The urge to write this article has been there for quite some time now. I wanted to write this, I just could not shake the feeling of "what will they say? How will people look at me?" But then I realized that this is my story, and screw whatever others were going to say. I am not going to get into the details of why I was suicidal, or what led to my depressive demise, but I want to tell this story to somehow help people who may be going through the same or similar things.

The first time I faced extreme depression was during my eighth grade year of junior high. Junior high was rough for everyone, but add that to constant bullying, taunts, and an event that literally changed my life, and it was rough. From Halloween until about April, I thought of harming myself every night. While I never physically harmed myself, it was something that always plagued my thoughts, like a to do list that had to get done. The weight of these thoughts started to show, too. My friends and family were basically nonexistent, not because they chose to be, but because I pushed them away from me. I masked my thoughts with overwhelming exuberance and spirit, somehow showing the world the positive me.

These thoughts led into my freshman year of high school. There, I felt like I gave off the "too positive" vibe, so I tried to mask my depression and suicidal thoughts with spirit. My school saw me as someone totally different than I saw myself. Even when people made fun of me, I still masked my dark side with a happy go lucky spirit. My life changed in the halls of Slidell High, and eventually it did get better. I had a lovely high school experience, and the troubles I faced then kept me going when life got too much to handle.

Leaving Slidell High, however, brought me back to my dark place. It was hard to leave a place that I loved so much for the unknown. Freshman year, I had a letter written to me that was so nasty, I wrote a suicide letter. I had a plan to execute, and once it was set, I thought that had to do it. I thought that I was nothing more than a debt to people’s existence. The only thing that I really had was myself, and myself only, to mend my aching heart. When I actually read my suicide letter, however, things changed. I realized that my existence was something that was worth fighting for. My life was not what other people had made it seem like it was. My life was valuable, and it took seeing it on paper and reading it out loud made me realize how much the world needed me.

I wanted to share my story to let those who may be afraid to get the help they need to do it. I am here today because of selfless individuals on the suicide and crisis hotlines. Some people, however, are not as lucky. Some venture to a place so dark that they cannot pull themselves away from it. People die every day from suicide, and while I consider myself a lucky person for making it out on the other side, there are countless people who don’t. If people who were in my similar situation ever feel like they need help, reach out to people who maybe aren’t in your family. For me, that was the crisis hotline and my friends.

I know how shocking it must be for those people, especially those close to me, to read my admission of suicidal thoughts. I know that many of you are wondering how or why I didn’t come to you. Some of you may even be wondering how I managed to mask it for all of those years. For me, it was not wanting to be seen as a charity or basket case. I wanted to appear strong and positive, even though on the inside I had the weight of the world on me. When I finally found what my escape was, however, it both changed and saved my life.

When I got really down and to the point where I was wishing to be taken from the earth, I turned to reading and writing. Escaping to the far off lands of Revolutionary France in Les Miserables or even to civil rights era Jackson in The Help allowed me to cope with my own troubles. Writing my own stories helped me even more. Writing out my troubles helped even more. Creating strong characters to put my troubles into made me feel like I had control of my own life. I always say that writing saved me, but I realize now that it truly did change my life.

People always ask me, “how did you keep going when times got rough?” The answer to that question is that I thought about my family and friends, and I thought about how they would deal with my death. I thought about the tears that people would shed. I thought about my RA and residence life having to come in and see my dead body. Knowing that my life was something to someone out there helped me to keep going.

I can’t control my depression, and I can’t control what path it leads me on. What I can do, however, is share my story to hopefully inspire others. I have been through pain that can be put into words. Hopefully, I can utilize my experiences with my own suicidal thoughts and use them to help others who are in the same or similar boats. I know how hard life can sometimes be, but the people that make my world colorful made me into the woman that I am today.

There are a few things I want people to know about my situation, but one of them is to know that I am okay. I made it out, and while my mental illness is something that I still continue to struggle with, I will let the people close to me know when I need help. I may not have asked before, but I know where to turn when the road gets rough.

If you know someone that needs help, or find that you need help, please call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255.