A list of songs that have helped people struggling with anxiety and depression at night.

Read the full version of 30 Songs That Have Helped People With Anxiety and Depression at Night.

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13 Songs That Have Helped People With Anxiety and Depression at Night

“Guns for Hands” Twenty One Pilots

“We’ve turned our hands to guns, trade in our thumbs for ammunition. I must forewarn you, of my disorder, or my condition. ‘Cause when the sun sets…”

“21 Guns” Green Day

“And your thoughts have taken their toll. When your mind breaks the spirit of your soul.”

“Praying” Kesha

“No more monsters, I can breathe again.”

“Skyscraper” Demi Lovato

“Do you have to make me feel like there’s nothing left of me?”

“Breaking the Habit” Linkin Park

“I don’t want to be the one the battles always choose ’cause inside I realize that I’m the one confused.”

“Demons” Imagine Dragons

“It’s dark inside. It’s where my demons hide. It’s where my demons hide.”

“Superheroes” The Script

“Now she’s stronger than you know. A heart of steel starts to grow.”

“Under the Bridge” Red Hot Chili Peppers

“Sometimes I feel like my only friend is the city I live in…”

“Breathe Me” Sia

“I have been here many times before.”

“Try” Colbie Caillat

“When you’re all alone, by yourself, do you like you? Do you like you?”

“Days Like This” Van Morrison

“Well it’s not always raining there’ll be days like this. When there’s no one complaining there’ll be days like this.”

“Oh My Soul” Casting Crowns

“…no one would blame you, though. If you cried in private. If you tried to hide it away…”

“Reflection” Tool

“So crucify the ego, before it’s far too late. To leave behind this place so negative and blind and cynical…”


Starting college is both an exciting and challenging experience, so it’s normal to feel apprehensive about what “college life” will have in store. If you’re someone living with a mental illness, this transition can feel daunting. Not only are you starting a new journey, but you might need extra help and adjustments “typical” students don’t need to think about. And that is totally OK. There’s no “right” way to do college, and although it can be challenging, it’s not impossible to make it through.

Because you’re not alone in this, we asked some people in our mental health community what tips they would give a student entering college with a mental illness — and added some of our own.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you walk on campus this fall.

1. Calendars and To-Do Lists Are Your Friends

You already have so much going on in your head, when the assignments start pouring in, you’ll thank yourself later for getting everything you can down on paper (or your laptop, or an audio recording… whatever works for you). This way, if depression makes you a little forgetful, or if anxiety makes it hard to focus, you’ll have something to keep you on task. Also, to-do lists can inspire a sense of accomplishment. Celebrate crossing off even the smallest tasks. Keeping this perspective can help your mental health overall, and will hopefully prevent you from feeling so overwhelmed.

“Make yourself a list of what you need to accomplish each week. Even if it’s something small. That way the semester won’t look so daunting.” — Kaitlyn C.

“Don’t look at the whole staircase! Focus on the small steps that get you to the top! I struggled with severe OCD in college due to the overwhelming stress of looking at the whole picture. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until my current full-time job that I finally figured out my mantra, ‘One step at a time.’ Only focus on that day, that moment! That’s all you have to get through!” — Krissy M.

“College is conquerable. One life hack is to focus on one task at a time after you made sure you’re ready to face it. I just graduated from college and this life hack got me through it.” — Ellain G.

We recommend: These planners for keeping your life — and health — organized. 

2. Keep Track of Appointments and Your Medication

While organizing your school work, don’t forget to make time for your health. If you took medication or went to therapy before entering college, keep it up. Don’t forget to factor those things into your schedule. It doesn’t matter how organized your school work is if your mental health isn’t being managed.

Don’t quit your medication. If it’s not helping, talk to your doctor and get on a new one. Don’t overload yourself. Make sure you communicate what’s going on with your professors — they’ll be more understanding than you think.” — Di P. 

“Reach out for any and all available help. Extra time, therapy offered to students, etc. Whatever is offered use it. It will help you manage life with mental illness and college.” — Katie B.

We recommend: Medisafe Pill Reminder & Medication Tracker app (free), Round Health app (free), PillBox from Schizophrenic.NYC ($12), or find a cute pill box you won’t mind pulling out in class on Etsy.

