Growing up, I always wanted to do things that seemed impossible. I spent hours in the backyard taking batting practice trying to become the next Ken Griffey Junior. I spent hours tooling around with my Swiss Army Knife to become the next MacGyver. I wanted to be an astrophysicist, a paleontologist, a race car driver, an engineer, a baseball player, a Corvette owner, and more.
All those times I wanted something: I wanted to live.
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Today is a day when we remember that everyday, thousands of people take their own lives. Today is the day we remember that, for many, life is no longer about the dreams of doing something or being someone. Those dreams have faded away. Pain has blotted them out.
Suicide is a statement that life just hurts too much.
Fifteen years ago, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I spent two years falling into the grey where hopes and dreams go to die. It is the space where nothing is good, nothing is bad, everything is pain. My family and I did everything we could to keep me from dying. I only now understand the time, energy, emotion, money, and commitment my parents sacrificed. But my parents and I did not fight to keep me from dying.
We fought so that, some glorious day, I could live.
For 2 years, all of the appointments, medications, therapy sessions, failures, brokenness, depression, and hopelessness were all put in context by one thing: one day the pain would not define my life. One day I would experience something beyond all of the pain, loneliness and sorrow. Some day, I would truly live.
World Suicide Prevention Day is about hope that we will all live.
I am never going to be Ken Griffey Junior, MacGyver, an astrophysicist, a paleontologist, a race car driver,or an engineer. But I am me, and today I live. Today I will work, seeing friends and family. I will go home and see my beautiful wife. I will go to sleep tonight without fearing the darkness because it does not dominate my life anymore.
Today I dream of helping people experience the hope of knowing that mental illnesses are not going to rule their lives forever, of helping people know their own value and worth, seeing them realize that fully, and discovering the love of God even when all they feel is pain.
If today hurts so bad that you cannot see anything past the pain, I understand. I have been there too. If today you watch your loved ones and fear going to sleep because you know that the worst could happen, I understand, I have been there too. If you feel like tomorrows are only an endless repetition of the hell that was today, I have news: This season hurts, but keep working and hoping and you will have the ability to truly live.