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What I've Learned About Adversity Since My Father's Suicide

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The last time I saw my father was on a Tuesday morning. “I love you. I’ll see you later,” he said to me as he stood in the doorway of my bedroom. I remember thinking this was odd because he almost never said goodbye to me in the mornings before leaving for work.

Had I been able to see into the dark mist that was clouding his conscious at that moment, I would have told him what an incredible father he was, that he deserved all the happiness in the world and that I needed him to stay. I needed my dad because I was still his little girl, and I needed him when I graduated from high school, and I needed him to walk me down the aisle when I got married, and I needed him to someday meet his future grandkids. But I could not see into his mind, and I could not read his thoughts, so all I said that morning was, “I love you too.”

author when she was a little girl sitting on her dad's lap

One of the hardest parts about my father’s suicide was facing the mental illness it had left me with, and the stigma that came along with it. I was no longer a regular 16-year-old girl; I was now a 16-year-old girl battling severe depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress. I was no longer the star of the lacrosse team or the straight-A student; I was now the “crazy” girl who had panic attacks at school and was barely squeaking by in her advanced classes.

I was so ashamed of the person I had become. Why was I not even strong enough to make it through a school day? Why was I not able to bounce back and be the normal teenager I had once been?

My father’s suicide was by the far the hardest thing I have ever had to face. But through it, I grew. I began to learn I was not the labels people put on me and I was not what doctors wrote me prescriptions for.

I believe we will all face adversity at some point in our lives: adversity that will beat us down until we feel we do not have the strength to stand back up. But through my father’s suicide, I learned I am not the adversity I have faced. I am the power I receive every time I get back up after life knocks me off my feet. I am the strength I have every time I smile through the pain. I am not the mistakes that I, or anybody else makes. I am the lessons I learn through them. I owe it to my wonderful father to be the best person I can be. But even more than that, I owe it to myself because everybody is worthy of true joy.

If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

The Mighty is asking the following: Tell us one thing your loved ones might not know about your experience with disability, disease or mental illness. What would you say to teach them? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: March 25, 2016
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