The Blog: On Second Thought



There’s this boy, you see …

Isn’t that the way all tragic stories start, the way all hearts get broken?

There’s this boy, and even though I love him he loves someone else. And even though I would give anything to be the one he chose, I’m not. And even though I prayed so much that God would let it work out this time, just this one time, please, God, can you act like you care about me … it didn’t work.

There’s this boy, and I think he’s beautiful and our personalities just mesh and I want to be his best friend for life. But he loves someone else.

And the hardest part of this isn’t that a boy loves another girl more than me.

The hardest part is that I’ve had this odd thought: God, I guess, must love this other girl more than me.

The hardest part is that I’ve had this odd thought: God, I guess, must love this other girl more than me.

For a long time that’s the only explanation I had, the only reason I came up with for why she got the boy and I didn’t. God shone his light on her life and not mine, he decided to favor her and not me, that she’s blessed and I’m not.

Unlike her, I’m a little overweight, I struggle with depression, I’m not confident, my face lacks beauty, I’m a few sizes too big, and my mind is broken in ways unimaginable.

I’ve been told that if I work out and eat well I’ll be happier and I’ll be prettier and someone will finally be able to love me.

In my darkest moments, those are the thoughts that accost me.

But I don’t think they’re actually right. There’s this part of me that rebels against all those voices – others’ voices saying I need to change, and my own voice saying God loves me less.

That’s the part of me that still believes, that still raises my hands in joyful worship and gets “He is here” tattooed on my forearm to remind me that I am never alone.

I’ve been so lonely lately. I’ve taken to wandering through Manhattan after work at midnight, crying and letting loneliness wash over me. Any time I’m not with people, I am crushed by the awareness of my solitude.

But I’m not. Alone, that is. That’s the whole point of my tattoo, is that I’m never alone. That God is with me.

And maybe the boy didn’t choose someone else because God loves me less. Maybe it’s just that God wants me to focus on Him right now.

Maybe this is a season for me to realize the overwhelming and constant presence of God in my life and bask in that.

I want someone to love me. I want to stop being depressed, stop feeling like I’m in a box that only death will release me from. I’ve been struggling with suicidal thoughts again lately, because I’m lonely and overcome.

And something stops me every time. A friend, or overwhelming weariness, or the simple fact that I want to live, dammit.

I want to live.

I want to love.

I think that’s what I’m supposed to focus on right now. Not a boy. Not his girl. Not my lack of being her. I need to focus on living for something greater and loving someone greater.

I need to focus on living for something greater and loving someone greater.

That’s not me trying to oversimplify it or saying it’s gonna be easy, or that I’m gonna be happy from here on out. I’ll probably still call my friends crying at 1 am (shoutout to Chi) or have the urge to hurt myself or wonder if God really loves me. But despite all that, I am still gonna try.

Because I want to live. I want to love. And I’m refusing to be just another tragic heartbreak story. I’m not just another broken girl. I feel like my mind is beaten and battered and bent but that’s not the end of me. I’m lonely and sad and unrequited love sucks, it really sucks, but it’s not the end of me. It can’t be.

Karis is a grad student at NYU in New York City. Her writing has appeared online with Seventeen as well as Good Housekeeping. She blogs at To stay informed about all her writing, sign up here.



This post originally appeared on TWLOHA and was republished with permission.




Excuse me.


With the onset of my depression and anxiety, “sorry” became my favorite word. Sorry for bumping into you, even if you hardly noticed. Sorry my hair sticks up on one side and I’m not wearing makeup. Sorry I’m so thin when you’re trying to lose weight. Sorry for thinking about how hard it is for me to maintain weight when you’re trying to deal with your own problems. Sorry the gift you bought me doesn’t fit. Sorry.



Sorry for being as smart as I am but not pursuing a career in medicine or engineering. Sorry that my leg bounces up and down and it distracted you. Sorry you feel you need to stop wearing your perfume because I’m having breathing problems.

