Persist.

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I’ve never been one to open up, to let people in, to share my struggle. From the outside looking in, you would never have guessed. About a year ago my life was flipped upside down. I began arguing with, lost, and was betrayed by the one person I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life next to. The one person that I loved wholeheartedly for 4.5 years, lived with, and thought would never drop me; did without hesitation when she met someone else. I applied to graduate school for Physical Therapy and got my denial letters around the same time. While these two life events happened I was getting test after test done with a doctor being pretty positive I had lymphoma (which the tests came back negative – praise Jesus). Just three of the major life events tied in with a hundred others.

I hit rock bottom. I was shown failure. I was shown the one person I trusted with my life and made a million promises was the first person to turn their back. Though-out this process of hurt, heartbreak, guilt, shame, anger, failure, sickness – I lost myself. I lost myself in the process of loving someone else too much. In putting this expectation on myself that I was a failure by not getting into a Doctoral program at 23. In beating myself up because I let myself go and wasn’t taking care of my body, my health, and my state of mind.

I will never forget driving home every weekend my last semester of college just to get out of Indy and having my parents make me eat something with my loss of appetite. I will never forget dropping weight and hitting 104 pounds. I will never forget the friends that came over and stayed with me in order for me to be able to sleep and making sure I was getting up for my internship on time. I will never forget the phone calls from family friends to assure I was alive. I will never forget my sister moving to Indy to help me move forward and the countless times she sat down next to me as I laid restless, hopeless on the bathroom floor. I will never forget silent and tear filled hugs where I melted into those that cared for me. I will never forget the look of worry on my parents and friends faces as they watched me hyperventilate, lay in bed with no energy to get up, and lose traumatic weight in a short amount of time… with nothing they could really do about it but sit next to me and wait for my strength to build up. I will never forget bawling every single day for months and sitting in empty parking lots over and over because I couldn’t see to drive home.

I will never forget the day I wanted to end this pain. The day I sat quietly with tears streaming down my face, with my head to my knees contemplating life. Planning. Contemplating. Planning. I will never forget picking up my phone to make my last phone call and to send those last texts. Picking up a pen to write the last letters to those I loved. With my mind so clouded and my heart so crushed. I THOUGHT this was going to make everything completely better. I didn’t want to endure the pain of suicide but I also didn’t want to endure this pain that life consistently put on me in such a short amount of time. Maybe it’s silly to some but to me everything suddenly was changing and my world was rocked.

At this point my friends and family talked me into seeing a therapist and so that’s where I started. Going hour after hour, week after week, day after day to my therapist (even though I wasn’t sure about this at first). Crying, fighting, suicidal, restless… months later – Sitting in the shower with tears running down my face – it finally hit me. The day finally came. Why am I letting someone/something have control over my emotion… my choices? My life? I am not my past. I am not my failure. I am not my mistakes. I am not the relationship that failed. I am not this person that they so unapologetically made me out to be. I am not the way I once reacted from pure emotion and distress. I am human and I lost myself in this process. I lost sight of the woman I am and the woman I am meant to be. I lost the free spirited, genuine, laughing, joking, goal -oriented, passionate, driven, giving, and loving person that I am.

And that’s the day I buried that girl. I got out of the shower and wiped my face while staring in the fogged up mirror. I promised myself no matter how hard life gets, I have an amazing group of people that give a damn about me and to never plan to end my life again over people that frankly didn’t care if I was alive anyway, over a school that failed to see what I had to offer, over life being life. I promised to never give someone or something the power and control to make me feel as if I don’t belong here. The countless hours my real friends and family spent with and on me and the overwhelming love and support – it would have been a waste. After all of the life events I’ve endured I finally broke but I decided to be the person I KNOW I am and FIGHT the good fight

I am now volunteering time a month to a cause that means something to me. I have changed my route and I’m beginning to give back to those in need. I get to work at a nationally ranked hospital, with an amazing team of people that lift me up everyday. I vacationed to Las Vegas, Nashville, Louisville, and Hawaii – I cannot wait to travel, road trip, and vacation again! I’ve met incredible people with inspiring stories. I am reapplying to graduate programs to hopefully start this year. If I didn’t hit rock bottom I wouldn’t be where and who I am now. I now know what love truly is. Ive been in the gym ALONE working on MY goals to make ME happy. Ive finally gained weight back and I’ve EXPERIENCED life and the joy it has to offer me. In the last 5 years of living in Indy, I have explored more these last 4 months than I have the entire time being here. I LOVE life. I have found hobbies I never knew I enjoyed. I’ve gotten involved in activities and groups that are inspiring and make me a better person. I can laugh out loud with sincerity behind it. I can smile big with it being genuine. I am ME. I am different. I am growing. I am accepting myself for all I am and all I am not. I still hurt…sometimes badly. I still struggle.. and I am positive I will slip and stumble 1000 more times but I now realize I am human, it’s okay to fall, and it’s all apart of the journey.

The point is this…. even the best of us fall down sometimes. Even when the person seems to be amazingly happy go lucky, they are so easily hiding it. Be kind to others because you don’t know what they’re going through. Depression isn’t a joke. Anxiety isn’t a joke. Mental health isn’t a joke. We are ALL struggling. Use your story and inspire others. Use your heartbreak and let it drive you to be better, to do better.

If you’re struggling, reach out. It’s hard to go through things by yourself. You can pick yourself up over and over again but allow someone to speak positivity and realness into your life. You are NEVER alone even when it feels like you have no option, YOU DO. This went on for MONTHS and I felt like the most worthless person and even with the help surrounding me I was blinded by the fact that I was hurting, bleeding…depressed. Put pride aside and get help when it’s needed. Seeing a therapist doesn’t make you crazy, it makes you strong. To open up to a stranger, to step outside of your comfort zone all to BETTER your mental health and well being is courageous. Depression is real. Heartbreak is real. Suicide is real. Love the person next to you. Give a compliment. Pick up your phone when your loved ones are hurting. Pick up the phone and make peace with your past. Being vulnerable, being real, being YOU is HOT so don’t let anything stop you. I’m thankful for my friends and family for being them. So loving. So accepting. So patient.

Without the help, the love, the support, and the compassion from my friends, family, and therapist I may have succeeded at a life ending event and that is truly terrifying. I’m fired up for what life has to offer and I’m passionate about what big things I’m about to do for this world. If you knew me a year ago, you have no idea who I am now. My growth game is so strong. I’m brighter, stronger, kinder, happier, more independent, more determined, more inspired, more confident, more patient, more vulnerable, and more passionate about life than ever. New mind, new body, new life.

Conversation about personal struggles are uncomfortable, they’re hard, they’re SO needed. You matter. Your story matters. Your life matters.

It’s okay to not be okay. Just don’t give up because I promise it does get better. “Pain is temporary, the choice to leave is permanent.” Choose to.. Fight to.. STAY. 💙

Story submitted by Amber.