”We can find a new hope every new day and every New Year” – Lailah Gifty Akita.
It’s that time where most of you are making those long Facebook statuses about 2016. Yes, it is the day where one year ends and another one begins. Some people even take this as an opportunity to set goals for themselves. Others are just thankful that this year is finally over. This year has been rough for us all in some way. While there were some good things for me in 2016, some things didn’t exactly go my way.
I felt alone at the beginning of 2016. My best friend had moved to Kansas City, my parents were having their own personal struggles, I didn’t particularly have a good relationship with my workplace, and I was severely depressed. Everyone was out of reach, including myself. I wanted this pain to end more than anything else (even if it meant death). This was one of the darkest times in my life.
In order to ease to pain just a little bit, I would go through a carton of smokes in a week. I quit caring about what I ate as well. It felt impossible to feel even a little bit of happiness, so I didn’t want others to be happy. I even tried to get with my sister’s girlfriend at the time (her girlfriend was such a flirt and easy for me to fall for). This was a time where I did a lot of bad things that I still regret.
As winter came to a close, I had finally reached a rock bottom. That girl ended up playing both me and my sister. My relationship with my sister, of course, was not good. There were times where I would take more medication than prescribed. I was sharing a room with my step-brother at the time, who didn’t approve of my living style (rightfully so). People finally started seeing the trouble that I was in and started talking to me. I was broken but eventually decided that I wanted to feel better.
This is when I started talking about my problems rather than hiding them. I was still depressed, but I saw a way out and had to work towards it. I started attending church regularly, visiting my doctor along with counseling, and even volunteered with my free time. Volunteering has helped me a lot; it gives me a feeling of pride and accomplishment. You may know this already, but I found that mental health advocacy is my life purpose.
As a mental health advocate, I have helped plan outreach events, held a fundraiser, helped run a support group on Facebook, and spoken about my story several times. This was, and still is, a way of helping those who are going through what I’ve been through and what I still go through. Becoming a mental health advocate is the best thing I have ever done. Not only have I found a purpose, but I’ve met some of the nicest people and built great bonds with them. I continue to make the world a better place by using my voice.
You may come from a similar place; you may be ending the year on somewhat of a high note, or you may be ending it in darkness. Either way, there is a message I want to leave you with today: never give up! There may be times where it seems like the work you do is pointless, but it’s not. There may be times where it seems like life is not worth living, but it is. Even in this dark time, there is a light to be seen. With the help of each other, we can achieve our dreams.
Rather they be political, physical, mental, or religious, we all have differences. The one thing we all have in common (well most of us) is to find something that makes us happy. Instead of being separated, let’s work together to achieve our common goals. Let’s be there for each other. Let’s show the hopeless that there is hope. Bob Marley once said this: “One love, one heart. Let’s get together and feel all right.” I wish you all a Happy New Year. 2016 may have been rough for a lot of us, but we can make 2017 an opportunity to reconcile ourselves and our relationships with one another.
If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, please call, or have them call, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. You can also go to crisischat.org. If you are not located in the United States, your country’s Suicide Prevention Hotline number may be found at http://www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html.