Sorry for taking up space. Sorry for being sad or scared. Sorry for not smiling as brightly as you expect me to, or for not paying you the attention you deserve when you tell me about your day. Sorry for needing a ride instead of growing up and getting a license. Sorry for finally getting a license and not always parking perfectly or taking turns smoothly. Sorry for drawing instead of looking at you because I’ve become too anxious for eye contact.

I didn’t realize how much I was doing it until my dad said, “Stop apologizing for existing.”

“Sorry,” I said, proving his point.

Depression and anxiety told me I was worthless. They told me that I was responsible for fixing everything wrong with the lives of my loved ones. They told me I needed to stop making mistakes. They told me I needed to participate in conversations and get a social life (but they also told me not to hog the spotlight). I always needed to become better or smarter or something. Depression and anxiety told me I was never enough.

They’re still telling me that. And some days, I still believe them.

But on those days I remind myself that depression and anxiety are lying. 

But on those days I remind myself that depression and anxiety are lying. No one is perfect, and even if I’m not good enough (or so they tell me) I still have value; I can contribute in a positive way to the lives of those around me.

If depression and anxiety are lying to you, that’s OK. Just remind yourself what’s true. And most importantly, don’t apologize: for taking up space, for living your life, for being you.

You are worth more than that. You don’t have to be sorry.

(Source: Kate Williams via

(Source: Kate Williams via

This post originally appeared on TWLOHA and was republished with permission.

Tomorrow morning I’m going back to therapy. For me, it is one of the hardest decisions I’ve made, perhaps even harder than choosing to ask for help the first time. I’m proud of the progress I’ve made in the last several years. I’m proud of the person I’ve become and will continue to become. I’ve learned to show myself grace in the process. But I’ve also learned nothing is static.

I wrote about my story for TWLOHA around a year ago and called it “Growing Into Beautiful” because I was. Everything in it remains true. I’ve learned to recognize my own worth. I’ve learned to find healing in the touch of the man I love and to not expect his fingers to leave bruises. I’ve learned to love myself enough to forgive a lot of people for a lot of things, including myself. I’ve watched time march onward and me march right along with it. I’m so alive these days, and I’m unafraid of that fact. But my growth process does not and cannot end there.

It took me time, but I eventually worked up the courage to share “Growing Into Beautiful” with a few of my closest friends. Most were supportive, having already known my history. After reading it one friend asked me if I thought I was “better now.” The answer is both yes and no.

Recovery is not a one-stop shop. 

Recovery is not a one-stop shop. I wish I could tell you it happens in a linear fashion: You go to therapy and then you stop when you’re all better. But that isn’t life. Recovery is the ebb and flow of an ocean. You may never see the whole thing; sometimes it will feel vast and overwhelming, and other times it will seem like the most calming thing in the world. For me, with every new panic attack or trigger, I understand a little more of what my first therapist told me: Sometimes things happen to us and we simply aren’t the same. I am not the same person I was before I walked this road.

Please understand me. I am still growing into my beautiful. This is the whole point of my previous post: to say that I am still growing into the story I’ve lived. But I also recognize that I’ve not yet learned to wear my stories and my scars with all the grace that I could. It’s easy to write posts that end with victory and recovery. It’s not easy to write follow-up posts that shed light on the reality that life is nuanced.

Your life doesn’t have to be falling apart for you to get help.

That’s why going back to therapy is the hardest thing for me right now. Because I could make a decent argument that I’m in a really good place, that I’m healthy. And maybe my return to therapy is a result of being in a healthy place: I know my own limits, and I respect myself enough to ask for help when I begin to push them. Yet, even knowing all those things, it is hard to fill out a form asking what areas I’m struggling in, to rate them on a scale of 1-10, and not feel like I somehow failed.

