When I was in high school, the boy I sat next to in math class didn't show up to school one day. He was a shy boy who never looked people in the eye when they spoke to him, but despite his quirks, I found him kind and considered him my friend. I later found out that he committed suicide.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 24- to 35-year-olds. In fact, in the time it took you to read the first part of this article, one person has already committed suicide.
With suicide deaths climbing to an all-time high, I can't help but ask why. In my effort to find more answers, I decided to reflect upon my younger self, the one who several years ago was stuck in life, clinically depressed, addicted to drugs and suffering from eating disorders, the one who would cry herself to sleep every night terrified of waking up from fear that everything would be the same.
I know from personal experience that in a state of fear, hopelessness and regret, hearing someone spout out advice to "think positively" and "focus on what you want" can feel like a foreign language, so telling someone who feels hopeless to reach for the good isn't the answer. The way to fight this epidemic is to come together with connection and love.
The only thing I can offer anyone in a dark place is a letter to my future self — from my younger, more hopeless self. The one who knows exactly what you're going through, the one who held on tight and made it through the darkness to live a life of authentic joy, inner peace and real self-love. It's possible for you to find that same inner peace, so please believe in yourself.
I wrote this letter to myself many years ago when I was diagnosed with depression, coming down from pain pills, and crying hysterically on my bathroom floor.
Dear Future You,
I wonder if you will remember that you used to wake every morning wondering if today will be different? It sometimes feels like I am watching everything from the outside. It feels as if I am breathing, but not really alive. I walk around feeling empty, cold, and numb from the routine of life. Everything seems dark, superficial and completely pointless. My body hurts from these aggressive tears pouring out of me every day. I am looking for a sign, anything to pull me out of this dark wet hole. I am scared. My life feels off track, and I am alone. As desperate as I am, I can sometimes catch a glimmer of hope; I know it is there deep inside of me! I will try to grab hold of that glimmer and that will be my sanity.
Future you, I know that you have a plan for this madness. I trust that you will look back and compassionately say that I did the best I could. Future self, I need guidance, can you please give me words of wisdom to help me pull through this desperate time?
Here's what I would say. Repeat these mantras when you're feeling hopeless:
1. Every day may not be good, but you can look for the good in every day.
2. Take pride in how far you have come, and have faith in how far you will go.
3. You are learning how to trust your heart; it knows the way, always listen to it.
4. Do what you can where you are, and with what you have.
5. Face your troubles with courage; you are so much stronger than you give yourself credit for.
6. Trust your struggle.
7. You can only leave where you are when you decide where you would rather be. Now is the time to get clear.
8. This too shall pass.
9. Be patient; one day this pain will make sense to you.
10. Worry ends where faith begins.
Remember, you are not alone ever. If you feel hopeless, or lost in your own life reach out to a friend, because you are dearly loved and the world needs you just as you are. Don't give up; it gets better. I promise.
Establishing a regular meditation practice can drastically improve your health, and so can choosing the right foods. Ready to learn more about the power of food? Register now for our FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar with Kelly LeVeque.