they smack their lips on your cheek).
  36. Swear words and the release you feel when you say them.
  37. Trampolines.
  38. Ice cream.
  39. Stargazing.
  40. Cloud watching.
  41. Taking a shower and then sleeping in clean sheets.
  42. Receiving thoughtful gifts.
  43. “I saw this and thought of you."
  44. The feeling you get when someone you love says, “I love you."
  45. The relief you feel after crying.
  46. Sunshine.
  47. The feeling you get when someone is listening to you/giving you their full attention.
  48. Your future wedding.
  49. Your favorite candy bar.
  50. New clothes.
  51. Witty puns.
  52. Really good bread.
  53. Holding your child in your arms for the first time.
  54. Completing a milestone (aka going to college, graduating college, getting married, getting your dream job.)
  55. The kind of dreams where you wake up and can’t stop smiling.
  56. The smell before and after it rains.
  57. The sound of rain against a rooftop.
  58. The feeling you get when you’re dancing.
  59. The person (or people) that mean the most to you. Stay alive for them.
  60. Trying out new recipes.
  61. The feeling you get when your favorite song comes on the radio.
  62. The rush you get when you step onto a stage.
  63. You have to share your voice and talents and knowledge with the world because they are so valuable.
  64. Breakfast in bed.
  65. Getting a middle seat in the movie theater.
  66. Breakfast for dinner (because it’s so much better at night than in the morning).
  67. Meaningful sex.
  68. Forgiveness.
  69. Water balloon fights.
  70. Orgasms.
  71. Fireflies.
  72. Birthdays.
  73. Realizing that someone loves you.
  74. Spending the day with someone you love.
  75. Spending the whole day in bed.
  76. Eating a whole pint of your favorite ice cream.
  77. Floating in water on your back and just staring up at the sky.
  78. First dates (even the bad ones make for funny stories.)
  79. Bonfires and s'mores.
  80. Relationships where you love someone but aren’t in love with them.
  81. Coming home to someone you love.
  82. The color of autumn leaves when they change.
  83. Summer.
  84. Singing songs at the top of your lungs with your friends.
  85. Cuddling.
  86. Being wrapped up in a warm bed.
  87. Someone’s skin against yours.
  88. Holding hands.
  89. The kind of hugs when you can feel a weight being lifted off your shoulders. The kind of hug where your breath syncs with the other person’s, and you feel like the only two people in the world.
  90. Singing off key with your best friends.
  91. Road trips.
  92. Spontaneous adventures.
  93. The feeling of sand beneath your toes.
  94. The feeling when the first ocean wave rolls up and envelops your toes and ankles and knees.
  95. Thunderstorms.
  96. Your first (or hundredth) trip to Disneyland.
  97. The taste of your favorite food.
  98. The child-like feeling you get on Christmas morning.
  99. The day when everything finally goes your way.
  100. You have to be alive to see the world become a better place (because I’m so hopeful that it will).