To Anyone With Depression Who Has Been Told ‘It Gets Better’
My wedding day was full of beautiful moments. I wanted to stop and take in every second of every single one — every face, every sound, every song, every part of the day. It was by far the happiest day of my life, and it was a moment of redemption after a long, long year of struggle with my mental health.
There was one particular moment on my wedding day where I looked around at all the people gathered to celebrate us and was awestruck. Some of these people know the struggles I have faced over the last year, many did not, but the sting of me deciding this moment was not worth fighting for would have been felt by them all. I sat at the front of the reception looking over all of the guests with my new husband next to me, my little 5-year-old flower girl cuddled up on my lap with giant smiles on our faces, and I couldn’t help but think, “What if I had missed this?” After being told all year that it would get better, I could finally breath in a moment of “better.”
I have a complicated relationship with the platitude “It gets better.” It is given out as a promise to those struggling. It’s all over awareness posts about mental illness and suicide prevention. The sentiment behind this, that it won’t always be this bad, is true and well-meaning, but like many things in life, many mental illnesses get better and then worse again and then better, and could follow a cycle like this for a lifetime. Some people find success and never return to the darkest spot they’ve ever been. Others recover for a time and may delve into an even deeper form of their particular illness. Sometimes it feels like there’s no rhyme or reason to it. I’ve seen people I love struggle intensely on and off for years and years.
I struggle to say “it gets better,” not because I don’t believe it, but because it’s more complicated than that. There have been many times of “better” for me, but they were laced into many low, dark, hellish points in the last year. I want to say that life is always worth fighting for because it is, but I can’t promise a “better” that always lasts. I can, without a doubt, promise you moments of “better.” Moments that are worth the fight. Moments that take your breath away and make you eternally grateful you still have breath to breathe. Moments you want to pause and squeeze every last second out of. Moments where you stop, look around and think to yourself, “I’m so glad I fought. I’m so glad I’m still here.”
There will be sunsets to watch, ice cream cones to eat, newborn babies to hold, first kisses, graduations and weddings to attend, dream jobs to apply for, coffee dates, dogs to pet, people to fall in love with and countless other small moments in which your presence will be sorely missed and thoroughly mourned if you decide to stop fighting. While there may be moments of intense darkness, confusion, relapses, depression and fading hope in between, I promise you the moments of “better” will come, and I promise they are worth it.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.
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Thinkstock photo via David De Lossy.