It came from Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig. He says about it, “I think the statement is just a declaration that life is not always going to be the same, that when we feel we are in the bad place we have to ride it out, because there will be many better times, many better versions of us, which we can reach simply by holding (on). … Depression lies. And I found beauty in life after I thought it had been made extinct.”
TWLOHA goes onto explain, “At the heart of this campaign is an ask, that you will keep going. That you will stay and fight. And not just fight but rest, and let others fight as you recover. We should win and lose together, for that’s the way it’s meant to be. That’s a life best lived.
“Your story isn’t over. The air in your lungs is there for a reason. Let’s keep going. Let’s keep living.
“And so I kept living.”
Part of their efforts is for those of us who have kept living to say why. I have been open about how I cut in high school . It is part of who I am. I refused to be ashamed about it. But that is part II of the story.
Part I:In eight grade life hurt. I was broken in so many ways. My heart was shattered from the loss of first affection (I refuse to even call it any form of love). I was lonely at school, at home. I was lost. There was a lot of pain ripping through my family. I felt left behind and forgotten. I learned to keep my head down and just don’t mess up. Don’t add to the chaos. Don’t make your parents cry. Be the good girl. Or more accurately: just survive without causing a sound.
It was hard. I needed something that was not there. Survival on fumes depletes everyone. I thought if there was one less person around things might be better.
I don’t remember which came first – cutting or suicide. It’s irrelevant really. I remember taking too many Advil and praying I wouldn’t wake up. I didn’t write a note. I didn’t give things away. I just wanted to decrease the chaos and dull the pain within myself.
A couple weeks after, a girl my age in our community shot herself. She found her father’s gun and took her life. A lot of people at my school knew her and it rocked us. Someone passed out ribbons. Her friends cried. It was something so unimaginable, sort of. I remember being jealous. Her pain was over and I’d failed to end mine. I remember shuffling between classes, waiting for a teacher to address what happened. Only they couldn’t, because what do you say?
I went to English (bless you Mrs. Dillon). She spoke into what was happening. She said our lives mattered. We mattered. She spoke into our pain, our questions and uncertainty. She asked none of us to do what this girl did because we all severely underestimated who cared about us. She was heartbroken this girl felt she no one to talk to but she hoped we all knew we could talk to her.
Just keep on living…
Mrs. Dillon saved my life.I went home that day and something switched. Life would not always be this moment. Someday I would be out of high school. I could fly away to wherever I wanted to go and soar. I didn’t have to repeat the mistakes around me.
I wanted more for myself than where I was. And so that is why I kept living.
I still cut until I was sixteen. Resolve doesn’t mean chaos stops or pain heals. I knew which way to cut to die and which way to cut to hurt. I needed to hurt. I needed to feel. I needed something to control when life was uncontrollable.
But it was never again to die. I kept my eyes on the goal: someplace safe where I could be who I am. I didn’t find it until I was 22, at an internship program in DC. It was the first place I didn’t stutter when I said my own name. It was the place I could breathe and just be myself.
I kept living because I knew someday it would get better.
I kept living because life is so much bigger than middle school, high school or college.
I kept living because I refused to let pain, judgment, hatred and jealously win.
I kept living because I knew God was not done with me.
I kept living because tomorrow can be a really sweet victory to march towards.
I kept living, and I am so glad I did.
Find out more about TWLOHA’s campaign here.