(Photo source: Denys Nevozhai via Unsplash.com)
(Photo source: Denys Nevozhai via Unsplash.com)

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

Lying between the sheets in a psychiatric hospital, I was forced to ask myself this question:

Why should I keep living?

I could play my cards right and be out of here by tomorrow morning where I would once again, without a doubt, try to end my life. Except this time, there would be no mistakes.

In between the seemingly endless hours of hazy, medicated fog and brief moments of clarity, I would ask myself the same question:

Why should I keep living?

For many months following my stay, I failed to find a satisfactory answer. Nothing fulfilled or replaced the longing to just fall asleep and not wake up again. Nothing. 

No amount of laughter soothed me.

No offering of beautiful, encouraging words could take the place of the ones consistently repeating themselves in my head: I want to die, I want to die, I want to die.

I recoiled from the gentle pats and soft touches because I didn’t want people to waste their energy on me. I thought there was no point.

I thought there was no point.

Any attempt my friends and family made to give me any portion of hope was met with rigid stubbornness; I didn’t want them to talk me out of my ultimate plan. I didn’t want to give them yet another reason to see me as the burden I thought I was.

I was determined to let them reach the inevitable conclusion: I wasn’t worth their time. 

Maybe you’ve felt the sense of hopelessness that I’ve described.

Maybe you’ve felt more lost than even words can explain.

Maybe it’s difficult for you to understand what this type of pain feels like.

But no matter what your experience is, please open up your ears, your mind, and maybe even your heart to hear me out for one small moment:

There are reasons for you to keep living, even when you can’t find them.

Trust me, I know. I know this sounds repetitive; it sounds typical. You’ve heard it before. But hear me out, please:

There are reasons for you to keep living, even when you can’t find them.

I have searched and searched for every reason to NOT believe those words. I’ve scrolled through article after article, blog post after blog post, fooling myself into thinking I was searching for hope, when in reality I was just looking for more excuses to believe those words didn’t apply to me. I wanted confirmation that my sadness was too unreachable, my numbness too untouchable, to be moved by mere words.

But one last time, I’m telling you:

There are reasons for you to keep living, even when you can’t find them. 

Maybe you don’t see what purpose or use you could possibly have on this planet, but don’t you dare believe that just because you can’t see your purpose that it doesn’t exist. Don’t believe the lie that tells you that, because you can’t see it, no one else can either. Your life has meaning. You were not placed here on accident.

Your life has meaning. You were not placed here on accident.

Maybe you’ve never been told that before. Maybe you’ve been told that you could die at any moment, and the world would know no difference. Please let me be the one to tell you how untrue that is. The breath that is inhaled and exhaled through your lungs has value. The words that come out of your mouth are important and heard, even when you don’t think they are.

In all those moments of searching for an answer to the question of why I should keep living, I realized something, something I still have to remind myself of from time to time. In the deepest pits of my illness, I couldn’t provide an answer to that question on my own. I believed too many lies about myself, and I was lost in my own mind. But even in my darkest times, I couldn’t completely reject the idea that maybe the reason that I was still breathing, that I was still alive, was because there was a purpose hidden inside me that was far beyond myself; maybe there was a meaning to my life that I was missing out on.

I realize now that this was the one lingering thought that pushed me to keep living. And as the sun is slowly bringing light into my darkness, as my night gradually turns to morning, the reasons to not keep living are slowly being outnumbered by the ones to stay alive:

My niece’s laugh and the way she says my name.

The way my mom hugs me when she hasn’t seen me for months.

My Grammy’s phone calls.

The breeze that brushes my hair across my face when it’s warm and humid outside.

Christmas trees and big fluffy snowflakes.

Hearing my Papa sing his favorite old hymns.

The peace that rests over me on Sunday mornings.

The people whose lives I hope to impact someday.

The list of reasons continues to grow every day.

The reasons to not keep living are slowly being outnumbered by the ones to stay alive.

So today, no matter how little you think you’ve come in recovery, no matter how many mistakes you’ve made, please know that you would be doing a disservice to this world by taking yourself away from it. Allow yourself the luxury of time.

And believe me when I tell you that there are many, many reasons for you to keep living, even when you find it impossible to find one yourself.

If you’re struggling with thoughts of self-harm, there is hope. You can call 1-800-273-TALK to chat with someone about it. For a list of other resources, visit the website of To Write Love on Her Arms here.

You are not alone. Watch Chad Robichaux’s short White Chair Film to be encouraged:

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