3. Keep Track of Your Mood

In the whirlwind of classes and extracurriculars, slow down and pay attention to how you’re doing every once in a while. Whether this means tracking your mood in a more formal way or just journaling every once in a while to get your thoughts out, take a moment, whether it be daily or weekly, to check in with yourself. If something’s off, don’t ignore it — catching something early can make all the difference.

We recommend: iMoodJournal app ($1.99), Moods app (free), or check out these creative ways to track your moods.

4. It’s Cool to Go to the Counseling Center

Don’t be afraid to take advantage of your school’s counseling center. It’s a free service that’s provided for you because you’re a student, and this support can help. If you’re someone who lives with a mental illness, it’s also important for the counseling staff to know who you are in case there’s a crisis.

“See campus counseling or health services asap, if only to get your illness in writing. This will give a basis later on if your school offers learning assistance. Also, develop a suicide crisis plan now. When a counselor is debating whether to send you to the hospital, having alternate options is good for you both. Also, try to find which hospital is good in the area and has a psych ward, in case you have to go.” — Kirstie C.

5. Don’t Make Mental Illness Your Dirty, Little Secret

If there’s one thing that mental illness can feed on, it’s secrecy. While it can be hard to know when, where and how to open up to people about living with a mental illness, don’t let shame keep you in hiding. Sure, it doesn’t have to be the first thing you tell your freshman roommate, but when you can, build a support system who knows your truth. This means friends, but also advisors and professors who can support you on your journey. Having people know what you’re dealing with can help you stay accountable, and also means you’ll have a support system to lean on if times get tough.

“Don’t hide it. I’ve found my college friends are way more accepting and willing to help me out than any high school ones were. This goes the same for the professors. If you explain to them what’s going on I’ve found they are a lot more willing to help and make accommodations than if you were to try and struggle through it.” — Marissa M.

“Don’t be afraid to open up to your friends or professors. I know it’s hard, the anxiety will eat you. But when you overcome the struggle, it’s much of a relief and self-help. Step back and breathe when you’re not feeling well or the attacks are there. Help yourself first by trying to gather all your senses. Again, I know it’s hard but you gotta try to help yourself and try not to be afraid asking for help from other people.” — Kristel F.

6. Have a Social Life, but Don’t Prioritize It Over Your Mental Health

As much as you learn and grow in college, it can also be a time to explore drinking and partying. There might be pressure to jump into this scene, but you get to decide what’s right for you. Don’t deprive yourself of having a good time, but make sure this “good time” doesn’t mean sacrificing your mental health. Try to find people who will respect when you need to take it easy and who won’t pressure you to do something you know isn’t good for you.

“Choose friends who will invite you out and encourage healthy sociability, but who won’t pressure you to go out late at night when you need to keep a steady sleep schedule or stay sober in order to attain or maintain balance. People who respect the days when you ‘just can’t’ and encourage you to take care of yourself are more valuable than the ‘typical college experience’ of not sleeping, cramming, and wrecking your body/mind with substances to help dull the anxiety.” — Mary M.

7. Join Clubs on Campus (Mental Health-Related or Not)

What do you love to do? Chances are, there’s a student group for that. Whether it’s a political group, religious group or just a hobby that makes you happy, joining clubs and extracurriculars can give you something to look forward to outside your classes. Plus, they’re a great way to make friends. If you’re having trouble “finding your tribe,” joining a mental health-conscious group is an easy way to find people you might be able to connect with.

We recommend: Active Minds, Project Heal, National Alliance on Mental Illness

8. Get Support During Class

If you know your mental health challenges will affect your school work — or even if you just want a little extra support — you have the right to get accommodations through your university’s disability center. Don’t wait until you’re struggling to reach out. See if you can get an appointment early in the semester to see what support services are available.

“Reach out to your disability resources on campus! Many times they can help you receive academic accommodations, get counseling, academic advising/study tutors and help you get set up with a psychiatrist, especially if medication is needed.” — Zainab S.

“Most colleges have a disability office. I get accommodations because of my borderline. I get extended time on assignments, breaks in class, bi-weekly meetings with my instructors, private reduced distraction testing room, etc. I never thought I’d get an approved accommodation but if you have a legit issue and it effects your school stuff, they have to honor it and help keep you on an even playing field with the other students.” — Nicole P.

Other ideas from our community for in-class survival:

“If you have big lecture classes get there early enough (if you can) and find a seat on the edge. That way if you need a moment to breath you can step out [without] disturbing anyone and no one will even notice what you’re doing. — Meg W.

