The Start of Something

Its so hard to talk when you want to kill yourself. That’s above and beyond everything else, and it’s not a mental complaint-it’s a physical thing, like it’s physically hard to open your mouth and make the words come out. They don’t come out smooth and in conjunction with your brain the way normal people’s words do; they come out in chunks as if from a crushed-ice dispenser; you stumble on them as they gather behind your lower lip. So you just keep quiet.
— Ned Vizzini, It's Kind of a Funny Story

I don’t know where to start. I sit here trying to come up with the right words as I allow my depression to consume me from the inside and all I can think is that nothing I say will be right, or good enough to grab someone’s attention. My doctors say I have to try, so here I am trying even though everything inside me is screaming to give up before I even begin.

My name is Chad, and I have allowed depression and anxiety to rule my life. I’m 30 years old and I’ve had these monsters sitting on my shoulders for the past 20 years. I’ve made attempts at getting better, and I’ve made attempts at giving up. Both seem to leave their own scars.

I’ve had my stays at mental health units. Comparing them, which one is better? Before all of this I never thought I would be able to ask that question. When I was a kid I never dreamed of a life of internal pain and misery. One where it’s hard to formulate the words about how I’m feeling, and yet here I am.

People say I’m strong, and maybe they’re right. I’ve suffered mental, physical, and sexual abuse and I’m still here to tell my story. All the times I wanted to give up, I’m still here. I still don’t feel strong though, as these thoughts blind my mind.

So why am I writing this? Because, the most painful thing in my life so far has been sitting in mental health units listening to others pain. Hearing the wonderful mother that has just tried to overdose twice tell me that she isn’t good at anything even though I can see she has raised at least one amazing daughter.

Seeing the teens come in with bloody arms, and the blood is only covering hundreds of scars. Hearing about the teen that tried to shoot himself. The recovering addicts hoping for a better future. All these people sitting around talking about how each other is a great person, but we don’t believe it about ourselves. But knowing I’m not alone, even if they are complete strangers, gives me some kind of hope. I don’t know how it helps, but it does.

The first step to fixing this thing is ending the stigma of mental illness. We aren’t broken people. We aren’t “troubled”. We are people with different stories. Those stories need to be told. Mental illness is so common and yet for some reason it’s such a taboo subject. Not anymore. Even if I only help one person, this project would be worth it.

So I ask you to reach out. Help yourself, help someone else. Do something. I want to share your story to help others.