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Holding on to Hope

How My Friends Saved Me From Myself

Last year, I really wanted to die. I loved God. I loved my family. But I was convinced everyone would be better off without me. “I’m the problem. There’s something wrong with me.” Or so the voices in my head would scream on repeat like police sirens until I pulled over long enough to believe them.

In May 2018, I received a diploma. Most consider this milestone an accomplishment; I see it (and the fact that I am still breathing today) as a miracle. Before graduation, I intermittently lost the ability to use the right side of my body. I lost my freedom and independence, and eventually I lost something even more valuable—hope.

Friends transcribed papers, tied my shoes, and took me to and from school. Holding my hand while anxiety gripped the night and at scary doctor appointments, they showed me what being “with” is all about. We tried to laugh through the pain, and they pushed me toward my dreams, even at times, in a wheelchair.

A Dark Spiral

That summer brought the darkest spiral my mind and heart have ever faced. This affected everyone who loves me. Ups and downs became patterns as nerve tests, chronic pain, mood-altering prescriptions and question marks were a constant reality. Panic took real estate in the hours intended for rest. Night terrors were the norm, and naps were a necessary escape. Suicide felt like the most selfless thing I could to do for the people I loved most. I wanted to relieve them of the burden I believed myself to be. 

A friend made me promise to get help on a day I had planned to end it and said, “We all need people. It won’t always be like this.” And she was right. That promise, the people that held me to it, and a faithful God who isn’t afraid of doubt are the reasons I get to be here. I checked myself in and started counseling.

Bob Goff says, “God doesn’t pass notes, He gives us friends.” My friends saved me from myself in moments of extreme vulnerability and confusion. God revealed His love through the presence of those who chose to walk two miles, when I only knew how to ask for one.

Living

I like living. And I like you living, too. I’m grateful to still be here. I know many, like me, who have struggled with depression, anxiety, and suicide are no longer with us. This breaks my heart in ways no words could ever express, and nothing can ever “fix.” I wish I could bring them back. I wish I could hug their families and give them what mental illness and a moment of weakness took from them.

This is why I have to share my story. 

More of us need to make it. And we need to know we are not alone in the fight for our lives. Maybe, even as you read this, someone you love can’t shake the heaviness. Or maybe things feel incredibly dark for you right now. I am so sorry. 

Physical, emotional, and mental pain are real and connected. Often, we only validate what we can see on the outside. But there is so much more going on behind the carefully curated posts and personalities we present. Sometimes it’s the people we would least expect who are facing the things we could never imagine. No matter what we see on the outside, it’s only part of the story. No matter what you feel on the inside, that’s only part of the story too.

Show up if you need to. Step back if you need to. Both are courageous, needed, and healthy at times.

Don't Give Up

I’m convinced of a few things: Darkness and depression don’t get to win. God is near. He may feel far, but feelings don’t always tell the truth. He hasn’t forgotten about you. If the weight feels unbearable, it won’t always be like this. And asking for help is strength, not weakness. I promise. Practically, counseling helped me sort through piles and put things where they belong.

You are a gift. You are going to make it. You are good for people. And you are not alone. Sing. Run. Make that phone call. Drive. Eat gummy bears. Take a hot shower. Pray. Show up when you want to stay home. Worship. Communicate what you need to the people that love you. They want to help. Surround yourself with people (and animals) that you can hug and serve and love and give-of-yourself to, especially when you feel like you have nothing left. I know it’s not that simple, but it’s a start.

Life is beautiful, and I can finally see (and feel) the light again. I hope you can too. And if you can’t yet, it’s not going to be like this forever. I’m praying for you to experience the peace of God as the safest place you have ever known. I know I have, but it took months before I could “feel” it.

To my friends, thank you. Every morning, I thank God for the gift of friendship you chose to give in the moments that mattered most. You saw what the depression, fear, and self-hatred blinded me from and showed me what is real. Let’s be that kind of friend to someone else this year. 

To you, thank you. Thank you for reading my story, but more importantly, thank you for living yours. People need you.

Please don’t give up.

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