“Have a notepad for just doodling and writing whatever comes to mind. Colored pencils make it more enjoyable. Do things your way and let people know. It helps a lot. Professors are pretty understanding if you talk to them!” — Alexandria V.

“Do not be afraid to email your professors that you need a mental health day. I felt like I was being silly to say I wasn’t coming to class because I was too depressed and anxious to get out of bed. But once I sat down and talked to them about it they were very understanding about it. The worst that can happen is they react in a rude way, but those good ones who are understanding are the best.” — Jordan L.

“Make at least one friend in each class. This way the two of you can share notes if things are missed, study together for exams and even just discuss class and the notes.” — Danica F.

“I am a paralegal major and am going to use my degree to help victims of domestic abuse and violence. If need be, I can excuse myself if I feel triggered by a discussion in class. I also have an accommodation that allows me to use a special pen and notebook. The pen has a mic in it that records the lecture, and a camera in it that allows you to touch anywhere in the notes and begin to replay the lecture at the point that you wrote it. The equipment is financial aid approved here so don’t let the price scare you.” — Danica F.

9. If You Need to Drop a Class…

With some exceptions, you largely get to choose your schedule in college. If you find yourself with a course load that’s too heavy, don’t wait until everything falls apart — make an appointment with your advisor or someone who can help you prioritize your classes. It can be temping to overload yourself in the beginning of college, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you have to drop a class. It’s better than setting yourself up for failure.

“Dropping a class or two isn’t the end of the world if it means you’ll do better in the rest of them. Also, pick and choose what homework is most important. Some assignments are not worth stressing over.” — Aaron O.

“Take classes at your own pace. Just cause everyone else seems to be taking full-time classes doesn’t mean you have too. Your mental health comes first. Also take each day one day at a time sometimes even one hour at a time. It’s going to be ok be you can do this! Good luck!” — Tara R.

10. If You Need to Take Some Time Off…

It’s not something you have to think about right now, but if you’re ever in a position where you need to take some time off of school because of your mental health, we want you to know that’s OK. There’s a lot of pressure to be on the same path as everyone else, but everyone’s journey is different — and different is not wrong. You’re not a failure for needing to take a break from school.

“Taking a medical withdrawal doesn’t mean you will never finish college. Take the time to focus on your mental health and come back when you’re feeling better. Taking more than four years to finish a degree is more common than you think.” — Morgan M.

We recommend: Fountain House College Re-entry is a great program that helps students with mental illnesses transition back to school.

11. If You Need to Do School Differently…

There are options if you don’t think a traditional school setting is right for you. Honor your needs and explore them if you begin to struggle.

I earned my bachelor’s at a traditional state school, but am working on my Master’s at an online college. I’m glad for my time at a brick and mortar school, but it’s actually been really helpful to have the flexibility of an online college. It does require a lot of disciple and self-accountability, but it’s also really nice to be able to work on school whenever you feel like it, especially on those ‘I truly cannot make it out bed’ days.” — Kayla S.

“Going straight to college after high school wasn’t the decision for me. I had to drop out because of my symptoms. I’ve worked on my degree for 11 years, part-time while maintaining work. I will graduate in December! Wait until you’re ready to start or go back. Don’t feel pressure by some four-year timeline. It’s OK to go your own path.” — Phoebe G.

“It’s OK to do part-time school. Do what you can handle.” — Brooke A.

12. And Finally, Some Reminders to Hang in Your Dorm Room

“Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be our best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth; it’s a shield.” –Brené Brown

“I truly believe that everything that we do and everyone that we meet is put in our path for a purpose. There are no accidents; we’re all teachers – if we’re willing to pay attention to the lessons we learn, trust our positive instincts and not be afraid to take risks or wait for some miracle to come knocking at our door.” — Marla Gibbs

“If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress.” — Barak Obama

“You are more than what you do, produce, or achieve. Don’t believe for a second that your output and your income dictate your worth. They don’t.” — Lori Deschene

Anything we missed? Tell us in the comments what you would tell students starting college with a mental illness.

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.

Thinkstock photo via Wavebreakmedia Ltd

Mental illnesses are often referred to as “invisible illnesses,” which is what can make them so challenging to understand and talk about. It’s easy for people to assume what you’re going through is “all in your head” when it seemingly only affects your mood and emotions.

