In boxing, one of the fundamental necessities of the sport is the presence of a good cornerman. In an article written a few years ago providing insight into and describing the sine qua non of the cornerman, the author declared, "he [the cornerman] must be a psychologist, able to assist the fighter through the emotional minefield that is the preparation for combat. A strategist, a General, able to see what it's going to take to secure victory and offering the kind of tactical advice that can be put into practice in the crucible of battle".
Everybody needs a cornerman.
Though our society is now more digitally connected than it has ever been, these progressive gains in popularity have not grown without consequence. Heartbreaking news stories on facebook and twitter and instagram share photos and videos that reveal the devastating truth we were once technologically blind to. Other trends have grown, too, and not for the better. As we approached the new millennium, suicide rates were trending in a hopeful direction: down. In the past decade, though, suicide rates have risen more than a quarter and have experienced a compound annual growth rate every year since. Competition has become commonplace and self-worth is based on views or likes or follows. We have built ourselves carefully constructed facades to share parts of our lives we believe others should see and hope that they do. Subterfuge has become the foundation for connection but that foundation is quivering. Likes and comments create the emotional minefield but they don't help you through it. The people providing this digital validation are behind a screen and they need to be with you on the other side of it. We need to be with each other on the other side of it. We need more cornermen.
World suicide prevention day is September 10th. If you haven't told someone how extraordinary they are in a while, do that then. Remind them that they are more than what the internet tells them they are. Help someone recognize the importance of their existence and that nothing would be the same if they were not here.
Nothing would be the same if you did not exist.
Remind them they have someone in their corner. Someone to motivate, aid recovery, make the tough losses more bearable and the victories more triumphant. Try to be that person for someone else. Someone you love or someone you know or maybe even someone you don't. Smile at the stranger on the sidewalk and remember that everyone has their own Everest to climb each morning. For many, more than 48 million for some perspective, that Everest could be a daily battle with depression, anxiety, PTSD, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, OCD, anorexia, or one of the countless debilitating illnesses that our society makes it difficult to find someone who is willing to support and understand. These 48 million enter the ring every morning not knowing how tough their opponent is going to be and a lot of mornings that makes getting out of bed unfeasible. It's hard to face an opponent feeling like you've already lost. It's hard to face an opponent who provokes fear and pain that aren't always easy to understand. It's hard to face an opponent that a lot of people can't see or understand, either. A very good friend of mine once said that some of our most difficult experiences are a lot like morse code - although people know what it is, they don't necessarily understand it. If you wake up and feel brave enough to enter the ring today, remember that you have someone in your corner who wants to try and understand. Someone who believes in your ability to succeed. You don't have to enter that match alone. Allow yourself to let someone help bandage your wounds or hold you when you experience a punch with thunderous reverberation.
You are worthy of the help you are offered.
You are not unworthy because someone hurt you.
You are not less of a person because someone might have made you believe you are.
You are whole and you did not let them win.
You are worthy of love and hope and inspiration and more time.
You are so, so, so worthy of more time.
David Levithan once stated, "There are all these moments you think you won't survive. And then you survive."
When you forget what it feels like to survive, why it is worth waking up tomorrow, or why it is worth it to lace up your gloves and enter that ring again, try to remind yourself of all you have done and continue to do. Remind yourself that you opened your eyes and you took a breath and if that is all you do today that is okay. Stick around to take a few more.
If mental illness is the Goliath to your David remember who came out victorious in that battle.
And when you are walking down the street or through the grocery store or through the office or your classroom just remember that sometimes the way you think you know or understand someone is not the way they actually are. Try to remember that sometimes somebody feels like they are entering the fight all alone.
Be in their corner when they turn around. Remind yourself that it is okay to have someone in your corner, too. Even the most experienced fighters need someone to believe in them and root for them when they can't do either for themselves.
If you needed a sign to continue to fight, let this be it.
If anything at all, let this serve as a reminder that every time you thought you could not go on, you did.