“Hey happy thanksgiving I’m rlly grateful for the friends who stayed by my side during my early college degenerate years. despite it all u remained my friend. When I struggle with sobriety I think about my family and people like you and it helps.”
On November 23, 2017, I received this sweet text from my friend, completely at random but quite sweet nonetheless. However, with Thanksgiving being a day away, I didn’t think anything of it. Rather I wished him the same and presumed we would both go on with our lives. At the time, I didn’t know that my friend was struggling with addiction. I didn’t know at the time that he was fighting an uphill battle with high-functioning depression. I didn’t know at the time that just 31 days later, on Christmas Eve, my friend would take his own life.
I think about this text a lot. Or rather, I think about how I could have responded. I could have asked him about how his semester was going. I could have checked in to see how he was feeling about his recent breakup. I could have opened up the crippling anxiety I was experiencing as I worked to process my fears of life post-grad. I could have told him about the medication I had recently started taking to combat my own depression. I could have, I should have, I wish I would have…
I spent two years rolling through a vicious cycle of “what-ifs.” I channeled my grief and confusion into fighting to eradicate the stigma around mental illness and working towards being some sort of “mental health advocate.” However, I eventually came to realize that my efforts had become a way to mask my own issues. We should all be having authentic conversations about mental health, myself included. Only with open honesty can this illness be de-stigmatized. So to those who are struggling, I encourage you to reach out and share your story. And to those who aren’t yet ready to do so publicly, I’m here to listen and to share my own. ♥
Talk. Share. Help.