A few months back I wrote a tribute to the radio show host known as Delilah Renee, who's station has offered love and kindness to many loyal listeners for over 30 years. About a week ago, Delilah shared a post across her social media pages regarding the loss of her son to depression and how she would be taking a leave from the station while grieving. Many people reached out to me to see if I had seen her post, and most of their texts went unanswered.
Today, October 10th, is World Mental Health Day. In honor of Delilah's son and all the other people out there who are have dealt with depression on a daily basis, I have decided to share my own struggle with depression. This piece was written for a class, but I feel that its relevance is too significant to lock away in my computer or notebook. It shares a title with the headline of this article, which is "40 Reasons I Continue Fighting My Depression."
1. Because I’ve spent my entire life battling severe asthma and am not ready to lose this war
2. Because I’m afraid the people I rely on and believe in rely on and believe in me just as much
3. Because I haven’t seen the widespread arms of the Milky Way in the sky yet
4. Because I want to see the song “Seasons of Love” performed live and sing along
5. Because I know every song from “Wicked” by heart and still haven’t seen it
6. Because I don’t want my gravestone to read “Would sooner die than take Intro to Shakespeare”
7. Because I’ve only lost 88 pounds so far this year and I know there’s a diamond within me waiting to shine
8. Because no matter how unlovable I feel, I have to believe there’s someone out there for me
9. Because giving up means hurting others, something I can’t bring myself to do
10. Because if I die, my father would have been right in telling me my health was a risky investment
11. Because I want to find someone to sing “I’ll Be” by Edwin McCain to
12. Because my suitemates would never again hear me singing love songs at 2 in the morning
13. Because I still believe I can make a difference, and I can’t squander that chance
14. Because telling my story might give others like me the strength to keep fighting
15. Because Juan Felipe Herrera challenged me to turn my pain into a force of change in the world
16. Because I can still prove to the world that not all American men are heartless bastards
17. Because I’d love to take a show choir to compete with a set list of Journey songs
18. Because Enrique Iglesias’ song “Hero” taught me I was gay at the age of 8 and that’s too funny not to share
19. Because a pen pal from New Zealand went out of his way to teach me to love myself after 23 years of hate.
20. Because I can contribute to the legacy of the “Rogue Writers” at the University of Cincinnati
21. Because so many successful authors have entered my life and told me they believe in me
22. Because I still haven’t gotten said successful authors to sign my copies of their books
23. Because if I give up now, no one will have known who the real “Danny Rader” was
24. Because I’m falling for my pen pal from New Zealand and believe he’s worth fighting for
25. Because my writers at Odyssey are beautiful people, and I could never damage their passion
26. Because I’ve helped four people through dealing with suicidal thoughts and can’t do that to them
27. Because my baby half-sister looks up to me and I want to be there for her until she’s sick of me
28. Because I’m the healthiest physically I’ve been in 8 years and it was really fucking hard
29. Because my father randomly bought me a grave plot already and I never want to fill it
30. Because my stepfather told me he’s looking forward to the opportunity of skipping my funeral
31. Because if I could survive over 2 years of constant verbal abuse, I can survive my self hatred
32. Because I haven’t told Cameron Dewald, a childhood friend, how sorry I am for abandoning him
33. Because I am living a life for two and cannot disappoint the first real friend I had growing up
34. Because I still have yet to finish my great American novel and get it critiqued by Stephen King
35. Because Delilah’s station has been there for me every step of the way, and she believes in me
36. Because my therapist has been incredible and I want to keep bringing her poems
37. Because emotional poetry is just as real as everything else and I think it gets a bad rap
38. Because maybe I can become the man I once envisioned myself becoming
39. Because I’ve surprisingly made it to 39 points and have a lot more to live for than I ever thought
40. Because even today when I couldn’t find the strength to function, I reached for my pen and paper
Depression and anxiety can strike when you least expect it, and those struggling with it on a daily basis have to constantly learn new ways of managing their responsibilities, and from what I've learned from experience, it can be incredibly overwhelming.
This list poem is almost a week in the making. I say this because it took me that long to really consider what I had that was worth living for. Some of the items are things I've yet to do, some are things that have happened to me that I feel the need to prove wrong or overcome, but ultimately all of them together align like an old jigsaw puzzle and reveal who I am. I'm tired of hiding, and I'm tired of feeling like I'm always at the mercy of what happens to me.
If you're struggling, know that you are not alone. If you're ready to rise above what's holding you back, then drop a comment and share a few things that you have to live for. Help those at the end of their rope by showing them just how real your problems are and how you think you can beat them.
If you need someone to talk to, then shoot an email my way at email@example.com or message me on Facebook (Danny Rader) and I will get back to you as soon as possible.