Today, while cleaning out my room, I found my old file folder. Inside, I stored all of my important papers over the years. As I looked through, I found a suicide note I had written several years ago. This was not the first time I had stumbled upon one, but it was the most impactful.

Reading through it was difficult, but I can’t imagine it being more difficult than writing it was. Even though it was me who wrote it, I feel worlds apart from the version of myself who was ready to end her life so many years ago.

There have been times when I have reflected on the events of the past 10 years, but never to the extent that I did today. It terrifies me to think about how close I was to ending my life; the amount of times I sat down with a pen and paper and thought for hours about what my last words would be. Sometimes I could fill a book with all the goodbyes I wanted to say, and other times, a simple sentence was all people would have been left with.

For the first time, I really thought about what ending my life so many years ago would have meant, and how I was prepared to do it. Today, I looked at the note and realized one thing: I was wrong. The self-hatred-filled lines, along with statements of misdirected anger, were enough to make me break down in tears.

I wish I could go back and give myself a hug. I wish I could go back and tell myself that I was never as alone as I thought I was, and that people really did love me, although I know I would not have been able to believe it at the time.

I tried to hide my illness

Suicide is something I have never written about before. Over the past 10 years, I have never let myself go back for more than a second to remember the place I so frequently inhabited. Today, I did just that. Reading the note took me back to the person I was so many years ago, a person haunted by mental illness.

I remember all the times I felt I couldn’t do tomorrow, couldn’t even make it there. All the times I felt that going to school was impossible, and doing anything became impossible. I remember the paralyzing fear that consumed me the majority of the time, and how everything in my life became so hidden. 

It all seemed to happen so fast. It felt like one day, I woke up and things were just too much for me. That feeling never fully went away. It breaks my heart to think about how young I was and how I didn’t understand what was going on inside my head. It breaks my heart that I felt like I had to do it all by myself.

For such a long time, I tried to hide my illness from my family, from everyone in my life, because I was afraid of what they would think if they found out. For so long, I thought I was the only person like this. I did not know what depression was.

I often wondered if there was even a point. I wanted things to have a purpose, to make sense in the end. I wanted things to just click one day. I thought that if I could understand why I felt like this, I could make it stop. I wanted to know why things happened the way they did.

Time and time again, my life has made a bit of sense, and at those times, a wave of calmness would wash over me. I would believe that this is it; this is the last time I will feel like this. Of course, this mindset only made it harder when I became sad again. That’s why I was shocked after chapters in my life would end and I was left feeling more confused than anything.

While experiencing parts of my life, I was at times left more depressed than I was at what I had previously considered my worst moments.

Learning to live moment by moment

The one thing that gave me hope during those difficult years was the idea that tomorrow could be better. The idea that eventually a tomorrow would come and bring a bit of hope and understanding, the idea that I could feel some sense of purpose.

I am learning to live moment by moment, because I cannot guarantee I will be able to do more than simply exist. I know now that there is nothing wrong with simply existing.

I used to think there was a solution, as if depression was a math problem that could easily be solved. I met people whom I believed could fix every problem in the world with only their words. I was disappointed to discover that they were only human.

Now, I am able to be hopeful during the bad times, and I am learning to be grateful and appreciate the good ones. I am confident there will be more good days. I am learning to live moment by moment, because I cannot guarantee I will be able to do more than simply exist. I know now that there is nothing wrong with simply existing.

I am judging myself less and less for experiencing these emotions. Today, I am able to see all the progress I have made, the crucial moments. There are times when I question whether I was a real person during those years. I am sure I would have turned out completely different had I not learned some very hard lessons about humility and empathy.

Through the good and bad, I have been a constant in my life. Some days, that is the greatest thing in the world, and other days, I despise that very fact. A big part of my experience with mental illness has been that I can’t always trust myself and my judgment. It is a difficult feeling to look in the mirror and question who is really there.

Today, I forced myself to reflect on how much I have grown. I thought about how I arrived at this place in my journey. Doing so brought back uncomfortable memories, but it felt important to remember them.

Tomorrow is already here

Today, I learned that although it may seem that the best way to live is to put all the bad stuff behind you, it can be important to go back to where you came from to make sure you didn’t forget anything along the way. The strength you showed all the times you swore you couldn’t do tomorrow, but ended up making it through the night. The times you stayed and the times you survived.

I think it is important to look back, even if the only purpose is to appreciate how far you have come.

Today, I have made it to my tomorrow. While I celebrate this realization, I also mourn those who did not make it to their tomorrow, the people who never got the chance to experience the weight lifting, the days becoming a bit easier, a bit better. The biggest lie is that tomorrow never comes. Tomorrow is already here.

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