But the truth is, mental illnesses can manifest physically, too. That’s why we asked our Mighty mental health community to tell us some surprising physical symptoms they experience because of mental illness. Because by talking about all aspects of mental illness, we can continue to break the stigma and misunderstanding that surrounds mental health.

Here is what they had to say:

1. “Constant tension to the point where I don’t realize it and to me, it becomes natural. Only recently have I realized that my body automatically tenses up no matter what I’m doing, even if it’s just laying down. I really have to focus to relax my body. It amazes me because like I said, it’s just become natural to me.” — Mary Catherine K.

2. “Grinding my teeth to the point where my teeth hurt daily and I have had teeth out because of my anxiety.” — Susie S.

3. “A sore throat. I know I’m getting run down with stress and making myself ill when I keep getting sore throats or a sore throat I can’t get rid off. I usually pick up on it because I don’t actually have a cold or any other cold symptoms.” — Amy W.

4. “My anxiety causes my body to swell like a balloon. Whenever I have an anxiety attack, my eyes swell shut, my lips swell, as well as my hands and legs. Sometimes I swell so bad I get migraines from the pressure and I can’t walk.” — Emally B.

5. “Uncontrollable sweating, especially at night. I regularly wake up soaking.” — Charli B.

6. “Yawning. When anxiety gets bad and is bordering on panic, I yawn a lot.” — Kelly V.

7. “I get this terrible build up of energy throughout my entire body in moments of extreme uncomfortable irritability. It’s extremely uncomfortable and typically results in me compulsively clenching my fists or smacking myself until the moment is gone. It’s kind of like trying to sneeze, but you can’t. Except it’s your entire body. It’s awful.” — Elizabeth T.

8. “Fatigue. I never realized how fatigued my body could feel. It’s like walking around with weights all over my body on my rough days. Even when my mind is more clear or more awake, my body drags me back down.” — Sarah D.

9. “Stomach problems. I’ll feel nauseous, have irregular bowel movements, random stomach pains, I’ll be hungry almost immediately after I’ve eaten or not feel hungry at all.” — Matthew Z.

10. “My inability to react to stimulus on any level. Even if it is good news it would seem as if I didn’t care.” — Erik H.

11. “The tiredness. The constant lack of energy and nothing seems worthwhile anymore. It makes me start to wonder why I bother, like everything is just a waste of time and takes up so much energy. It completely changes the way I think about things.” — Katrina S.

12. “Horrible rashes on my neck, arms and legs that look like heat rash. It gets so bad it turns into open sores.” — Larissa M.

13. “Severe twitches. Especially in the hands, arms, head and neck.” — Angelique B.

14. “My eyes can’t focus ‘normally,’ they will look at lights or odd things like the wispy bits of hair above someone head and not on their eyes for example.” — Emily M.

15. “The sharp stomach pains mixed with cold sweats, headaches and very high fatigue to the point where it hurts to move. I also get negative thoughts and just get the urge to sleep and stay in my room either sleeping or listening to music while curled up petting my dog.” — Breeana Garza

16. “I have these permanent eye bags no matter how much or how little I sleep, an ache in my neck and tense shoulders, breakouts and most of the time when I blink, one of my eyes feels glued shut and I have a difficult time opening it.” — Sithary Y.

17. “Nonstop heart palpitation for a couple of hours, stomach problems, hyperventilation, inability to focus, fatigue, hands and legs cant stop shaking, the feeling of ‘you just needed to cry out loud with no apparent reason.’” — Priscilla S.

18. “I get really hot and start sweating when my anxiety is high. My friend and I joke that it’s like I’m having hot flashes. However, at the time it’s happening, it’s not too funny. I also have stomach cramping and often fell like throwing up when I’m having prolonged anxiety attacks.” — Lindsay P.

19. “My mind is full of things I need to do or should do, but physically, my body just can’t do it. Even sorting through my mind of what’s a priority or something simple, yet my body physically just can’t get moving to do anything.” — Michael T.

20. “It sounds weird, but my doctor has told me my anxiety and Aspergers apparently heighten my sensitivity a lot, which means I can’t even be brushed or lightly touched without being tickled. And I also can’t stand handling certain textures, like cotton balls.” — Keegan L.

21. “Long term dizzy spells that last for weeks up to a couple of months to the point where I get stuck homebound because I can’t drive or work.“ — Erica D.

