When you’re suffering with mental illness, it’s hard to see a future; it’s just nearly impossible to see beyond the darkness within. Will the sadness ever end? Is life worth living if all that lies ahead is anguish? Can mentally ill people have a successful future? To the sick person, these questions seem to have one answer, a distorted answer, and that is, “There is no tomorrow or beyond.”
I once believed this. When I was deep in my hole of depression, I could only see the dark side to life, and to my future. In college I felt like I had no reason to live. My future seemed like an endless road into hopelessness, inner anguish, deep sadness, and self-injury. There was no life for me to live. Could a person with so much torment within ever find joy or peace? Could I ever be more than an emotional wreck? To me my answer was, “No.” I was blinded by my own suffering.
I didn’t think I could make it through college. Graduating seemed impossible, let alone having a future beyond college. I had to force myself to get out of bed each morning and to go to class. I got sick every morning and in between classes. At night I lay in bed fighting my racing thoughts. Sleep was impossible. I felt so alone and hopeless. I tried to concentrate during classes while struggling to keep awake.
If I couldn’t concentrate in class or keep awake, how could I ever pass? It was so hard to keep going. I moved back home, an hour from school, when my Mom found out how ill I was. I drove to school each day with my windows open and the radio blasting to stay awake. I thought I could keep forcing myself to go to college despite how depressed I was. I thought if I didn’t, I’d be a failure, yet I felt like I was failing. I kept my grades up, yet I still felt like a failure. Even if I were to graduate, I didn’t have the strength to further my future. Who would want an emotional wreck?
One day I drove to college in a snow storm. Once I arrived, I found out classes were canceled. The storm got so bad, I couldn’t make it home or to my grandparents. The school took me to a shelter. The people were nice, but I started crying and couldn’t stop. I looked at all the people around me who were there because they had no place to go. Would I become one of them? The people tried to console me, but there was nothing they could do. My parents had to come and get me.
That’s when I realized I couldn’t make myself continue any more. Once the semester ended, I decided to take a year off. I told my old high school teacher I took a year off to work and she made it sound like I had given up. That made my future seem even more bleak. Something in me wouldn’t let me give up, though. I went to work at a grocery store. I made many friends and started therapy. The person who only talked when talked to started talking to everyone. The sad negative person started seeing a positive side.
My therapist helped me see my life and future in a good light. She told me to fight those negative thoughts and to change them into positive ones. I started to see a future for myself. I started living for tomorrow and beyond. With therapy and medication I found the light, and in a year I returned to college part time and continued to work on the weekends. In three years I graduated from college with high grades.
Years later I fell back into depression and I ended up in the hospital. After the hospital I struggled to live for tomorrow and beyond. I became determined to fight for recovery. I continued to work at the grocery store. My future wasn’t exactly the way I planned it, but it no longer seemed hopeless.
Look beyond the dark hole. Fight for tomorrow. Climb up the hole. Live for what’s beyond tomorrow. Find the light and strive to live in it. Believe it or not, there is a happy, healthy future out there for you. If you give up, you’ll lose the chance to see what God has in store for you and to find out what recovery feels like.
Because I fought for recovery and lived for tomorrow and beyond, I have an associates degree, I’ve worked the same job for twenty-three years, I’ve been married for eleven years, I’ve written the first draft of my memoir, I write this blog, and I write a blog and quotes for National Internet Safety and Cyber Bullying Task Force. I am also their social media director. I fought for tomorrow and beyond and now I’m looking into the bright light of my future.