My friends: If you are like me, and you’ve been through some dark things and come out on the other side, please hear me. Your life doesn’t have to be falling apart for you to get help. It is not shameful to still need help. It was not shameful to ask for help the first time. It is not shameful that the struggle doesn’t fully eradicate itself even after all this time. I am speaking as much to myself as anyone else. It is not shameful to still be growing. It is not shameful to go back to therapy because even though you’re stable, you’re not as whole as you thought you were. Me filling out these forms is the furthest thing from me failing; it’s me winning before a battle even begins. It’s me taking preventative measures because an ounce of prevention is far easier to swallow than a pound of cure after I’ve already relapsed.

 It is not shameful to go back to therapy because even though you’re stable, you’re not as whole as you thought you were.

So much of what happened in my life was out of my control. Asking for help is not one of those things. I am ending cycles before they even start. I’m going back to therapy. I’m letting that be a victory instead of a failure. And if you still need help I’m hoping you’ll have the courage to ask again as well. You deserve to know your story isn’t over yet. You deserve to know that healing takes time and that no one is expecting you to rush this process. You deserve to know how much you are loved, how much you are worth it. I’m walking this road with you, believing in better endings.



Nick Pitts and I were able to attend a recent event where a prominent journalist engaged in a Q & A about important issues facing our country. While the substance of his answers were interesting in their own way, the biggest takeaway for me from the event was what was probably a throw-away line for him. As he was describing a conversation he had with his boss at the time, he tried to give the context behind one of the questions that the boss had asked him. He stopped for a brief moment and said “You know, good CEOs and leaders always ask the right questions.”

I didn’t particularly resonate with much of the rest of the journalist’s comments the rest of the event, but that one line stuck with me and caused me to reflect on its truth. Why is it that the best leaders always seem to be asking the right questions? And what are those particular questions they seem to ask? We’ve all been in situations where we’ve witnessed this. There you are, in the middle of a meeting, whether it’s a large group of co-workers or just a one-on-one, and all of a sudden the leader stops the flow of conversation for a moment to ask a question. As the question is presented, the atmosphere of the meeting completely changes.

Good questions provide focus and clarity to a haphazard discussion. At other times they open the door to new ways of thinking. In still other contexts they cut like a knife through talk designed to obfuscate and distort. Questions have an unsettling quality that disturbs the equilibrium.

Good questions provide focus and clarity to a haphazard discussion.

Think about some of the great questions in the Bible: The Philippian jailer asking Paul and Silas “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30); Jacob, wrestling with God, being asked “What is your name?” (Genesis 32:27); God answering Job from out of the whirlwind “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the world?” (Job 38:4); Jesus asking the blind man near Jericho “What do you want me to do for you?” (Luke 18:41); Jesus asking Peter in Caesarea Philippi “But who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15). The list could go on and on with all the great questions.

We live in an ALL CAPS culture that tries to talk over each other and smash each other with our ideas or opinions. But great leaders know that sometimes the situation doesn’t need an authoritative statement or directive, however right or true it may be. Sometimes the great need of the moment is for the right question to be asked.

Sometimes the great need of the moment is for the right question to be asked.

If questions are so important to leadership, we need to ask ourselves if we are asking the right kinds of questions. Here is a list of a few of the kinds of questions that I’ve heard great leaders ask:

In hiring: Why do you want to work here?

In planning & strategy: What resources do we have that aren’t getting maximized?

In problem solving: What is the underlying root issue here?

In mentoring: What are you learning right now in your life?

In brainstorming: Will this idea/initiative/program further our mission or confuse and distract us from our mission as an organization?

Os Guinness helps clarify why questions are so valuable for leaders: “Statements can be subversive, especially if the information they carry is explosive. But in most cases, questions carry a subversive power that statements cannot match, because a statement always has the quality of ‘take it or leave it.’ . . . Questions, by contrast, are powerful for two reasons. First, they are indirect, and second, they are involving.” (Fool’s Talk, 163)

Many leaders are too busy and too scattered to be able to engage at a level deep enough to understand what kinds of questions need to be asked. 

