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Find a reason to live

Kimberly Stelly, kstelly@lmcexperience.com

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It’s hard to get out of bed sometimes. I don’t mean in the way of sleeping through the alarm, I mean because of my seemingly endless battle with anxiety and depression. Many of my nights are spent overthinking every faulty aspect of my life, and my mornings I’m immobilized, partially due to lack of sleep, but also because the overwhelming feelings of worthlessness.

As the years go by, it gets harder and harder to picture myself without mental illnesses which makes room for hopelessness. These feelings contribute to suicidal feelings and though they always pass, they interfere with my schoolwork and the way I interact in personal and professional relationships.

One of the more common ways to help relieve yourself of — but not cure — these feelings is not bottling them in. Tell a friend — tell several friends if it gets you through the rough patches.

One of my favorite YouTubers tweeted “I want to kill myself” last summer and he explained afterward that tweeting about how he felt cathartic in that moment. He went on to explain that just because he has those feelings, doesn’t mean he had any intentions on acting on them.

This is the sentiment from many suffering with illnesses like depression — ultimately, we don’t want to die. We want our lives to get better.

Though he made himself better, it broke my heart for a myriad of reasons. For one thing, he brings so much joy to his audience; it seems unfair that he has to suffer with both anxiety and depression. On a more personal level, I too have dealt with similar feelings and if someone so seemingly happy still has to deal with suicidal thoughts, is there any hope for the rest of us?

Yes there is.

As cliché as it sounds, things do get better … then they get worse. But this seemingly endless stream of ups and downs is something everyone has to deal with. Those with depression, Bipolar Disorder, anxiety, etc., are going to have a harder time dealing with it.

There’s nothing wrong with it as long as you realize it’s not your fault.

Oftentimes, we get so caught up in our bad feelings that we let guilt overwhelm us. Of all the negative feelings we might have in the moment, guilt can be the worst.

Telling yourself not to feel a certain way might be pointless, but as long as you make an effort to take care of yourself — whether it be treating yourself via antidepressants, therapy or engaging in safe activities that you enjoy — you owe it to yourself (and no one else) to make yourself feel mentally strong enough to face the world.

Hanging out with friends and having hobbies won’t cure you of your condition, but it can help. Outside of having loved ones, you do need to find a reason to live because you want to and not because you feel like you have to.

One particular instance in which I had to dig to find a way to not succumb to my depressive feelings happened some years back.

For a year, my friends had bragged about an instance in which they hung out on the rooftop of a hotel during a trip they took. It sounded like a good time, so I daydreamed a lot about what it would’ve been like if I was there. But when I found myself on that same rooftop two years later, my thoughts weren’t on anything even in the neighborhood of excitement or happiness.

As I looked down at the city below, wind whipping past my face, all I could think I about was how easy it’d be to step off the edge. Deep down I knew I wasn’t going to act on it, but for the rest of the night, the thought that stuck in my head was: what was stopping me from jumping?

That night, I was able to recognize that I did have a desire to live, I just let my illness briefly cloud my judgment.

Coming from a person who has both literally and figuratively been standing on the edge, one of the most beneficial things you can do for yourself is to recognize the difference between what you’re thinking and feeling.

You might feel like ending it, but if you know there are reasons for you to live, it won’t make 100 percent happy to stay, but it’ll remind you that you have incentive to do so.

The mantra “I feel weak but I know I’m strong,” repeats over and over in my head anytime I feel like I’m succumbing to my mental illnesses. And it really does help.

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