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Life and the true pursuit of happiness

Jun 12, 2017

I started out like many teenagers around the age of 15 or 16 trying to find the meaning in life. Through meaning; unfolds a story, a story that one creates and ends, but never is forgotten.

I’m a 20 year old man.

Growing up, I suffered depression, anxiety, and ADD. I didn’t necessarily understand these feelings and emotions that triggered anger, sadness, hopelessness and an irrational fear of what life had in store for me. As I got through elementary, junior high, and eventually reached high school, I started to realize I was different from most kids that were just getting into tenth grade and turning 16. Well, that’s what I thought. The first party I went to, I got very intoxicated just like others that were there. I drank until I realized how great it was I could drown out my sorrows, my anxiety, my depression, and again this irrational fear of where life is going to take me. Unknown to me this would be the start of something I wouldn’t be able to control. As the tenth grade year went on, I started to really feel these emotions of depression that slowly but surely turned into suicidal thinking and planning. I can remember one night like it was yesterday… a hopeless kid with a plan to end my pain. With tears running from my eyes, I made my first attempt of many. Though I thought I had done the job, I woke up to family addressing me about my situation. I was pissed off. I wanted them to leave me alone so I could drown out my sorrows. I eventually agreed to talk to them. They brought up that I was going to be going to an inpatient unit for adolescents. Not knowing what this meant, I simply was empty inside and agreed to go. Now, this was my first introduction to mental illness and suicide. I began to see how minors use substances to escape like I was doing and to address (avoid) what I was really feeling. The tears didn’t stop as I talked about what had happened in my life and how it affected me so bad that I couldn’t even imagine going to my parents or even a friend to simply say I needed help. Such a simple word, yet the hardest to say. As I attended day in and day out, I started to realize I was not alone. I realized nobody was alone in this battle of recovery. We were survivors of something we had no clue about how to handle. This led me on a 4 year journey which ended up being 6 inpatient visits and many outpatient groups. I started to realize that not only were we survivors… we were fighters and there was no giving up. I attempted suicide in many different ways and eventually landed in the ICU with a breathing tube and in a coma. Yet, I was still fighting in my heart and my soul for myself and for the ones I loved.

In the end, I eventually realized that the people I drank with were also going through some of the same things I was and yet asking for help felt like a challenge that was impossible to beat. Yet, that’s exactly what I had to do to live.

Now, I have a group that I meet with. We support each other. We hike, have dinner, and just be there for one another.  I use a method called SUDs, subjective units of distress, to measure my stress level. I have a plan in place.  I know when I reach a 7 out of 10, I call the warm line at UNI.  When I reach an 8, or feel I’m going to reach 8, I call the suicide hotline.  When I’m hitting a 9 or 10, I have a prearranged doctor to call to put me in the hospital and avoid the ER.  My plan works.  Find one that works for you.

I really want to say to every person that reads this who might be going through the same thing or knows someone that may be going through some type of mental illness, suicidal thinking or anything in between, always know that someone is battling with you! Hope is always around the corner! Never give up! Never give in! Always remember there will be another day and that people care. Suicide is the saddest thing I’ve witnessed. I know that if we unite together, even anonymously, we can make great things happen. Spread hope and be that voice when you see something you know isn’t right. You might be that person to save a life. You never know where this journey in life will take us. Always remember this earth was built on the idea of not giving up. Give it your all and know the sun will shine again no matter where you find yourself right now. Ask for help.

Love you all!

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