Great questions stem from a curious and engaged mind. Many leaders are too busy and too scattered to be able to engage at a level deep enough to understand what kinds of questions need to be asked. Our world of always-on technology, instant gratification, and ever-shorter attention spans pushes us further and further away from taking the time to think through what needs to be asked. Our lives as leaders need to be fixed and directed in such a way that we have the capacity to help our people understand the tasks and goals before us. Many times this starts with a simple question.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Denison Forum ( and has been used with permission. Mark Cook has his Masters of Divinity, is a Ph.D. candidate at Dallas Baptist University, and is the program coordinator for the Institute for Global Engagement, a partnership between Denison Forum and Dallas Baptist University.

(Photo source: Pexels)

(Photo source: Pexels)

I’m not sure when this idea of “Friendsgiving” became so popular, but I am sure glad it did.

We did our annual friend feast this past week, where we gathered around four different tables, brought our kids over in their pajamas, and caught up with people we love but haven’t seen in a while. It was the best turkey I have ever had. Seriously.

Toward the end of the meal, our friend, Tad, got up and pulled out a book. I had seen him walk in with it earlier in the night and remember thinking, “How cute.” It was a children’s book about the first Thanksgiving. I thought maybe he had brought it for one of the kids. But when he stood up at the table and announced he was going to read, I finally connected the dots.

The book was “Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving”  by Eric Metaxas. Tad began telling the story and turning the pages. And as he did, the story started coming back to me. Here’s the summary from the book:

In 1608, English traders came to Massachusetts and captured a twelve-year-old Indian, Squanto, and sold him into slavery. He was raised by Christians and taught faith in God. Ten years later he was sent home to America. Upon arrival, he learned an epidemic had wiped out his entire village. But God had plans for Squanto. God delivered a Thanksgiving miracle: an English-speaking Indian living in the exact place where the Pilgrims landed in a strange new world.

As we neared the end, I was reminded of something that my pastor says a lot: God is at work in the mess. Listen, I can’t explain away pain, I can’t justify all the pain in the world, and I can’t tell you nothing bad will happen. But what I can say is that God is working behind the scenes. Squanto is the perfect example of that. He was captured, sold, and cut off from those he loved. In all of that, though, his life was saved, and he was used to save the lives of others.

I can’t explain away pain, I can’t justify all the pain in the world, and I can’t tell you nothing bad will happen. But what I can say is that God is working behind the scenes.

On Thanksgiving, it can be hard to cycle through all the mess of the last year and find the good. Maybe life has been so incredibly tough this year that it’s even difficult to find the silver lining in your next breath. Maybe time with family makes you anything but grateful. Maybe this time of year ushers in pain and depression.

If so, then maybe all you can muster is a hope that there is a God and that He is at work in the ugly, hard, crushing mess. I think that’s OK. It’s OK to be honest about where you are at. It’s OK to not be OK.

But know this is not where it all ends. Someone is at work. And maybe next year you can look back and realize you were living your own Squanto story.

Jonathon M. Seidl is the editor-in-chief of I Am Second.  You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram (@jonseidl) and like him on Facebook.



You know what I’ve come to realize lately? That it takes courage to be thankful.

I’d prefer to be a self-sufficient person. A one-man-show that doesn’t need nothin’ from nobody. A stoic lone ranger that’s willing to help others but never asks for it himself. Because telling someone “thanks” means I couldn’t do it myself.

Admitting that we need others, that we can’t do everything, is a reminder that it’s not all about us.

But here’s the thing: Opening ourselves up to others also means we’re opening up ourselves to face hurt and disappointment. Connections with other people can be treacherous.

Admitting that we need others, that we can’t do everything, is a reminder that it’s not all about us.

Just this week, I noticed that I was unfriended by somebody I considered to be a good friend. We just had a nice conversation a few weeks ago, but without any explanation, I was sent (virtually) packing.

