I run in honor of my Auntie Teresa who took her own life when I was in high school.
I also run for myself.
During my own depression, I personally struggled with suicidal thoughts. So, raising money for AFSP is not only an act to honor my aunt, but also an act to keep me accountable to myself.
I consider myself pretty informed, open-minded, and aware of mental health issues. I don’t consider myself to harbor any stigmas against mental illness, in fact; I’ve been in and out of therapy since middle school and never felt ashamed to say so.
Yet for some reason, for years, I fought the idea that I could actually be clinically depressed. Even though I’ve seen so many people struggle with depression and felt so supportive of their struggles, I couldn’t face the idea that I could be “broken enough” to need medication. I felt like admitting that would make me a failure, and I think that's why it took me hitting a pretty low rock bottom to seek help. And I really regret that.
I’d fought the idea that I could need to be medicated, and so I’d tried anything and everything else. I’d changed my career and chased my childhood dreams. I’d changed my lifestyle and lost 100 pounds. But I still wasn’t happy, and I blamed myself for my unhappiness. I thought that maybe I could never be happy.
That’s when I started acting out in self-destructive ways. I put my most valued personal relationships in jeopardy. I was self-medicating in unsafe ways. Running was my only solace, and even running had become dangerous—alone with my increasingly self-destructive thoughts, along a frozen Lake Michigan in a seemingly endless Chicago winter.
I can’t help but wonder how things might have been different for me if I hadn’t felt like a failure for needing to seek medical help. Would things have gotten as dark for me before they could start to get better? I’ll never know for sure.
All I know is that I’m glad I’m getting the help I need now. I’m glad I’m no longer suicidal. I’m glad that running has helped me stay on my feet, moving forward. And I hope that speaking up about my struggle will help someone else out there know that it doesn’t make you a failure if you need to seek help to find your happiness.
Be the voice. Speak up. Stop Suicide.