With blurred vision from eyes filled with tears, I looked at the clock on the nightstand next to my bed that read 3:12 AM. This scenario was one I had grown to know all too well, lying awake at night, head pounding and eyes puffy from sobbing. Begging for sleep to come and give me a break from the pain; but being wide awake, knowing in the back of my mind that the second I dozed off, the nightmares would come. Throughout the day, I can get by through talking to friends or making myself busy, but at night is always when it's the hardest. Knowing I have no one to call and not wanting to disturb my friends or family (because they're lucky enough to be asleep) is when the loneliness hits like a ton of bricks. After lying awake for almost five hours, just me and my thoughts, I made the decision to give in to the thought that kept entering my mind: I'm tired. I tried my best. And now it's time to give up. I tiptoed downstairs so as not to wake anyone, felt the cold wood against my feet and tried to hold in the tears that seemed to have become a part of my identity. I pulled out paper and a pen and I began to write, describing all of the pain that has drained me and taken my spirit, making the idea of ending it (and consequently, my life) so welcoming. I wrote about the feeling that I am too sensitive and too weak to exist in a world that was continuously eating me alive and destroying me. I explained why I felt that the only way for me to have peace would be to not exist. I felt that by continuing to live I would only become more broken, hurt, and used.
After outlining the aspects of my life that led to the decision to end my life, I listed the people, places, and things that got me to where I am now. I wanted to show some gratitude for the positive things in my life that I do have. As I wrote, I realized how long that list was. Hands shaking, I put down my pen and re-read my list. Thinking of all the things that made me happy, I imagined never experiencing those things again. Something about seeing it written on paper caused me to shift my mindset. Instead of focusing on the parts of my life that caused me so much pain, I focused on what has brought me joy. I pictured my loved ones going through the stages of life and me not being there to laugh, cry, or stand with them. I thought about never feeling ocean air on my face and water beneath my feet. Never dancing to "What's My Age Again?" by Blink-182 or any other music; whether it be by myself in my room, out with friends, or in the car with my dad. Thinking about all that has kept me alive, I realized I was not done experiencing what has made me happy. I wasn't ready to give up just yet. If I hadn't written those things down, it would not have been so clear to me that there are so many positive aspects of my life and just how much I have to live for. And with that, I folded up the note as a reminder, went back to the comfort of my bed and decided to keep holding on.
I've experienced a lot of pain and struggle. I know what it's like to want so badly for everything to end and to finally be at peace and not have to suffer anymore. I often feel too fragile to handle a world that can be so unfair and hateful. I know it's scary and it hurts. If you (whoever is reading this) has ever felt this way, try this, because it's so important: just when you think you can't take it anymore, think about why you have carried on to live as long as you have now and write it down. Then, put it somewhere you can look at it every day. Whatever has kept you alive this long and the possibility of new motivators is your reason to keep going and part of what makes your life so valuable. Think of what has made you smile and made you laugh and hold on to it because those things are what make life worth it.
I know how tired you feel, but the fact that you have made it this far shows how strong you are. Think of all you have been through, and you still didn't stop. I know sometimes life can get so hard, but yours has value and if you ever begin to doubt that, look back at your list.
If you need some help getting started, here's mine:
- My four best friends
- Listening to Beyoncé
- My grandpa and my dad
- My cats
- Hot coffee on a cold day
- Seeing the leaves change in the fall
- The ocean
- Watching 48 Hours with my mom
- Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Michelle Obama
- Singing to throwbacks in the car
- Making people happy
There are so many people that care and so many reasons to keep living, you just have to find yours.
If you or anyone else you know is in danger of harming themselves, please take advantage of these resources:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1 (800) 273-8255
This article (written by Kate Fagan) is about Penn runner Maddy Holleran, who committed suicide. This article does a wonderful job of showing how important it is to look out for any and all signs that someone is struggling.
Milk & Honey by Rupi Kaur--this book is especially helpful for young women, containing poetry written by a 21-year old girl about the stages of hardship she has gone through.
It's A Wonderful Life was particularly helpful for me as it puts things in perspective whenever I watch it.