See what I mean?  Being thankful means I’m not self sufficient. It means I’m willing to acknowledge that others have some control over my life. And it takes courage to admit that I’m reliant (to some degree) on other people —other people who are just as selfish and as flawed as I can be on any given day.

But we need people. We were meant to live in community. Other people challenge us, refine us, and help us be emotionally healthy people. And the older I get, the more I realize these are the areas I want to be healthy in most of all — more so than just being well off financially, I want to be part of a community of other people who love me and I love them in return. Starting with my family at home and spreading out from there.

Other people challenge us, refine us, and help us be emotionally healthy people.

I’m thankful for family and friends who try to pick me up and I’m feeling low.

I’m thankful for family and friends who are happy when good things come my way.

I’m thankful for family and friends that put up with me when I’m being selfish (and maybe call me out on it.)

I’m thankful for family and friends who respect my viewpoints and values even when they don’t agree with them.

I’m thankful for family and friends who let me give value to their lives in the same manner I listed above.

It takes courage to live in a community with fellow travellers through this life. So this Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for those who have the courage to love me, care about me, and challenge me.  And I’m going to be grateful for those who are willing to let me be a part of their lives as well.

Thomas Christianson is a professor, writer, and speaker living in the Baltimore area. You can find books, booking info, and blog posts at

(Photo source: Glenn Carstens-Peters via

(Photo source: Glenn Carstens-Peters via

“Okay, time to go around the table and tell everyone what you’re most thankful for!”

Yup, I’m that girl. Some people love it, and some people hate it. I understand why others may groan or laugh at this exercise. It may seem trite, trivial, or cheesy.

“Well, duh, I’m thankful for family” or “Of course, I’m thankful for health.”

It may feel silly in the moment. But, I fear that thankfulness gets a bad rap.

It has almost become this light-hearted, insignificant hashtag like #blessed or #liveauthentic.

Luv my friends #thankful.

*cue the cringing

But I don’t perceive thankfulness as this weak, fluffy, idealistic act. Not at all.

To me, thankfulness is the life preserver thrown out to you when you’re drowning in a sea of fear. It is the loud, bold “NO” pushing back on the pressures of a society trying to make you feel like you don’t have enough.

To me, thankfulness is the life preserver thrown out to you when you’re drowning in a sea of fear. 

Thankfulness is the blazing sun giving life to a dying, depressed soul. It is the turning point and the resolution in every best-selling novel.

I could go on and on because that’s how passionate I am about giving thanks. If we’re not making an effort to be thankful, we will be perpetually stuck in a cycle of always wanting more and never feeling satisfied. Sound familiar?

And without being thankful in every circumstance, good or bad, all of our trials, every mountain we’ve had to climb and every storm we’ve had to endure, would be in vain. Your pain would be a waste.

Your pain would be a waste.

But, when you look back on the most challenging times in your life and say, “I’m thankful for that,” your heart begins to change. How? Something or someone that once had the power to steal your happiness and your peace has now become the thing that aides to your emotional and spiritual growth.

Instead of wallowing around in your tears, you’re refusing to stay stuck in the mud by finding the silver lining, no matter how thin it may be, and using that line to pull you out of the mess. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Thankfulness is powerful, y’all.

Don’t get me wrong; while I strongly believe in the power of being thankful, I often abandon it in my every day life. For example, a few weeks ago I had a span of a few ungrateful days. I was in a bad mood that I couldn’t shake, I felt discouraged and nothing seemed to be working out the way that I wanted. I was pretty comfortable in my pity-party.

Then, at the end of the work day, I walked outside.

The soft wind, the perfect temperature, the sun ever-so slightly peering through the gray clouds, and the dancing flowers did something to me.

