Two friends and I had been talking for hours. Trivial things, mostly. Laughter split the conversation often as we thoroughly enjoyed each other's humor. I'm not sure when the tide changed, but instead of bouncing into tidal pools, it drew away from the shore. Out to the quiet deeps.
Out poured stories long tucked away. All of us consider each other to be stable, vibrant women, but as we talked, we discovered that we all had something else in common. Teen depression.
Our triggering circumstances were all different, but we all had been there. I thank God we all lived to tell about it.
Her beautiful eyes lowered at she told us that the only reason she didn't collide head-on with a semi was the fact she had a passenger.
She showed us the scars on her lovely arms and legs. Scars, now almost gone, where she had sliced her skin to ribbons when her heart couldn't take the pain.
And I relived how I'd lie in bed and the darkness seemed to take form and mock me and I'd remember the rope I had seen coiled on the shed beam.
Those were dark, lonely years. And all three of us were alone in our confusion, pain, and fear.
We are better now. To say "I thank God" is so cliche, but only a thousand colorful balloons released to the sky could better articulate my gratefulness. I love being alive. I can't comprehend not being alive and present in today. Now, instead of the future seeming long and bleak, it suddenly looks too short to do and experience everything I hope. And I can't imagine my life without my friends. It's a thought too horrible to entertain.
I share our stories because I believe there is power and healing in the telling. I hope that someone will say "Me, too!" and know they are not alone or somehow tainted.
I also share our stories because our experiences are far too common. One in six teens self-harms. About 60% of teens have thought about putting an end to life. Odds are, you know a few of them. They might appear self-confident and happy, but be there for them. You don't know whose life you might be saving.