THE BLOG

A Message of Light and Life During Suicide Prevention Month

You are special. You are the only you. You have a story that is not yet finished. It's up to you to live it out. You have lives to impact. You have obstacles to overcome. You have heart to give.
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The "We'll See You Tomorrow" campaign, by To Write Love On Her Arms, presents a powerful message -- one to take with you for keeps. Hope always involves tomorrow.

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With September being National Suicide Prevention Month and last Thursday (Sept. 10) being World Suicide Prevention Day, themes of life, death, joy, sadness, hope, and despair have been weighing both heavy and light on my heart and mind (then again, they always do).

I have a number of close friends and family members in my life who have battled, or are battling, depression. The closest of these people being me.

Depression and anxiety hit me hard before I was even old enough to understand the power of the mind and what can happen if you let it rule you. What I did know is that I felt there was an invisible weight on my shoulders that was very difficult to swim away from. It kept me up at night. It wrecked my stomach repeatedly. It sent me into a state of panic without warning. It was a negative force in my life I struggled with overcoming for years. It hurt me, and it hurt those I love who wanted nothing but to "fix it" for me.

As an adolescent, there were a lot of days I simply wanted out. Out of the burden. Out of the weight. Out of the pain. I wanted to wake up as someone with a different brain -- one that wouldn't destroy her. I acted out in fear and anger; however, I never wanted out of my own life bad enough to make any real attempts to do something about it. Only because at the time, death scared me even more than sticking around did.

Truth be told, without the support of my mom who knew my struggles inside and out and carried them as if they were her own, the power of music, the wonder and peace I found while outdoors in nature, my growing faith in God, my focus on athletics and academics, and my friends at the time (despite them having no idea what I was going through), I probably wouldn't have survived these years or willed myself to be here today.

I can't pinpoint an exact moment in my life when I started seeing my weight as a gift, but over time, the weight I carried moved from being a seemingly impossible burden to bear, to a struggle that I could only hope would one day help me be able to offer a message of light and life to others.

I consider today (this present season of my life) that day. Today I don't wear the deep sadness from my past openly for all to see. But I do carry my heart openly -- raw, vulnerable, without a mask or false pretenses that I'm a wonder-human who has it all together. I'm just a human who feels all the things.

While the weight of my depression lifted years ago, I remain someone who experiences everything deeply. Someone who feels all the feelings, all the time. As I've grown up (and am now nearing the age of 30), I've grown into having a pretty good handle on my spirit and state of being. I know what triggers my anxiety. I know my faults and weaknesses. I know my hardships. And I choose to move through them and exist beyond them.

Where I've been in the past doesn't dictate who I am today. But it has made me more empathetic to the battles others are fighting to overcome. I'd like to think it has more fully equipped me to potentially help those I encounter who might be facing similar battles.

On Choosing Tomorrow

I choose tomorrow because I have hopes and dreams of being able to further use my voice to help educate other humans on how to better treat their bodies, souls, fellow humans, animals, and the environment, while they are here in this realm.

Because I believe in the divine, and a divine purpose for my life.

Because I love my partner Andrew, my parents, my extended family, and my friends with all of my heart. And they need me as much as I need them.

Because despite my introverted personality, I live for and thrive off of human connection.

Because I know I have gifts I am called to share with the world.

Because I love hearing and playing music, hiking mountains, jumping in the ocean and feeling weightless, and running and sweating out my frustrations.

Because I love looking in the mirror, staring into my own eyes, pinching my skin and being wowed at the reality that I am here right now. This moment will never be repeated. There are no other human beings on the planet living out this moment in the same way I am.

Because I have so much more love to give to my family, friends and those I've yet to encounter.

Because I love being here on this earth, even on the days I feel at a loss over the widespread brokenness.

Because I feel compelled to do my best in my own corner of the world to speak openly about, and address this brokenness.

Because I don't know what tomorrow will bring. But I do know where there is darkness, there is always light.

Today I give you the short version of my story because ultimately today's message is not about me. It's about you.

You are special. You are the only you. You have a story that is not yet finished. It's up to you to live it out. You have lives to impact. You have obstacles to overcome. You have heart to give.

I want you to choose tomorrow. I want you to wake up and start seeing this world as a gift. But beyond that, I want you to see yourself as a gift to the world. I know this is possible for you. Because it's become possible for me.

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If you -- or someone you know -- need help, please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. If you are outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.