Call me a hippy, call me crazy, but I believe God sent me that moment. Because when I silently thanked Him for the perfect weather, my mood instantly changed. By the time I got to my car, I realized that an entire three days of being unhappy and frustrated had suddenly shrank into nothing. I can’t even explain how being thankful for something so simple was able to outplay the pile of frustrations I had in my heart, but it did.

If you feel trapped in a funk, if your anxieties are gaining control, and if your list of disappointments is growing by the hour, please take a moment and fight back! Fight back by giving thanks.

It may not feel like something you really want to do in that moment. It may feel a lot like pulling teeth. I get it. But if you’re tired of where you are, please muster up a little strength to dig through your heart in search of true, deep gratitude.

Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.

H.A. Ironside, author and teacher, said, “We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.”

So, when someone asks you what you’re thankful for this year and you’d rather just focus on the turkey and ham, pause before you laugh it off. Consider the seemingly small things you experience every day, and the dauntingly dark days that have shaped who you are. Give it a whirl. Giving thanks is serious business.

Caitlin Jordan is the digital content writer and editor for I Am Second. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram (@caitlinr_jordan).

(Source: Phil Coffman via

(Source: Phil Coffman via

Recently I had to have a hard conversation with a friend.

It was one of those conversations you put off for a long time, thinking you can just ride it out, hoping things will correct on their own. The tension had been building for awhile. Small things, really, but neither of us wanted to bring it up.

I had my list of excuses for not saying anything: There was no point, I told myself. She wasn’t going to be able to hear me. I didn’t really know what I wanted to say.

Not to mention, I was afraid that if I said what I was thinking, I was going to ruin the friendship.

I realized now how unfounded this was.

After all, what kind of friendship is it if we can’t really be honest with each other? On top of that, I wasn’t really giving my friend much credit. Did I really think that, if I was honest about how I felt, the friendship would end?

After all, what kind of friendship is it if we can’t really be honest with each other?

I knew the truth was it probably wouldn’t.

So I met with my friend that next week and talked about how I was feeling.

I went into the conversation nervous, but as soon as I started to share, my nerves calmed. She listened to me so graciously as I shared what I was feeling. I made sure to talk about myself (“When this happens, it makes me feel…), rather than blaming. She apologized for her part in it and then told me how she was feeling, too.

We both took turns listening and apologizing. Whatever tension had been between us melted.

After we talked, I felt so much closer to her.

To be honest, I know it could have easily gone the other way. Sometimes we share our thoughts or feelings with someone and they listen graciously, like my friend did. Other times, we’re met with resistance—defensiveness, anger, blame.

But at least we can see, then, that this is not a right friendship for us.

You can’t really be friends with a person who can’t be honest and listen.

I’ve spent so much of my life settling for acquaintances and calling them friends.

I would avoid being really honest about what I was feeling—either pretending I wasn’t feeling it, or talking myself out of it for some reason, or just stewing about it, without talking.

One thing would usually pile on top of another until I couldn’t take it.

I would explode about it. Or stay quiet. The friendship would inevitably end.

And just like that, my fear that friendships would end would become its own self-fulfilling prophecy.

There’s an epidemic of loneliness in our culture and I think our unwillingness to be honest is causing it. 

As I acted out my fear of losing friends, I would lose them anyway. And usually, I would lose them over something that could be easily avoided—if I had just been willing to be honest much sooner.

There’s an epidemic of loneliness in our culture and I think our unwillingness to be honest is causing it.

So what’s the answer?

I don’t think the answer is to take a guns-blazing, honesty-at-all-costs approach, because I’ve seen this blow up for people and leave them just as frustrated and alone.

I do think the answer is to get really good at being honest andvulnerable.

It doesn’t take much to say, “you can be a real jerk sometimes.” But it takes courage and resilience to say, “when you said that to me, it made me feel insignificant and small.”

Like I said, this is not easy. I’m still learning. But so motivated to keep moving in this direction because the alternative is so much harder—staying lonely, trapped in a world where dozens of people know ofyou but no one really knows you for who you are.