22. “I have a type of eczema on my hands caused by anxiety. Every time I get anxious my hands flare up with little itchy water blisters that turn into open sores.” — Kalie C.

23. “I lose feeling in my feet and hands — they go extremely tingly and then numb — along with my stomach, it drops and then goes numb and my whole body tingles. I get migraines that last for days and diarrhea.” — Kaela W.

24. “After hospitalizations I experience phantom smells. I thought I had ruined my room because it smelled so bad. I would sit far away in public.” — Gary C.

Can you relate?

Thinkstock photo via Grandfailure

I believe there’s no better shield against loneliness and isolation than marriage, and mentally healthy couples enjoy better marriages. Research shows married couples have fewer mental health issues, including anxiety and depression, and enjoy overall good health.

But sometimes, we can encounter issues that challenge the state of our mental health: the loss of a loved one, a change in jobs or a household move, the stress of childrearing… all of these can affect our mental well-being, and sometimes our marriage.

How can you ensure a solid, long-lasting marriage while dealing with mental health issues?

1. Don’t try to do it alone.

Many people striving to reclaim sound mental health try to do so on their own. With growing multitude of online, print and real-life support resources, it doesn’t make sense to fight this battle alone. Facing a mental health challenge is nothing to be ashamed of, and opening up to your spouse about your situation can help bring you both closer. It demonstrates that you trust your partner enough to confide in them, and good marriages are built on trust. Don’t hesitate to put words to whatever it is that is causing you mental duress. Let your partner help support you. You may even find that they are feeling the same way! You can find support groups, a wealth of articles and helpful tools and tips, all a mere click away on the net. It’s never been easier to find help.

2. Don’t make your partner your therapist.

While your partner can be part of your mental health support network, it is not appropriate for them to be a sole source of support. Be sure to reach out to a qualified, trained therapist who has the expertise to help you find the right solutions for your situation.

You may want to bring your partner to your sessions. Ask your therapist if it would be valuable to have your partner attend one or more of your therapy sessions with you. This would certainly be something to explore if part of your mental health struggles are linked with something occurring in the marriage.

3. Be authentically you.

It is hard to strive towards sound mental health if you are consumed with presenting an image that is not honest. The real you is valuable, and your partner (and others) deserve to see who that person is, flaws and all. No one expects you to be perfect, and trying to have the “perfect, Pinterest-worthy” life is exhausting. Be yourself, and be loved for that self. It is more than enough.

4. Follow good health guidelines.

To reclaim and maintain sound mental health, make sure you, with the help of your therapist, devise a set of good health guidelines. Write these out as a checklist, and review this each day, making sure you address each point. Some standard suggestions might include enough sleep, a well-balanced diet that includes more fresh fruits and vegetables and less refined sugar and alcohol, some “me” time devoted to meditation or just focusing on your breathing, and reaching out to your community.

5. Work your guidelines at your own pace.

We have a tendency to compare ourselves with others in similar situations. This is not helpful, however, as everyone moves towards sound mental health at their own pace. Comparison is the thief of joy, so let go of this urge. The only person you need to compare yourself with is yourself. Are you feeling better today than you were yesterday? Are you abiding by your good health guidelines? Are you interacting with those in your community? If you feel that some days you are falling short of these goals, let yourself have a rest day. There will be days where you will need to coast, and that is OK. You cannot make forward movement without stopping sometimes to recharge. You’ll be back on track tomorrow.

6. Keep your marriage at the forefront.

I believe a good marriage is the backbone of sound mental health. Pay attention to cultivating and tending to the state of your relationship as a couple. A happy home transfers its joy to each person in that home — it’s a virtuous cycle. Knowing you have a strong marriage can sometimes be the key to weathering the hard times and getting back to sound mental health quickly.

When you are back in your game, make sound mental health a priority. You have gone through a difficult passage but are now back to being the happy, joyous you. To keep things on an even keel, remember to follow your good health guidelines each and every day. Don’t neglect to check in from time to time with your therapist as needed so that you stay happy, mentally healthy and strong.

Sylvia Smith is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via MarinaMariya.

Editor’s Note: The following piece contains spoilers for the “Harry Potter” series and “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.”

I wrote recently about how fantasy and books saved my life, and they really truly did. The fantasy world gave me the one thing that I struggled to hold on to: hope.

