“if I’m alive tomorrow…”
“Please wake me up in the morning; don’t let me die in my sleep.”
“This is all just too much for me.”
“I’m scared I won’t wake up in the morning.”
“I’d be less of a burden if I was just gone.”
“Maybe things would just be easier if I wasn’t here…”
“i don’t want to deal with this anymore.”
“Ending it all might just be easier.”
^ The above are all things I’ve either said, thought, or prayed over the past 11 months.
The last 3 shock me to an extent. But when I really think about it… I’ve believed those thoughts more than I realize.
Jarrid Wilson said it exquisitely in a recent blog post:
“I never tried to take my own life in my younger years, but I frequently found myself googling painless ways to commit suicide, and really had no remorse once finding what I was looking for.”
I’ve been there. More times than I’d like to admit.
“It was like a voice track playing in my head, every time I had an ache or pain, or something felt off… my brain just would go off the deep end. My brain and my body are at war constantly… and for awhile, I wasn’t sure which one was going to win out.I’ve gone to bed every night since October convinced I wouldn’t wake up the next day.”
Anxiety is one of the scariest things I’ve ever dealt with. (And this is a scaredy cat you’re talking to). The panic attacks would sneak in in the middle of the night, when I felt the most unsafe (nights are still the worst). They would physically, mentally, emotionally debilitate me… to the point that I was so scared of having an attack, I’d have an attack. A viscious, sleepless, despairing cycle. It’s been 11 months since the night I had my 1st panic attack. It will always be a day I clearly remember… because it changed my life.
What used to be me worrying about minor things slowly turned into me becoming worried about everything… and becoming catostrophically upset/scared about it to the point of tears, sleepless nights, and the inability to function normally. I became so obsessed with every minor ache and pain in my life I was terrified I wasn’t going to wake up the next day. Every. day. (I still have days like this, too. Almost daily still).
But anxiety is so much more than being scared or worried. It’s this overwhelming, all-consuming parade of thoughts and feelings that make you question everything, worry about everything, and never be able to fully trust yourself or your circumstances. It’s irrational and ridiculous and 100% of it is all in my head. But that doesn’t make it less paralyzing. Your thoughts and feelings override every! part! of! existence!– to the point that you can’t hear anything but the anxious thoughts. You assume the worst about everything, and it becomes so miserable you just want to climb into a hole and escape from everything and everyone. (at least that’s how I felt).
It’s so much bigger than being anxious about a test or meeting new people.
“I just don’t have the will to live anymore.”
I said to my grandmother one day, while she was cooking dinner. I don’t remember my age, but I’m gonna guess between 8-10. But I have that moment in time memorized in my head.
It was the first time I thought that maybe I didn’t want to live anymore.
It wasn’t the last, though.
There have been so many times in my life… that I felt like life just wasn’t worth it. That I wasn’t worth it. And when anxiety reared its ugly head… depression did too (again). They go hand and hand.
One tells you that nothing is right… the other tells you nothing is worth it.
Depression is mind-numbing. It makes me feel like I’m in a fog, or in a pit I can’t climb out of. I’d dealt with depression previously in my life, but coupled with my anxiety, it led me into a never-ending cycle of both crippling sadness and fear.
I’m in a season of life currently where anxiety and depression have taken over– where I want to do nothing more than curl up in a ball and sleep til the day is over (and I usually do, honestly). So much change in such little time, so many overwhelming feelings and moments. It’s become too much to handle.
With all the recent life changes, my anxiety has shifted into overdrive and taken over my nighttime; depression has engulfed me during the daytime… and I am about to become fully unglued.
This just isn’t worth it, my brain tells me.
“Maybe I’d be better off gone,” I said earlier this week. (Aloud).
“I just don’t know what to do anymore,” I said yesterday while praying.
These thoughts overwhelm me on days when life knocks me down. But I refuse to give them the power to take over my life.
Just because life gets overwhelming doesn’t mean it’s not worth living.
When life gets scary it isn’t time to give up.
I am STRONGER than my emotions let me think I am. (so much so).
I do not have to second guess every thought, action, or word… I don’t have to obsess with my life to the point of crippling it.
Anxiety tries to tell me that I’m not good enough… that I’m not ok… that life is awful and there’s nothing that will make it better.
Anxiety is a liar. And it’s time I start believing that.
