I can’t promise that you’ll wake up one morning and your world will be filled with endless sunshine (or moonlight, if that’s more your style) and happiness and prosperity and that you’ll never have another self-loathing or suicidal thought ever again. I can’t promise that you’ll ever be the most well-liked person in your school or workplace or that you’ll never be bullied or loathed or put-down ever again. I can’t promise that your world will be any less overwhelming, any less dizzying, or any less difficult to live in than it is now. I can’t promise that you’ll become the next Nobel Prize winner, the next Pulitzer-winning author, the next Grammy-winning musical artist, the next Oscar-winning actor or actress, the next gold-medal Olympian, or what-have-you. I wish all of these things for you, of course, but I’m no psychic; I haven’t a clue what your future holds.
But having dealt with suicidal urges since the age of twelve, I do know this: staying alive is worth it.
Now, some of you may be thinking, “Yeah, well, staying alive may be worth it for you, but you don’t know me, and you don’t know the hell I live in.” And, indeed, I do not. I don’t know if you having a loving family or supportive friends; I don’t know if you have family or friends at all. I don’t know what it’s like to have your exact sensory issues, your exact deficits, your exact anxieties and fears, your exact tics and stims, your exact pain, your exact loneliness, or your exact regrets. I don’t know if you’ll ever graduate high school or college, and I don’t know if you’ll ever get a job (fun fact: I turn 20 years old in a month, I’m a straight-A student who supposedly has “decent social skills,” and I have never been employed a day in my life. It’s not just you, I promise). I know what it’s like to have my PDD-NOS, to have my weakness and inadequacies and painful memories and regrets, but I don’t know what it’s like to have yourstruggles, and I’m not going to pretend that I do.
But I know what you do have: you have yourself, and that “you” deserves a chance—a chance to try, a chance to experience, and a chance to find beauty in this world. See, there’ll be moments that you’ll be glad that you stuck around to experience. I can’t promise that the moments will be particularly abundant, but I can promise you that they’re there. There’ll be a song that you never heard before that sends chills from the tip of your head to the core of your being. There’ll be a time when you help a stranger, perhaps even an act so small, so inconsequential to you that you have no idea it was an act of kindness at all, and that stranger will tell you that you made their day, and your heart will beat a little lighter for a little while. There’ll be that hobby that you get into, a hobby that you may or may not ever be “good” at, that will fill you with awe and, well, fun! There’ll be a way that the sunset scatters across the clouds, a way that the leaves tumble from the trees or that the wind sweeps across a field of tall grass, a way that the rain will dance along the rooftops, that will take your breath away, even if for only a second. There’ll be a contest that you enter that you swear that there’s no way you will win or place in…but you do, because you’re more incredible than the self-loathing thoughts in your head will ever let you believe. There’ll be battles that you win, discoveries that you make, and joys that you have that bring you happiness just when you thought that happiness could no longer exist.
And maybe it’s presumptuous of me to assume that the little moments of happiness are worth dealing with whatever pain you are dealing with. But consider this: maybe you’re somebody else’s small miracle, somebody else’s stranger, smile, random occurrence that makes their day or even their life, and maybe your dark thoughts are being conniving little jerks that aren’t letting you see this.
Sometimes, you mean a lot more to a person than you’ll ever be able to believe.
Throughout most of my adolescence, I swore that my father merely tolerated me because he had to and that his life would be indefinitely better without me in it. It wasn’t his choice for his wife to give birth to his child when he was 48 years old, when his other children were already grown up and getting on with their own lives and when retirement was just over the horizon. It wasn’t his choice for that child to be “developmentally delayed” and for that child to need speech therapy and special education. It wasn’t his choice for my mother, through no fault of her own, to be forcefully removed from our family picture when I was six. It wasn’t his choice to have a daughter who threw deafening tantrums in the middle of crowded supermarkets and for strangers to judge his parenting skills. It wasn’t his choice to have a teenager that bit and scratched herself, that would almost get them both killed with her inability to distinguish “No!” from “Go!” from the driver’s seat of her small car, that made him stay up late at night sobbing with worry. It wasn’t his choice to have a kid like me. I thought that there was no possible way that he could have trulyloved me—all I ever seemed to do was drain and irritate him, and he didn’t deserve the trouble I put him through.
And I told him this in a therapy session one day; I told him how sorry I was for ruining his life and how I wish that I could be a better daughter, one that didn’t make things so worrysome for him. He was absolutely flabbergasted; he swore that I was the best thing that ever happened to him. Many days, I highly doubt that this is at all true, but the way his eyes almost glistened with tears (note: this is a man who passes large kidney stones and attends family members’ funerals without even hinting at a tear) that day tells me that I must mean something to the guy. He said that I keep him young, that his later years would have been so much less colorful without me in it. Now, I’m sure that I age him much more than I refresh him, but maybe the goofy poetry that I write inside of hand-made cards serves as a Fountain of Youth running behind those wrinkled eyes. Also, I’m his personal tech support; I’m the one that taught him how to use an iPhone and how to set up a Facebook account. That has to count for something, right?
See, we humans aren’t too good at telling our fellow humans how much they mean to us. It may well be that where you look in the mirror and see a burden, an aggravation, a chronic screw-up, others see a joy, a blessing, a person worth having around and a person that makes their lives better simply by you being in it. When you see yourself as unlikable, you may wonder how anyone else could possibly like you, either—I, personally, tend to expect that everyone sees me as bothersome or annoying and am often very taken aback when someone admits any sort of fondness towards me. But you are likeable, and chances are that there’s at least somebody out there who has a fondness towards you and who would be sad if they could no longer experience your presence.
And I know that you can know and believe all of this and that it still won’t take the thoughts and feelings away. I still feel absolutely worthless and useless many days, and I still don’t particularly like myself as a person sometimes. Knowing all of this about the beauty of living and about how loved I really am doesn’t do much to keep the images of a knife cutting through my throat or my body dangling from a tree by a rope from popping up from time to time. It’s an on-going battle, one that you may have to fight every single day or even every single hours. It’s not at all a fair battle, it’s not at all an easy battle, and it surely isn’t a fun battle, but it’s a battle worth fighting, and it’s a battle that you’re more equipped to fight that you may ever feel that you are. And the good news is that there are so many people fighting this battle alongside you and that would be more than happy to help you recharge your ammo. There’s the National and Regional suicidal hotlines for your area (United States: 1-800-784-2433 ; U.K: 08457 90 90 90 ; here’s a pretty comprehensive list: http://www.reddit.com/r/SuicideWatch/wiki/hotlines), as well as several online chatrooms, such as https://www.imalive.org/. There’s the members of this Aspie Life group. There’s me, if that’s anything. There are so many people who want you to win this battle, who want you to live, who want you to experience happiness and success and all that life has to offer. There are reasons to keep fighting. I promise.