"Other People Have it Worse Than You"

...Sometimes they open it up like a package in the presence of a person they can talk to,’ she said. ‘Someone they can trust.’ She held out her hands. ‘Any person who is carrying a lot of sadness,’ she said, ‘needs to be able to rest sometimes, and to put it down.
— Julia Schumacher

This is a personal story. One I wish I didn’t have, one I wish never happened and I regret every day what I allowed these words to do to me.

It doesn’t take a lot to take someones courage away. The courage that they have worked days, weeks, months, even years to get. All gone with one sentence.

I allowed the depression and anxiety to ravage my mind for years. Growing up I was never really taught to talk about my feelings. My fears stayed hidden, my emotions were buried deep inside of me. The way that I thought about myself would bring the strongest person to their knees. I needed help and I refused to reach out for so many years that it became normal for me to suffer internally.

When this story happened I had already spent about half of my life fighting the thoughts of suicide. I had to keep reminding me of what it looked like from the outside when someone took their own life. That was the only thing keeping me here and that was soon about to be not good enough of a reason for me to continue. I was too young when I experienced suicide in the family and those memories were fading.

I knew there was something wrong with me, and I knew I had to get help fast before I did something that I couldn’t take back. I had two choices. Either I could keep trying to fight this on my own and let it destroy me, or I could get that help that I needed badly.

I was terrified. At the time it was always said that if you need help to reach out, but no one really told you how to start, or how difficult it would be. I couldn’t do it anymore. My depression was reaching this new peak. One that I hadn’t been to before.

I decided that I needed to reach out. I needed someone to listen. I needed to get it out of my head and into the open. I needed professional help, but I didn’t know where to start. I was fighting myself, I kept thinking I needed help, and then telling myself “no, I’m fine”.

I picked a teacher, one that I thought I could trust. One that many kids turned to for help with everything. One that I thought was going to listen, one that I thought was going to care. This was a huge step for me. I knew I couldn’t fight this battle alone anymore and I was putting all of my faith into this one person. I thought she was going to help me.

I was so wrong, and it still haunts me to this day. I wish I could wipe that memory from my mind, but the depression holds onto it so strongly.

I planned what I was going to say to her. I rehearsed it in my mind over and over. I wanted to say “I’ve been going through a hard time lately and I’m afraid of what I’m going to do to myself if I don’t get help.” I made a mistake when I said it. All the planning that I had done, the rehearsing, it didn’t prepare me for what was going to happen. Instead of it flowing smoothly out of my mouth, I paused after telling her that I was going through a hard time. My thoughts hesitated. The next part was on the tip of my tongue but I couldn’t get it to come out. Instead of continuing my perfectly rehearsed sentence, she took the pause in my words as it was her turn to respond.

“Other people have it worse than you.”

In the second that it took for her to say those words was all it took to demolish all hope for me. In a second it was all gone. I worked so hard and fought with myself so much to gain a little bit of hope for a brighter future, and it was gone.

She, the person I trusted, the teacher that was supposed to help, instead gave me a whole new reason to hate myself. I wasn’t looking to be saved, I was just looking for help and instead, I received the exact opposite.

What hurt the most was knowing that she was right. I had a roof over my head, and I wasn’t starving or dying. It could have been much worse. The thing is, she didn’t know my story. She didn’t know my struggles, my pain. All she knew was what was on the outside. She didn’t bother to take the time to look deeper even though I was right there waiting to let it all out.

It has taken me years to understand that just because other people may “have it worse” doesn’t mean my thoughts, feelings, or problems are any less valid. Nobody gets to decide who deserves who gets help. Nobody gets to decide who might have it worse.

I still struggle with her words to this day.

My challenge for you today, take those words that are on the tip of your tongue and let them out. They’ve been fighting for a long time. It’s time to let them out. If the first person you go to doesn’t help, then go to another, and another until somebody helps you. Somebody will help you. They can’t fix you, but they can help you.