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Content warning: sucicide, depression, anxiety, eating disorder 

As someone who struggles with mental illness. I know how challenging living with it can be. Sometimes we feel like giving up. Sometimes we don’t understand why we are like this. Sometimes our minds haunt us even when we think we are happy. 

So instead of letting the darkness win we have to encourage and support one another to continue fighting for our happiness, well-being, and self-love. 

That being said, here’s a new blog perspective. Here’s some inspiration, advice and personal stories shared from some of my closest, strongest friends to keep you going in the darkest of times.

Mackenzie (author)

I feel like suicidality is something that’s been an inherent part my entire life. While 2018 was the year I decided to die, it was also the year I started to live again. Suicide is preventable. The pain of suicide loss is real, and I would never wish it on anyone. Choosing to live is manageable when you put your mind to it. When it feels impossible to focus on anything other than my pain, I look for a distraction.

I have found the best therapy for me is helping others, it gives me a purpose when I feel like I don’t have a place in this world. When I’m convinced that everyone would be better off without me, I challenge those thoughts. And when I feel completely and utterly alone, I push myself to reach out. I meet with a trauma and talk therapist three times a week to keep myself from relapsing and to continue to remind myself to practice healthy habits. I have been taking anti depressants and anti anxiety medications since I was 15 as well. Throughout the years I have learned that it is more than okay to not be okay. Do not feel ashamed to reach out for help, there are always people looking out for you. You are not alone.

{when I was hospitalized for a period of time, the nurses, CNA workers and doctors made the biggest impact on my stay and recovery-they offered so much wisdom and advice that eventually I ended up keeping a journal of the life advice they shared with me. I read it all the time and I will share some with you}

“Rock bottom is a perfect foundation to build your new life” 

“Your life isn’t yours to take” 

“Hard times don’t define you, it’s a part of you”

“Find what motivates you to stay alive”

“If you already experienced pain and you already got hurt, get an reward from it” 

“Accept, forgive, move forward”

“Don’t let the place you’re at today define who you are, instead, let it be the defining moment for big positive changes in your life”

“Sometimes even to live is an act of courage”

“Mental illness affects you but it DOES NOT define you”

“Love who you are, not who you’re not”

“Pain is temporary but if you quit, it will last forever”

“Every day is a new day, every moment is a new moment”

“The opposite of depression isn’t happiness, it’s vitality which is the continuance of living”

“Breathe in, breathe out, only things you gotta do today”


I’ve struggled with mental health issues for as long as I could remember. Whether it was anxiety, depression, bipolar, or suicidal thoughts. Sometimes, life felt like an empty cold place. But everyone has a strength in this world, whether they realize it or not. A strength, which makes them unique in the battle against their demons.

For me, my strength was dedicating my life to doing good for others. I pushed myself and most of the time I fell. But I didn’t count the times I fell, instead I counted the times I was able to get up and get through it. I put myself through nursing school, and so many more milestones…even when it felt impossible. And it was me that did it, because I found a purpose. Everyone has their own strength, they just have to realize what theirs is.


Mental health is a conversation being had more and more with every generation. Growing up, you think something’s wrong with you. That this isn’t normal. Everyone else seems so happy, why aren’t you? I can promise there is nothing wrong with you.

Living with a mental illness can be so emotionally draining. At times you feel as though you’re drowning, but as with everything I’ve learned, there are positives and negatives. Having depression isn’t something I would wish upon anyone, but it has given me such a different perspective on life. Treat everyone with kindness, because you never know what they’re going through. Life is so short, live it! It is more than okay to feel emotions. You’re not broken, you’re human.

My eating disorder took my entire life from me; Family, friends, happiness, my mental health, my figure, a year of my college career, my heart and bones. Everything. Even when I had gotten down to the weight I had dreamed of, I was unhappy. I looked like a shell of myself. However, recovery has been the most freeing thing to experience. You learn to have a healthy relationship with food. My biggest takeaway from recovery is that ​the number on the scale does not define you!​ If you are happy with what you are eating and happy with what you see in the mirror that is ​ALL​ that matters.

 I haven’t weighed myself since February, and that has helped me feel so much better about eating. Food is nourishment, not the enemy. Help for a mental illness comes in all different sized packages. I can tell you I’ve had my fair share of professional help. I have been seeing a therapist since my sophomore year of high school, am taking antidepressants and have booked an appointment with a psychiatrist, and even received treatment for my anorexia. You don’t have to go through this alone and you sure as hell do not have to feel embarrassed to ask for help. There are so many people in your life that want to see you happy, healthy and alive. You have to want that for yourself too. You have to do it for you.


I’ve attempted suicide, seven times. I’ve almost succeeded, multiple times. I’ve lost jobs and friends and my marriage because of my mental illnesses. I know pain. I know that deep, unexplainable ache that envelops you, crushing your lungs, shattering your soul, leaving you naked on the floor silently sobbing because you don’t even have any tears left to cry. I know darkness. But I also know light. And I know laughter, love, glee, excitement, and raw and real happiness. 

