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If You Feel Like You Can't Go On, Read This

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Hey there.

I wanted to let you know I noticed you today. 

I saw you give a smile to the person across from you at the gas station this morning and respond, “Thanks, you too,” when they said, “Have a nice day.” I saw you look at your phone and see the four urgent emails that came through just while pumping gas. For a brief moment I saw the burden of it all in your eyes reflected in the rear-view mirror as you were calling your co-worker while driving away. My heart broke for you, carrying the stress of your job and supporting your family while your own needs are being pushed aside. As I saw you settle into, “This is just how it is,” I wanted to reach out, but I didn’t want to impose so I stayed silent.

I saw you at the park with your toddler, cheering as she gathered the courage to go down the slide. I saw you share a picnic lunch and felt the love when she rested her head on you while watching the clouds. As you were pushing her on the swing, I saw the self-doubt in your eyes and the isolation you feel. My heart ached for you, wondering if there was more for you but feeling selfish because you love your daughter. As I saw you tell yourself to stop dreaming, I wanted to reach out, but I didn’t want to seem judgmental, so I stayed silent.

I saw you in chemistry class, laughing at your lab partner wearing his goggles backwards. I saw you at lunch, surrounded by friends, talking about what you did over the weekend. I saw you get off the bus and walk home alone, and I saw fear sweep over your face as you tried to process your parents’ divorce. My heart shattered for you as you wondered what your future would be. As I saw you feel your world crumble, I wanted to reach out, but I didn’t want to make you feel worse, so I stayed silent.

I saw you at the grocery store, angry with the cashier and demanding to speak to the manager. I saw you in a meeting at work, anxiously clicking your pen with your shoulders tense and your jaw clenched. I saw you driving in traffic on the way home, abruptly switching lanes and yelling at other drivers, and I saw a glimpse of the worry you felt for your sick mother. My heart cried for you as you wondered if this would be your last visit with her. As I saw you replaying memories and wondering if you had said the right things, I wanted to reach out, but I didn’t want to make you angry, so I stayed silent. 

I saw you at home in your basement alone in the dark, skipping school and drinking. I saw you checking your phone to see if there was anyone wondering where you were. I saw you pick up a bottle of pills and stare at them for a long time before tossing them in a drawer, and I saw the desperation in your eyes. As I saw you desperately needing someone to tell you that you matter, I wanted to reach out, but I didn’t because I it wasn’t my business, so I stayed silent.

I don’t know you, or maybe I do, but I am not going to stay silent any longer. I see you pretending like you are OK and putting on a brave face when you are feeling the water rise around you. I am here to tell you that you are not alone, you can get through this, and it’s OK to let you guard down and not be strong. No one should feel invisible, not good enough, too burdened or have to go through anything alone.

If you are feeling this way, please reach out to someone. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255), text Crisis Text Line (741741), talk to a friend or a teacher. You matter and this world needs you.

Originally published: April 7, 2019
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