Reasons Why I Should Die – Coming Back from Teenage Suicidal Ideation - OC87 Recovery Diaries

Reasons Why I Should Die – Coming Back from Teenage Suicidal Ideation

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I’m writing now as a happy and fulfilled young adult. I live in New York and work on a social media team for a brand that I admire. I have a boyfriend who I love and I am working on recording my first solo album. I don’t list these things to brag—I list them because, ten years ago, I never would have thought my life would end up this way. In fact, ten years ago, I thought my life was worth ending.

My struggle began in high school, when most teenagers are discovering their angst and learning how to balance their desire for freedom with their fears of the unknown. I became unhappy, and, in that respect, I was not unlike a lot of my peers. Algebra was challenging, classmates were mean, and dating was confusing and embarrassing. It didn’t seem like I was experiencing anything the people around me weren’t, but I was feeling something that I couldn’t explain, something that was maybe more than ordinary sadness or frustration. I felt like, even though we were all standing on solid ground, I was the only person sinking.

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As this feeling grew, I began to fold into myself. I wanted to shut myself off from the world, despite how the loneliness fueled my sadness. I became uninterested in dance, the one hobby I had and, up until that year, my greatest passion. I had danced since I was four years old and dance accounted for almost every minute of my free time, not to mention all of my friends. Without explanation, I wanted to quit. My mom, surprised and sad, eventually caved and let me leave. Looking back, this was the decision that pushed me over the top. When I walked away from dance, I took everything away from myself, perhaps punishing myself for feeling the way I did. Without anything to keep me afloat, I began to desire a way out. My parents decided to take me to a doctor when they found a list in my room titled Reasons I Should Die. It was a long list. That was the moment my mom knew that what had been tempting to regard as my “teen angst” was something more than that. That list was how we found out I was struggling with depression.

She did everything she could to help me. We saw doctors, I spent a short time in the psychiatric hospital, we tried different medications, and all the while I felt like I had failed her. She is an amazing woman and I felt that she deserved a happy daughter who appreciated the life she was given. I wasn’t living up to my own expectations, and I refused to voice these thoughts to her because it felt too honest. It wasn’t until I found a treatment that worked for me that I began to think more clearly and realize I wasn’t feeling sad on purpose. Even then, it wasn’t until years later that I realized I shouldn’t feel ashamed of my mental illness. Depression is so common and can be so detrimental if not treated. I saw where the CDC stated that more than 50% of all Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their lifetime.

I speak with my mom openly now about my struggles and I’ve learned that she struggles with a lot of the same issues with which I wrestle. We’re not so different, and this realization has changed our relationship, as we can now turn to each other when we’re feeling down and out. Sometimes I think about the list I wrote and how I left it in plain sight in my room. It was absolutely a cry for help, but what if my parents hadn’t seen it? What if I never put it beside my bed? If we don’t talk about mental illness, it will always be a big dark hole that we can’t understand. I urge anyone who is struggling to reach out to friends, family, or a professional. You are not alone and you are absolutely not a problem. The darkness goes away; you just need help shining a light on it.

Now, I have accepted who I am and what it takes for me to feel happy and healthy. I, like so many others, am someone with depression. And that’s okay! I take medication daily and I’m currently looking for a therapist in Brooklyn so that I can continue to feel as emotionally stable as I do now. Of course, I still have bad days. There are days when I dislike myself and the life I have created, despite being proud of it on good days. There are days when I’m overwhelmed with sadness, and my boyfriend lets me cry to him and reminds me that I am loved and safe. Perhaps the biggest silver lining for me is the fact that these feelings are what inspired me to begin writing music. Songwriting is therapeutic for me and it has pulled me out of many dark times by allowing me to express myself and unravel what I’m feeling and why. It allows me to create something beautiful using something that feels painful and ugly. For that, I am thankful.

 

EDITOR IN CHIEF / EDITOR: Gabriel Nathan | DESIGN: Leah Alexandra Goldstein | PUBLISHER: Bud Clayman

See Related Recovery Stories: Depression, Mental Health First Person Essays

Ashley Armstrong is a musician and social media personality. She is a member of the female folk trio Dear Ears, and is currently recording her solo EP 'For Ghosts'. You can find her online under the name Ashley Strongarm, and see more of her music here.

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