Many of us have faced this problem: Will it even make a difference in the world if I die? Would it be a net loss for the world? If I commit suicide, will I be missed?
I’ve had this internal conversation more times than I can count. In the end, each time I came back to the decision to keep going forward. There are hundreds of reasons to keep living, but I’m going to share the 10 I come back to most often.
1: Your story is not done.
Sometimes I felt that I was out of options, and that there was no reason to keep trying. Each time, I held on, and my story continued. Every tiny little victory has been worth it. Every time somebody laughs at a joke, or smiles because I randomly waved at them on the street, I know I have furthered my story, and that it is worth it.
2: You are the only you.
A person is nothing more or less than their total experiences in the world. Nobody shares your experiences. They are perfectly unique. As a twin, I often despaired that my life didn’t matter, because my twin could make up the difference. The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realized how wrong I was. Even if I don’t know why, my experiences are building towards something, and nobody else in the world will have my exact perspective.
3: You can help.
Coming out on the other side of a mental health crisis is a trial. I know better than many. It hurts to come back to real life, especially if people know what happened. As I’ve gone through this a few times, I have learned that most people struggle. Nobody is exempt from the difficulties of mental health. By knowing that you have come through, people can take solace in knowing they aren’t alone.
4: You aren’t alone either.
The world is built on the successes of the crazies. From Edgar Allen Poe to Mary Lambert, crazy people have a constant effect on the world. Whether you have Bipolar Disorder, or you are suicidal, there are literally billions of people who know. They can’t possibly know every detail, but they don’t need to. They have literally been there, and can understand your struggles.
5: You can make somebody else’s life better. / The world is better because you are in it.
Whether it’s being there for somebody you know personally, or writing articles, or even your own blog, you have the ability to help others feel less alone. You can be a member of a peer group, or volunteer at a local behavioral health facility. You can also make somebody’s life better. Every time you make someone laugh, you have made their life better. Every time you express your gratitude, you make that person feel special.
6: You are on somebody’s top 10.
I’ve practiced writing down my top 10s many times. The top 10 people who changed my life. The top 10 people who I am thankful for. The top 10 people I would miss if I died. Well, guess what? You are on someone else’s top 10. Whether it’s because you make them feel special, or because you share a unique friendship with someone, somebody out there has you on their top 10 list(s). When I started making my lists, I realized that many of those people weren’t in contact with me anymore. They had no way of knowing they were on my top 10, because I didn’t treat them that way. Just because somebody hasn’t told you that you are on their top 10, doesn’t mean you aren’t on there. It just means they haven’t told you.
7: You deserve to live.
So many times, I have felt that I didn’t deserve to live. This is a downright lie. Depression, anxiety, hallucinations, they all lie. You are worth every second of your life. Every emotion you feel now, or will feel later, is potential that you can only unlock by living to feel them.
8: There is more to learn.
The greatest thing about this life is learning. There are an infinite number of things to learn. Whether you are taking classes, watching television, reading, or just talking to someone, you can and will learn something every minute of every day. Each time you learn something, you add to yourself. You make yourself bigger, better, stronger. You will never be done becoming better.
9: You are not the sum of your failings.
I have spent hundreds of hours beating myself up for my mistakes. I decided at one point to make my mistakes right, no matter what. I learned a hilarious thing about mistakes: Nobody remembers them like you do. I’ve apologized for inappropriate actions, mostly to find out that the person I’m apologizing to has no idea what I’m talking about. This isn’t 100% true, and isn’t an excuse to behave irresponsibly. But it is something to remember in the dark. We are truly our own worst critic. No matter how much you feel like nobody cares, nobody truly feels that you should die.
10: You have your own reasons.
Your passions, your loves, your friendships—they are yours, and nobody else’s. If you don’t know your own reasons for living, search yourself. Meditate, pray, or talk to someone (even yourself) to help you figure it out. Somewhere inside of you, you have reasons to keep living. Nobody can take those away. Nothing is worth giving those reasons up, and nothing negates them. Your reasons to live are a sacred part of who you truly are.
This list is not perfect, and it is not complete. Remember that you are not alone, and that the world will be diminished without you. If you feel like nobody cares, remember that you are reading an article written by a broken, sad, and desperate person. And I care, God damn-it. I pray for your heart, for your compassion, and for you to keep making the right decision. If you need to know I am thinking of you in particular, leave me a comment. It can be anything. When I see that comment, I am thinking of nothing more or less than you. You are loved. Don’t give up. You’ve got this.