As a younger child, “Matilda” by Roald Dahl was definitely one of those books. However, at a relatively late age of 18, I discovered another world. Another world that carried me through my 20s — a world where there was a “boy who lived.”

Harry Potter.

That name alone is enough to induce tears, a mixture of joy, fear and great sorrow in me. I was lucky enough to get to see “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” last night. As much as this article has been on the tip of my tongue for over half a year, I feel compelled to write it today, while the emotion is still raw.

From the first chapter of the first “Harry Potter” novel, I understood Harry, and believe Harry understood me. Living with childhood abuse, it was clear that he felt the great sorrow I did. There are obviously many differences between our stories — for starters, I’m not a wizard, despite how much I wish I was! However, he was a boy, who seemed to have lost hope, and I was a girl who had lost hope. Then, on his 11th birthday, hope arrived. Maybe, I thought, hope would arrive at my door one day, too.

A boy, who had been treated so disgustingly, was loved from the moment he walked into Hogwarts — though not by everybody (that’s been helpful for me too – nobody can be liked by everybody). Harry found the love he so longed for — he found his family. People who loved him, flaws and all. And yes, he did have flaws, as did the other greats in Harry Potter – after all, how can we be human if we do not have flaws? One of the scenes in “The Cursed Child” that made me cry, was when Harry turns to his son and says, “They were great men with huge flaws, and you know what? Those flaws almost made them greater.”

I silently sobbed, the longing and sorrow, the pain… the realization that perhaps my flaws aren’t my downfall after all. I also felt joy and relief, as I also know I do have people in my life that love me, in spite of my flaws, who have stood by my side as I have become “The girl who lived.”

Like Harry, I have fought great, great darkness in my life. A defining moment in reading the “Harry Potter” series was when J. K. Rowling described the Dementors.

“Dementors are among the foulest creatures that walk this earth. They infest the darkest, filthiest places, they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope and happiness out of the air around them. Even Muggles feel their presence, though they can’t see them. Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. If it can, the Dementor will feed on you long enough to reduce you to something like itself — soulless and evil. You’ll be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.”

How did J. K. Rowling get this so right? It took many years before I realized she too battled with mental illness, she too has lived with suicidal thoughts. Her words have not only been a comfort, but an inspiration to me.

Little did she realize that she also tapped into my life with Lord Voldemort too — “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” — the darkest force possible, so dark that he must not be spoken of. This echoed the abuse I lived through as a child, the abuse that must never be spoken of. The abuse I have still apparently “fabricated” or “over-exaggerated.” Harry Potter gave me the strength to carry on fighting that dark force, to persevere, to never give up, to hold on… always.

I once believed I too must be a dark force, in fact, some days, I still believe this. But now I choose to fight back at those thoughts by remembering Dumbledore’s words: “It is not our abilities that show what we truly are. It is our choices.” I chose, and still choose not to become a dark force. I strive to make a difference in this world, to reduce the darkness, even for just one person to feel less alone having read my words. This is a power J. K. Rowling has. For me to even have one percent of her ability, is enough, enough for me to carry on, carrying on.

Dumbledore so very much reminded me of my grandfather, both my grandfather and grandmother were the only people in my life I knew were truly proud of me, growing up. When my grandfather died, so did a part of me. A part I’ll never get back. It made me so ill mentally, but I didn’t know why, my brain didn’t have the ability to process any of this until almost a decade later. But I shall never forget the tears I shed when Dumbledore died. Overwhelming grief, so painful I couldn’t breathe. Thinking about it now: I cannot breathe. Dumbledore, to Harry, was what my grandfather was to me.

And, as my tears fall, I know he would still be proud of me. I hope he would understand my need to have no contact with my parents. The guilt I carry consumes me, but this is the only way for me to be and stay mentally healthy.

“Dark times lie ahead of us and there will be a time when we must choose between what is easy and what is right” — Albus Dumbledore

The no contact decision was not easy, but it is right — for me, my wholeness, my health and for my children to have the best mum they can — to have everything I didn’t.