And if I can know those wonderful things after wanting to die due to a horribly abusive life, battling (and overcoming) and eating disorder, and living with multiple mental illnesses, I have no doubt that anyone else can, too. Therapy, meds, and patience are what saved me from myself. They can help you too. Don’t. Give. Up.


The bottom line: there is always hope 

Now that you’ve heard from myself and some of my closest friends, I hope sharing our stories encourages you to share yours, whenever you’re ready.

 I am eternally grateful that I have had the ability to help others through my story. I am not ashamed of my past because I wouldn’t be half the person I am today if I hadn’t dealt with this stuff. I urge you to not be ashamed either and feel strong and empowered instead. If I never experienced pain, I wouldn’t have figured out who I am or the person I want to be or that there is always hope that I thought didn’t exist at one time. Most importantly I wouldn’t have been able to use my past, use my pain and my experiences to help others, who are where I was. One day you’ll be able to tell your story too, of how you’ve overcome whatever you’re going through now and  when you get to the other side (and you will), you’ll have the opportunities to help so many people.  You will then see that you’ve gained a whole lot more than you thought you lost. You got this and I am so proud of you. Keep on fighting because you’re a survivor, always remember that. 

Through organizations like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Crisis Text Line, and others, there’s movement towards shifting our approach to suicidality, reducing stigma, and breaking the silence.

For those experiencing suicidality, you’re not alone, and there is always hope, even if it doesn’t feel like it now. 

If you or a loved one are experiencing thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.


  • Becky


    I just wanted to thank you all for your honesty and for sharing elements of your stories. It’s reassuring to know that there are others out there who understand some of my experience and who continue to battle with the consequences of severe mental health problems/despair.

    For many years I have struggled with my mental health, with medication and therapy being part of my life for over 12 years now. On a daily basis, I have to invest in my mental health to ensure that it doesn’t become debilitating or that I become a risk to myself. This takes both time and money; whether that be prioritising my gym membership (-although, this hasn’t been that helpful during lockdown!); paying for semi-regular, private therapy; reducing my employment aspirations to ensure I do not take on too much; or paying for childcare even if it’s not absolutely necessary. What my lived experience has taught me is that investing in long-term support requires both financial and emotional investment.

    Having reflected on my lived experience, what has surprised me is that I have never been offered ‘continuity of care’. After 12 years of struggling, why would the system think that there will come a time when I no longer need any support? Or that when I have a relapse, I’m not going to fall as far back as I usually do because there’s nothing there to help me when I start to feel my feet slipping a little? Mental health ‘recovery’ is talked about as a journey, therefore why are people simply left stranded on a path with no ongoing support and direction once they’ve started on that journey? The beautiful and insightful poem by the late Portia Nelson (1920 – 2001) entitled ‘There’s a hole in the sidewalk’ ( indeed touches on the harsh, but hopeful, reality of many people’s journey.

    Overall, I feel that my lived experience has highlighted a definite gap in the provision of long-term mental health support. When someone has a chronic physical health condition, they often connect with services on a 6-monthly or annual basis, to check in and see how things are going. Yet, in my experience, the same service has not been offered to me. Also, I feel I have been set up to fail when people only use the word ‘recovery’ in relation to mental health as there have been times when I feel like I’ve completely failed when I have a ‘flare up’ or ‘relapse’, simply because I hold a false expectation that if I just did ‘x’ or ‘y’, I would no longer experience any kind of mental health difficulty. I personally find it more helpful to think that I am in remission.

    All of the above has led me to the point where I am passionate about addressing this lack of ongoing, regular support.

    The seed of an idea

    Beyond Session 8 is my vision and hope that more people will have access to ongoing, long-term support. A community for people who come out of a therapeutic process that is there for them to help them build on what they have started to address/learn in therapy, to either prevent them from experiencing a severe mental health relapse in the future or to ensure they can access support when they feel one is approaoching. My vision is that people will become a member of a community through which they will be able to access ongoing 1-2-1 support as well as peer support from a people who have some understanding of each others’ journeys.
    Beyond Session 8 members would have the opportunity to meet with a mentor or coach, most likely on a bi-monthly or quarterly basis, to 1) talk about how things are going, 2) help them continue to make progress with the things they learnt during their therapeutic process, and 3) to ‘catch’ people when things are starting to feel like they are slipping. In addition, Beyond Session 8 members would join a community of people who will:
    • bring hope and encouragement to each other on their mental health journey;
    • provide a space for people with shared experiences to connect (rather than being signposted to a local cycling or knitting group where people are unable to be honest about their real reason for being there);
    • offer a range of activities, events and talks to members, all of which would be designed to be uplifting and promote well-being;
    • develop a buddy system to provide support and accountability for people in maintaining those ‘good habits’ that help to keep them well.

    This is only the start of an idea, therefore if anything in here resonates with you – either personally or professionally – please do get in contact with me so that you we can really start to think through the best way to approach some of the issues and ideas I’ve outlined above.

    Many thanks for reading

    [email protected]

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    • Vibrant Communications

      Hello Becky, Thank you for reaching out to our community to share your story and encouraging others! Don’t hesitate to call the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) if you ever need extra support. The call is free and confidential and counselors are available 24/7.

      Posted on