Have you ever wondered what it would be like to end your own life? I don’t mean this to sound morbid in any way, and please, do try to overlook any sinister images that may have flood your mind as you read that sentence. I ask it with the purest of intentions.
Have you ever sat, or stood, or walked, and wondered how the earth would shift if you suddenly decided to press STOP on your own existence? How different things would be, and how differently the people whom you love would smile, once you were no longer around?
How chilly and empty the atmosphere would become at the mention of your name, once it is used in the past tense, and no longer in the present?
Have you ever thought about how heartbreaking it would be for your parents, who used to beg you for a Skype call or a visit, your friends, who make it their job to plaster your friendship all over every form of social media, and your partner, who looked into and memorized your eyes and the curve of your lips when they first told you that they loved you?
Have you ever thought about how heartbreaking it would be for all those memories and moments and framed pictures to become nothing more than a name and date on a gravestone?
Well, I can tell you one thing, I certainly didn’t. I never gave myself a chance to think about how the worlds of so many would come crashing down if I ended my own.
I never gave thought to how many tears would be shed if I had given in and was left to be found lifeless in my bedroom by the people who love me the most.
I never paid attention to any of this, but that, dear reader, is the thing with depression. It never lets you see the reality. It never shows you how the darkness can leak out of you and stain the lives of the people you love, too. It never shows you a way out.
It shows you pain. It shows you gut-wrenching pain that you never, ever thought you could feel. Pain that seems to get stronger and more profound with every single day that you battle it. A pain that is relentless, and that demands to be felt.
It shows you an emptiness that suffocates you with every breath that you have to beg yourself to take, an emptiness that drowns out every little bit of hope you had left in you, and an emptiness that makes you numb to the rest of existence.
Depression is not an illness. That’s the way you see it when you’re trapped so fiercely under her spell.
In your mind, she’s alive. Her heart is beating from the breaths she continues to steal from you, and with every agonizing day, she crawls her way under your skin and deeper into your veins, until she has poisoned your blood.
You think every killer attacks their victim in the same way? Dear reader, do not be mistaken. Depression is a personal demon. She robs you of your goals. She takes away that special feeling that you used to have every afternoon when you sat and played the hours away in front of the piano.
She tarnishes the way that you laugh with your whole body, the way your shoulders shake uncontrollably and the way your smile reaches each ear.
She takes away the pride that fills you when you look at yourself with grace and gentleness in the mirror, and in it’s place she leaves a frown and a sense of repulsion at any hint of your own reflection.
Depression is a silent killer. She’s there in your quiet moments, when everything around you is silent and your head is filled with screams.
She’s there when your eyes flutter open lazily in the morning, and for a minute you almost forget that you are broken, before she comes barging through the door and sits heavily on your shoulder.
She’s there, teasing you, taunting you and making sure you never forget that she owns you. You are hers, and that is the way it is always going to be.
In your heart, you know how this will end, and the thing is, you don’t even begin to try and stop it. And she will always be there, encouraging you, her tongue rolling seductively over every letter of your name.
You will have no energy or life left to fight her, and you will feel like no one. Nothing. This is how she’ll know that she won.
And you’ll drag the blade across your arms, clawing ferociously at your skin. For what, you won’t know. But all you want to feel is something, anything.
You want to scream in pain, in frustration, in anger. You just want to scream.
But she will be stronger than you. And you will still feel nothing. You will articulate nothing. You will see nothing but the blood that colors your arms, and the raw slashes etched deep into your skin.
This is your life, your darkness and your pain. And you will feel as though there is nothing you can do to change it. All you can do is cut until there is nothing left.
But, dear reader… life begins when you put down the blade. Life begins when you cry, and scream, and cry some more, until you have nothing left and then you pick yourself up off the floor.
Life begins when you write love on your arms instead of hate, and you bandage the wounds that have been bleeding for so long.
Your life begins in the moments when you decide to carry on with the fight even when everything else around you is pushing you to quit. That is when magic happens.
My dear reader, this is my plea to you. This is my plea to the girl with the pills in her hand. This is my plea to the single mother, who juggles three growing kids, two jobs and a heavy sadness.
This is my plea to the guy who has lost his patience with a world that is still learning, and has resigned himself to leave it, in search of something better. This is my plea to every single one of you… keep breathing.
Keep breathing, for that moment when you find yourself laughing again, and the darkness fades away long enough for you to enjoy it.
Keep breathing, for the time when your therapist looks at you and smiles, a smile of assurance that you are stronger now.
Keep breathing, for the day when you breathe a sigh of relief, a sigh of contentedness, and simply just a sigh, because it has been one month, or two months, or three months since you picked up that blade.
Keep breathing, for that instant, that beautifully fragile moment when someone will kiss you where you have bled, and the warmth of love will pour into all the cracks of your soul.
Because you deserve to feel love. You deserve to feel happiness, and excitement, and anger and every other emotion that floods through our living bodies.
Because you are alive. You are so alive, and you deserve to feel it all.
And you will not always be broken. Light will begin to shine through the shattered bits of you, covering you with a glow that will warm you to no end.
Smiling will feel natural again, and the numbness that you became so used to will drain away, allowing you to soak up every wonderful feeling that comes with existing in this world.
You will dance, and sing, and laugh again and it will be a sort of dizzy euphoria for you, because you’ll realize that you no longer want a life that does not encapsulate any of these simple human things.
And you will love again. Your heart will fill up just as quickly as it drained and you will explode with a love for your world, your fight and yourself.
You will treat yourself with a tenderness that you craved for so long, and you will adorn yourself with nothing but kindness and admiration. And this love that courses through you will spill out of you and find it’s way into the hearts of everyone around you.
You will soften with your smile, and there will come a day when you will find the strength to break yourself apart and allow someone else to fill you with their love. A day when someone will look into your eyes, and stir all your insides with feelings that will make you so overwhelmingly glad that you are still around to feel them.
So, dear reader, do not create an ending in the middle of a chapter. Please believe that you are stronger than any pain that robs you of happiness. You are stronger than any illness that destroys your chance at a life full of color. You are stronger than your depression.
I ask this of you, because I only wish someone had said all of these things to me in those moments when I truly felt like giving up. But I’m here now, and I’m sharing this with you, because I want you to keep breathing.
Keep breathing, for this is a beautiful fight.
A fight that you deserve to win.