Notice I used the word “wholeness” as opposed to happiness. So many people in this world strive to be happy — but I believe it is impossible to be happy, and happy alone. I’ve been through enough to know pain will always exist. Rowling just “gets it” — maybe you can only truly “get it” if you have been through great adversity yourself? I haven’t quite worked that one out yet. But, once again, Dumbledore put this into perspective for me last night:

“Harry, there is never a perfect answer in this messy, emotional world. Perfection is beyond the reach of humankind, beyond the reach of magic. In every shining moment of happiness is that drop of poison: the knowledge that pain will come again. Be honest to those you love, show your pain. To suffer is as human as to breathe.”

How more right could that paragraph be? “In every shining moment of happiness is that drop of poison: the knowledge that pain will come again.” I know that some may exclaim how negative both Rowling and I are, but I would exclaim back, that perhaps they had never known the true meaning of struggling. I am an extremely positive person, but part of my remaining so positive through living with mental illness and hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome has been to become whole. To have days where I down all tools and cry out all the pain, to really feel the darkness. And yes, there have been times I have gotten stuck in the darkness, unable to find the light. But through it all, inside of me, there has been a tiny spark of hope, even if it had almost been extinguished.

Last night, when I saw Snape produce his Patronus on stage, the tears welled up again. I had a mental breakdown earlier this year. I had to fight to stay alive, day after day. At one point, I changed my profile picture on Facebook to an “Expecto Patronum” picture, trying so desperately to conjure my spirit guardian. During this time, I saw a painting an online friend had created — an elephant on galaxy background. I told her if she had swapped the elephant to a unicorn, she literally had created the Patronus in my mind.

Several days later, I was tagged in a photo on Instagram of my Patronus. I sobbed. My Patronus had appeared. I have never met this friend in real life, but she seemed to understand how much I needed that Patronus. She posted the painting for me. I have a feeling she knows how much that painting meant/means to me, in such a way I wished she didn’t. This is an open, very public thank you to you my friend, you know who you are. Thank you for conjuring my Patronus for me, thank you for not letting my spark extinguish. (She kindly gave me permission to share a picture of my painting. You can find her here.

In one of the final scenes of “Cursed Child,” I cried when Harry told Albus:

“The part of me that was Voldemort died a long time ago, but it wasn’t enough to be physically rid of him — I had to be mentally rid of him too. And that – is a lot to learn for a 40-year-old man.”

These few sentences summed up the journey I have been on this year. The darkness inside of me — I had physically tried to get rid of, but I had to mentally get rid of it too. I had to let go. Letting go doesn’t mean the pain or darkness is no longer there, it just means it no longer has a hold over me. It means I have finally learned, or am learning (it’s a definite process!) to be whole. A lot to learn for a 34-year-old woman.

I never expected to cry so much while watching this theatre production, but it was perfect and for me, so very much needed.

I could go on forever talking about this subject, and maybe I’ll revisit it one day. But for now, I’d like to leave a message for J. K. Rowling – one that she will probably never read – but that doesn’t matter. That is not why I’ve written this.

J. K. Rowling, “One person. All it takes is one person.”

Thank you, from the bottom of my fragile heart, thank you for being that one person. Thank you for giving me hope. Thank you for helping me hold on. Thank you for giving me a Patronus, a spirit guardian. Without you, and your words, I may not have held on, thank you for putting the color back into my life. Thank you for creating a world I can now enjoy with my own children — knowing, hopefully, that although of course they will know darkness in their lives, that it should never be as deep as mine or Harry’s. Thank you for their happiness and joy, the exclamations as they watched the first film will never leave me — those memories of my girls help my Patronus to stay strong. Thank you for helping me make the right choices. Thank you for helping me become “the girl who lived.”

J. K. Rowling – you are my hero. Always <3

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 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Photos via contributor.

In the past year, I’ve admitted myself to a psychiatric hospital three times. You read that right. Not once, not twice, but on three different occasions.

Now when I tell people this, I usually get the same kind of response. People will look at me, amazed, as if they can’t believe what I’m saying. They will look at me in awe or in admiration or sometimes both. They will say things like, “Wow, that was so brave of you,” and, “I can’t believe how strong you are: I’m so proud of you.” They will tell me I made the right choice hands down, no hesitation or questions asked. They will tell me they are glad I was able to keep myself safe, and aren’t I mature for my age?

They will send me the following message: you made the right choice, and you should be proud of yourself.

But here’s the thing: going to the hospital wasn’t some kind of stellar achievement or outstanding accomplishment, and it certainly didn’t feel like pride or delight. In fact, it felt like failure and self-hate.

When I stepped into that ER, I have never hated myself so much.

