If you’re reading this, I hope you can take solace in the fact that I am, indeed and against all odds, still here.
I remember the first time I knew there was a word for the way I was feeling. In middle school, I hated eating lunch in the cafeteria since I had no one to sit with. Instead, I would take my lunch (usually just a toasted tuna sandwich with one Kraft single and a couple pieces of lettuce from a $3 ready-to make Caesar salad bag) to my 8th grade Civics teacher’s classroom. Her planning period coincided with our lunch time, so I would sit quietly in her room, feel the toast of my sandwich scrape against the roof of my mouth, and relish in the not-quite-loneliness. I am not entirely sure what it was Ms. Sutphin said to me one particular day that had me suffering a panic attack in the middle of her classroom - most likely the most diabolical of questions when asked genuinely, being “Are you okay?” - but I know I have felt that same weight in my chest every day since.
I do not want to preach to you about what what it feels like to feel as if your body is not your own, about how it feels to have a mouth so dry from five pills’ side effects that you can never talk (and even if you did, what do you say?), about how it feels to be alone. It is not my job to preach to anyone. It is, however, my job to cope. Yours, too.
You will know in that one moment when the sun strokes the side of your face the right way, or when you lie down in the grass for awhile and feel like you belong to it. There will be a moment when someone will look at you with a love that makes everything worth it, who will help you remember to take your meds on time, who will breathe you through your panic attacks. I promise with every certainty I have ever held in my twenty-one years of life that such a moment is coming, and it is coming sooner than you think.
My depression, my anxiety, and my Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) has not, and will probably never magically disappear. I still go to therapy and I still have to skip class some days because I wake up knowing that my legs will not have the strength to carry me through the day. I still hurt, I still feel lost, I still feel alone even when I sleep beside the person I love most.
Please, please, please know that, despite all of these things, if you’re reading this, I am still here. If you’re reading this, you’re still here, too -- and the world is absolutely and undoubtedly better with us in it.
Araba D., University of Virginia