The life you save may be your own

[this blog post discusses suicide at length]

Because I am the world’s most teenager-y teenager, this is written with someone in mind and I’m not going to tell you who. I think other people might need to hear it too, though, with winter setting in and the holidays coming up and the year ending and all, so I’m posting it publicly.


Dear you,

Honesty is important, so I’ll be upfront: I took a good long time coming up with some great line to write here. I wanted it to be original, universal, specific, short, meaningful, something that would leave an impact. Of course that’s an entirely impossible sentence to construct, but I felt like you needed it. This is what I came up with, after much hand-wringing and reading aloud and backspacing and angst:

A bright world can be so hard to see, but you have to let your eyes adjust to the light.

I know how hard life has been for you. I know you feel like you are down to one percent. I’ve been where you are, when you’re trying and trying and trying to swim to shore but your arms get tired of pumping through saltwater and your brain is running out of reasons to keep going, stroke after stroke after stroke, and your eyes just want to shut for forever because they’re so tired of crying. So tired. You’re so tired.

But nothing in this universe is going to last forever—maybe not even the universe. And you can be scared by that; I think we all are. You can also be relieved. This—the shit you’re going through, the pain you feel, the way recovery seems like a concept created to mock you because you’ll never reach that place—won’t last forever. You just have to live to see what comes after.

Sure, maybe “you just have to live” is an understatement of how difficult living is for you right now. But you have to remember: you have never been anything but alive. You have no idea what a present-day without you is like.

A bright world can be so hard to see. I know. I didn’t used to see anything in color, just black and white. I came so close to dying—a day away. Twenty-four hours. For context, I was born over 6,750 days ago. More than 162,000 hours.

But the hours felt like months when I was in the murk and dark and blank of depression. So here’s what I did: I filled those hours.

I kept busy: homework, conversations, sleep, reading, writing, studying writing craft, studying biology. I was careful to be around people almost always. If I felt like I couldn’t get out of bed, I counted to ten as slowly as I needed. At each ten, I had to get up in some fashion—positioning myself to sit up, actually sitting up, a foot on the floor. If I didn’t move at each count of ten, I wasn’t allowed to go to the bathroom for another two minutes.

Maybe not the healthiest, but the prospect of not being able to pee after waking up is terrifying.

I was always doing something—even if I had nothing that needed to be done, I would listen to music (no sad songs allowed). I would cook something small but multi-step.

I’d also make excuses for why I couldn’t die. I had a paper to co-write with my lab partner, and if I weren’t around she’d have to do it by herself, which wouldn’t have been fair. After the paper was done: my dog was sick and I had to make sure she got better, because she liked the way I brushed her fur better than anyone in my family. After my dog got better: it was almost Christmas and I couldn’t make our family’s favorite holiday painful for them, because they’d carry that around forever and wouldn’t want Christmas to be a sad occasion.

I made excuses every day until I didn’t need them anymore. And I don’t need them anymore. I never thought that would be something I’d be able to say. That I’d have reasons, not excuses.

You’re doing okay, I think, I hope. It’s difficult to tell because you exuded happiness before this and you still do now. I don’t know you all that well, so I can’t really figure out when your heart’s not in it and when it really is. But sometimes we slip on our climb upward, and when you do I want you to remember I barely know you and I wrote this for you. I want you to remember how many people you’ve helped. I want you to remember how smart, how brave, how beautiful we know you are.

Happiness is real. It exists. It comes and it goes but you’re going to find it. I promise.

So much love,


4 responses to “The life you save may be your own”

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