A bad day does not equate a bad life.
I am not meant to just get by in life- I am made for more than this.
I have more to offer to the world– I am good enough just as I am.
My story is worth sharing, and my life is worth fully living.
My life is worth so much more than what my brain tells me it is.
I have too much left to do; I have too much left to offer to let it end here.
I’m here for a reason, dangit; even when I don’t feel like it, I am not made to leave here this soon.
I have a life that’s waiting to be lived beyond what anxiety and depression let me think there is.
It’s time I stop giving in to the lies and the voices and start speaking up for myself. I deserve it.
(Against the Voices, Switchfoot)
This week is National Suicide Prevention Week. It is time to be aware, educate, and advocate for mental health.
It took me until I dealt with mental illness in my own life to see just how prevalent it is, and how stigmatized it is. (and I was apart of the stigma, too). It took me until my own personal diagnosis with depression and GAD to see just how mental health is as important as any other kind of health. Now that I see it from the other side, I understand. I just wish I had thought about the impact of mental health much, much sooner.
GAD affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population yearly– and twice as likely to affect women (source)
Major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older, in a given year. (source) (just one of the multiple kinds of depression)
In 2013, 41,149 suicides were reported, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death for Americans. [In 2013] Someone in the country died by suicide every 12.8 minutes. After cancer and heart disease, suicide accounts for more years of life lost than any other cause of death. (source)
Every 12.8 minutes. Just think about that for a minute. Scary, right?
It’s time to start breaking this cycle. And it begins with us.
- It is okay to ask for help (I struggle so much with this, hence why this post took a week to write… vulnerability is scary but it is a must). Community and helping each other is one of the biggest things. You’ll be surprised by how many “you, too” statements you’ll hear. (I was).
- It is okay to take medicine (I can see/feel a difference in me before and after I take my meds). It is okay not to take medicine either (it helps some, it doesn’t help others).
- It is okay to see a therapist. (Mine got me out of the depths. I need to go back). It’s okay not to see one, either.
Not everyone finds help or solace in the same way. But the key: seek help, no matter what it looks like.
For me, help some days is in the form of watching Jimmy Fallon clips until I fall asleep. (Seriously, The Tonight Show has helped me laugh my way out of panic attacks before).
The bottom line: you deserve help. your story deserves to be told. But it begins with you, and it begins when you seek the help you need.
I suffered far too long on my own to know, y’all. It’s not worth your life to wait and try to figure it out on your own.
We are worth more than we think we are— enough to find the help we need to pull ourselves out of whatever we’re caving under.
(Larger than Life, Jon Foreman- this whole EP has helped me more than words could describe).
To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA) has been an immensely helpful source of hope and community for me, especially over the past year when I finally started taking mental health seriously. For NSPW, this year’s theme is “We’ll See You Tomorrow”-– a theme signifying that tomorrow will come, and tomorrow will be different.
Tomorrow gives us hope.
Suicide doesn’t give us a chance to see what tomorrow will bring; it ends our story too soon.
“Above all else, we choose to stay. We choose to fight the darkness and the sadness, to fight the questions and the lies and the myth of all that’s missing. We choose to stay, because we are stories still going. Because there is still some time for things to turn around, time for surprises and for change. We stay because no one else can play our part.
Life is worth living.
We’ll see you tomorrow.” -Jamie Tworkowski, founder of TWLOHA
Life is worth living, guys. And not just the getting by kind of living. It’s time we started treating our lives like they are worth more than what our brains say they are.
If you need help, seek it.
If you need community to help you, reach out– it’s waiting for you. And be that community to others, too. We need each other.
If you need resources, check out TWLOHA and the other links in this post– there are plenty of resources and foundations that work to help us figure this stuff out.
“You’ll see me tomorrow because life is MORE THAN what anxiety lets me think it is. I have more life to live beyond GAD.”
I have too many tomorrows to look forward to, and it’s time to stop letting the lies and the voices tell me I won’t see them.
To learn more about what you can do, and to get help if you need it, please check out To Write Love on Her Arms.
Because I want to see as many tomorrows as I can, and I won’t let my mental health stop me.
Thanks for reading, guys. 🙂
I’ll see you tomorrow.
(Spoken Word for NSPW that TWLOHA created- stunningly beautiful).