Here’s the thing: I’ve been thinking about how to write this post for a long time. I’ve played with messages, metaphors, spins. I’ve written, and I’ve erased. I couldn’t figure out how to tell this, or even if to tell it. Nothing about my story is unique. Nothing is particularly exciting or groundbreaking. I won’t say anything that hasn’t been said before.
But none of that matters.
Because in this case, it’s quantity over quality. In this case, it only matters that I add my voice to the conversation. It only matters that I raise my hand and say, “Me, too.”
So I’m abandoning my usual need for perfection in order to simply send the message.
Our biggest enemy is silence. Silence leads to the illusion of solitude, of singularity, and this inevitably leads to loneliness. Loneliness leads to hopelessness, which leads to desperation, and the land of desperation is where we lose people every day. People end up in desperation because the stretch of time in front of them feels utterly unbearable when they believe they’re going to do it alone.
I know that from the outside, I look like I pretty much have it together. I’ve always had that problem. (Okay, it’s not a problem per se, but it has always prevented me from being transparent.) I’ve got a solid job, a wonderful husband, great friends, etc. I’m reasonably attractive, and I have some talents. I can even be extroverted when the mood strikes and come off as fairly sociable.
What is far less apparent when you look at me is the years upon years of internal warfare that I’ve waged. For pretty much as long as I can remember, I’ve suffered from persistent and sometimes severe depression and anxiety, even as a young child. As a teen, this presented in damaging and dangerous issues like self-harm and suicidal ideation. As a young adult, it looked like self-medication and denial. As a 30-something, I’ve finally learned to turn to therapy, spirituality, and medication to help tame my mental-illness-laden genetics. I could tell you the stories, and perhaps one day I will, but really none of that matters. What matters is that though I may never be fixed, I am always fighting.
It matters that I tell you this because silence has been my enemy for a long time, and I know it is a demon that haunts too many other people. It matters because at some point, I know you reach your tipping point. You have to make a choice between continuing like this, or… not. My hope is that by coming out of the shadow of my own struggles, I can help shed light into someone else’s darkness. I know you can only live under the thumb of misery for so long before you throw your hands up and surrender. But there’s a lot to be had here, experienced and felt and given and shared, and I think it’s worth the fight.
The harder we fight, the braver we are. The braver we are, the happier we will be.