This blog post originally appeared on Storyline and was republished with permission.

On Saturday, Nov. 5, we had an amazing time getting to know you at our Dallas run event. There, we asked you to open up about your story or to take a few words to describe yourself. You responded in a real, raw way. Thank you.

For example, there was Deborah, who told her story of overcoming anorexia earlier this year:

(Source: I Am Second)

(Source: I Am Second)

Val talked about being lost and found:

(Source: I Am Second)

(Source: I Am Second)

And Drea opened up about being clean for two years:

(Source: I Am Second)

(Source: I Am Second)

Check out the slideshow from the entire day below:

(Photo source: Andrew Neel via

(Photo source: Andrew Neel via

This blog post originally appeared on and was republished with permission. 

If you see me in public, hands folded, head down, it doesn’t mean I’m unfriendly. If you approach me, stand a centimeter too close, and I back away slightly, I don’t mean to offend. If I distance myself from the noise or traffic or thick suffocation of a whirring crowd, it has nothing to do with you, I swear. I’ll do my best impression of a mother and wife who has her life together. I’ll run the errands and do the grocery shopping and drive across town, and I’ll do it without so much as a wince. But inside, where the dark, misunderstood parts lurk, I’m screaming so loud, I can be heard shrieking through the heavens.

Diagnosed with a laundry list of depression, OCD, PTSD, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, my tics and rituals worsened, becoming more obvious to those around me. I could hide the fact that I rubbed my knuckles when anxious or scrubbed the counter a minimum of twenty times a day because I did those things in the comfort of my home. But when I walked outside my front door, it was different. Certain sounds, like thunder or someone speaking in a loud voice, made me panic. When confronted with very basic decisions like which cereal to choose, I’d waste so much time wading in indecision that I would miss things happening around me. I had to maintain a strict schedule, which forced me to bail early on plans. I always managed to explain my way out, but every time, I felt bits of me disintegrating into nothing.

These are the things, the lies, I told myself to keep from reaching out.

For the longest time, I hid my anxiety for fear of judgment. Certainly no one would understand how utterly catatonic all the thoughts made me. There was no way anyone could see me as anything more than these disorders once I confessed. These are the things, the lies, I told myself to keep from reaching out. I kept this life secret, these truths hidden, so as not to expose myself even further. I didn’t want everyone thinking things about me, true or not, that changed the way they felt about the person I am. I kept telling myself it would be OK. I could get by pretending I wasn’t dying inside as long as everyone’s opinion of me remained unwavering, no matter the price I’d pay for it.

It wasn’t until I reached a place of reckless freefalling—a place that nearly killed me—that I took the steps necessary to try and reign it all in. This meant recognizing that I couldn’t care about anyone’s opinion of me for one more fleeting moment. I needed help before I fell into a hole I couldn’t climb out of. It was that dire and yet, once I got to this point, I still didn’t grasp the gravity of how far I’d already fallen.

The first step, for me, was realizing all of these things I battle? They don’t define me—just like they don’t define you. You are not your madness, and I am not mine.

We are human. We are flawed. We are learning. We are evolving. And we are broken, illuminating the cracks in order to fit the pieces back together.

We are human. We are flawed. We are learning. We are evolving. And we are broken, illuminating the cracks in order to fit the pieces back together. It’s humbling and humiliating to identify our weaknesses and to work on them day after day. But know this: Pretending everything is calm when a war has broken loose inside you means you’ll never live the life you were meant to live. So tell your truths. Scream them and don’t apologize for what you’re feeling.

You don’t have to hide anymore because you are not your madness. What you are is human.

Candace Ganger is a mother, blogger, contributing writer for sites like XO Jane & Hello Giggles, obsessive marathoner and continual worrier. Her debut YA novel, THE INEVITABLE COLLISION OF BIRDIE & BASH, will be out via St. Martin’s Press (Griffin Teen) Spring/Summer2017.