I hated myself for feeling weak, for needing help.

I hated the idea of being certified under the mental health act, of losing my rights and personal agency.

I hated the fact that deep down, I knew the hospital is where I needed to be.

You see, everyone says what I did was brave — that I made some kind of noble decision. The right call, the mature choice. But I want to clarify that it wasn’t an ultimate act of self-love; it wasn’t about, “I love myself so much I’m going to save my own life and go to the hospital.” It was more along the lines of, “If this doesn’t save me, I don’t know what will.”

The first time I was certified, I was admitted to the Psychiatric Assessment Unit located at Vancouver General Hospital. That night, doctor after doctor confirmed what I feared most, and assured me that yes, I absolutely needed to be hospitalized.

I did not believe a single one of them.

One psychiatrist, Dr. T., told me that hospitals were busy places, and beds were very limited. She said they wouldn’t keep me in the hospital if I didn’t need to be there, and she told me she couldn’t let me leave because I was considered a danger to myself.

I yelled at her.

And when she asked me where all this anger was coming from, and whom it was directed to, I realized I was beyond pissed at myself.

I told her I was angry with myself because I was the one who checked myself in, and could I have not been more stupid? I told her it was all my fault, that I had nobody to blame but myself, and “I cannot believe I put myself in this situation.”

I told her: “I don’t belong here I don’t belong here I don’t belong here I don’t even deserve to be here, I made a mistake!”

She told me I had made the right choice. She told me she was glad I was here. And she told me things would get better, that the suffering would pass.

At the time, I didn’t feel as though I deserved to feel better, so when I reached out for help, I felt worse about myself.

That weekend in the PAU, I asked myself, “How did I end up here? How did things get so bad?”

When my friend Emily visited, I told her that going to the hospital was like giving up, like throwing my hands up in the air and saying, that’s it, I quit. I told her only weak people admitted themselves, and my choice meant I wasn’t strong or good enough. I told her going to the hospital was like cheating, like taking the easy way out.

She asked me, “But has any of this been easy?”

Slowly, in the following days, I realized I had made the best decision of my life by going to the hospital, and I just wasn’t ready to admit it aloud.

It’s been almost three months since my last admission, and today, I’m able to reflect on my choices and see them clearly. Yes, I checked myself into the hospital, but not because I wanted to — because I needed to.

I did it, over and over again, aware of what was at stake.

I didn’t feel brave or empowered. I felt angry and afraid. I gave up my personal agency in the name of my physical safety, and that was a pretty bold move.

If there’s one thing I want you to remember after reading this piece, it’s that checking myself into the hospital was the most difficult decision of my life. It meant admitting I was vulnerable and on my knees, desperate for anybody to help me. It wasn’t an easy choice to make. It was fucking hard to step into that hospital that first night, and even harder the second and third time around because of feelings of shame.

Lastly, I want to point out that unlike what some people might believe, the reality is: a psychiatric admission is no fucking picnic. It’s not a vacation and definitely should not be viewed as such. Hospital stays are not the equivalent of taking a break from life.

Some people have questioned my motives and reasons for showing up, including doctors. What, did they think I just showed up for the hell of it, for fun? Like, who wants to go through that process?

To clarify, all I have to say is this: showing up was one of the hardest decisions of my life. It meant giving up so much; my rights, my freedom, my agency. It meant showing vulnerability, and it meant facing uncertainty.

And yes, I was aware of the consequences.

I knew going into the hospital meant having to confront my parents and I feared disappointing them, as well as my psychiatrist. I knew going into the hospital meant I’d feel like a failure and it’d disrupt my daily routine and I could even maybe lose my job. Because I was aware of the way the whole process is designed, I knew being admitted meant I’d have to deal with even more psychological distress. I knew a hospital stay equaled more financial issues and it meant taking another break from school, which broke my heart.

Going to the hospital was not something I wanted to do. It was not an easy decision for me to make. I did not show up at the ER because I had a headache. I showed up because I was at risk of harming myself, and not going could have cost me my life.

Some days, I wonder if going to the hospital was even a choice.

Sometimes, I wonder if my illness chose to kill me, and my body stepped in and said, no way.

Sometimes, I think my survival instinct kicked in, and those steps leading to the hospital building were my body’s way of telling me, “It’s not over, it’s gonna be OK.”

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 Maria Kuznetsova

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