By Whit Downing
Washburn Review Contributor
“Damn it! Whitney, you really messed up big time.”
That is what has continuously been going through my mind the past few days. If you know me, you may be wondering what exactly I did that led me to swear and call myself by my full first name.
I’ll tell ya.
I found my childhood journals and read them. All ten of them!
In doing so, the pain that I experienced as a child resurfaced. I will not go into detail right now about the trauma I experienced, or about all of the ways that my heart broke. One day I will, but for today, I will say this:
It takes true courage to look your problem in the face, and proclaim that it is real. It takes courage to admit that you are struggling. Whether you are experiencing pains that haunt you from the past, dealing with tragedy right now, or anything in between, I would like for us to do something together.
Me and you. Are you ready?
What we are going to do first, is stop and focus on our breathing. We are going to breathe in for 4 seconds, and then out for 8 seconds.
Do it again.
Do it however many times you feel like you need to. Take your time, there is no rush.
I feel much calmer now, having focused on my breathing for a few minutes. Since reading my journals, finding an inner calmness has not been easy. I have been on edge, panicky, and downright depressed. I have had many frightening thoughts of ending my life.
Thankfully, I have a safety plan that I am committed to following. You see, I made a promise to be here tomorrow. I made a promise to never die by suicide. One thing I will not do is sacrifice my future because of the pain I am in today. What I will do is be honest and open about how I feel. I don’t always get it right. It certainly is not easy. But I am here.
You are here. You are reading this right now.
That is what matters.
The worst and hardest things I have gone through, can not take out the best of me. Because the best me – is an alive me.
The best you – is an alive you. I mean that.
Words don’t come easy for me, especially during times of a crisis. But, writing is my escape, hence the 10 full journals. And writing to you, whoever you are, is my purpose.
After reading my journals, I can acknowledge that I have been a victim.
But, I am not a victim now. Each day has its battles. Every single day, I am faced with barriers. But, to my friends out there: They are not barriers to defeat me. They are barriers for me to defeat.
If you have read this, and made it this far, congratulations! I have a challenge for you.
You have made it through every single adversity that has come your way. I want you to celebrate yourself, and not be your own worst enemy. Trust me, I know it can be hard to do that.
But do it.
Editor’s Note: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides a 24/7 service by offering a toll-free hotline: 1-800-273-8255
It is available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. The number will provide help and refer the caller to the nearest crisis center for immediate help.
Edited by Jason M., Joelle Conway