Content warning: The following post contains references to self-harm (including hanging), suicidality, anxiety, and depression, which may be triggering to some readers.
"Keep Fighting," Brady Turner
I don’t really know where to start. For me I had always had a tumultuous childhood. My biological father left my mother and I when I was a toddler. When I was told this I was seven and my life changed from that moment. Who would want me if my own father didn’t? Why am I not worthy of love? From that moment I had trust issues and have always been concerned with people leaving me. Of being abandoned by those who promise to cherish my life.
Fast-forward to my teenage years. I was highly anxious and engaged in self-harm habits of hitting myself, rocks, and believing that I was worth nothing. I watched as my mother’s second and third marriage dissolved and felt torn apart by my family. That following summer I met, whom I believed at the time, was my soulmate.
She was my first girlfriend the first person who I thought really cared about me and wasn’t forced into it. However, she threatened to kill herself if I ever left her. That she would self-harm if I made her too nervous. This exacerbated my anxiety as I felt that I had a human life in my hands. Eventually the relationship deteriorated and I broke up with her and in part because I had tried ending my life.
As I looked up on the ceiling the broken belt in my hands, bruises around my neck, I felt utterly hopeless. I didn’t know what to do or where to go. I felt that my family wouldn’t care. I was wrong about that. I told an aunt who got in touch with my parents who made sure I got treatment where I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression.
Near the end of being an undergraduate student I felt the happiest I’d ever been. I was in a committed relationship and things were going well. However, my past demons soon reemerged as her feelings changed. Having the conversation was incredibly difficult as I did not know where we stood or how I would live my life.
For me this brought back on the feelings that I thought I had under control. Looking back upon my experience I realize I had kept busy. Avoided addressing my feelings and had stopped seeing a counselor. I wept uncontrollably whenever I wasn’t at work. I felt so lethargic and my thoughts drifted back to that belt. About how it shouldn’t have broke. How I deserve to hurt and that nobody would ever want to be with me. People were commenting how I wasn’t being “normal” and for those I did confide in they said “think happy thoughts.”
I pulled away. Isolated myself even further. Why would I want to burden others with my depression and anxiety? When I get like this I know it’s wrong. That there are those that care and support me. My anxiety and depression are like demons in my ear pulling me away from what I know is true.
I fought for a long time by myself falling further into depression. I found some solace in working out, my mind and muscles being able to focus on something else. Exhausted I would go to bed after barely eating anything. I wrote a suicide note planning to go through with it. Not immediately, but in my head I knew it would be soon. Finally, I looked in the mirror one day and saw myself. I saw how exhausted I was. I was one person going to war and I was losing. I couldn’t keep the war up by myself. I knew what would happen if I did. So I reached out. Not to a relative, but to friends who are as close as family. They listened and didn’t judge. They offered to be a shoulder a cry on or to be someone who I could yell to the world my frustrations.
My mind is my own enemy taunting me begging me to an endless war that has no end in sight. For far too long I’ve been fighting this war on my own, not utilizing the support that I have around me. Friends and family have shown me that while I may be in a war I’m not alone.
I struggle with depression and anxiety every day. It’s a battle which I lose some days. I cry immobilized in bed my anxiety and depression pulling me in two different directions. Sometimes I look at myself ready to strike to beat the battle inside of me. I think about giving in and just giving up on the war. I stop and I look in the mirror at the demons taunting me to give up, to lay down my life.
I think about who I would hurt by doing so, and how I can work to make the world a better place. Suicide is something that I think about on a daily basis. When things get bad I reach out now so I’m not alone. Being alone in your own thoughts can be the worst torture. I’m writing this story so that others can know they aren’t alone. That their biggest enemy isn’t out wandering the world. It’s themselves. I’m writing so that those who haven’t struggled with suicide can understand the pain we endure.
You can help those fighting suicide. Don’t just say you’ll be someone they can talk to. Be there and be present. You don’t have to say anything your presence will make all the difference. People can’t fight this war alone. Don’t ignore the soldier on the ground. They just need someone to help pick them back up.
About the art:
This painting is for Brady. Brady had a vision in mind for his piece of hills and mountains with a path in the middle and the quote "Sometimes even to live is an act of courage."
This quote is perfect for his story because it really speaks to the strength of his character. Some days it takes it takes a lot of energy and courage just to make it to the end of the day. The starry sky I painted to represent the endless possibilities that are out in the universe for each of us. The winding road signifies that no path through life is straight and easy.
There will be bumps and unexpected turns and even forks in the road. Sometimes it is necessary to stop and take a breath once in a while. I hope Brady loves his artwork and it inspires him through tough times.