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This story was originally posted on May 6, 2022. Visit the Nevada Sagebrush Archive to see all past stories.

Editor’s Note: This story has content that may be triggering for some readers.

Some mornings, I wake up with no idea what to do next.

Where do I go from here?

There’s no motivation left in the world to keep me moving. No amount of force can push me forward. I’m just stuck in an endless loop where nothing gets better.

That’s what depression is. An all-time low of claustrophobia where the world shrinks in on you, and you get smaller and smaller as it does.

I close my eyes and dream of a better world … maybe even just a better mind to live in — one that doesn’t feel like it’s collapsing in on me.

It is not the environment around you that makes up your depression. It’s not the weather or a person that makes you feel lost. It’s not anything but your own mind playing tricks on you, telling you that you are feeling empty. Are they really tricks? Or are you really empty?

Why do I feel this way? Why do I wake up in the morning and not want to get out of bed? Why am I different from everyone else?

How do I keep going?

I close my eyes and dream of my best friend’s smile in the moon, stars and the sunset. I close my eyes and picture an afterlife where him and I can run through the clouds together with nothing to care about except our sweaty, intertwined hands and each other’s joyful bliss.

The third leading cause of death for adolescents aged 15-19 years old is suicide. On average, there are 130 suicides every day in the U.S. alone.

Brooke Germain/Nevada Sagebrush
An illustration of the green ribbon for May, mental health awareness month.

I close my eyes and think of 130 people everyday— sitting alone in their rooms or offices or safe places —drifting out of existence without recognizing the love they can show the world.

Anytime I felt like I could drift out of existence, I would remember my dad and mom.

I remember my sisters, my brother, my brother-in-law and my baby nephew. I think about my grandparents and my aunts and uncles. My cousins and my friends and all the people whose lives I’ve ever made a difference in. They matter too.

Even if you don’t think you’ve made a difference in someone’s life, you’ve made one without even knowing it.

I think about the 130 people everyday— just as much as I think about the 3.5 million people in 2019 who attempted suicide. And the 1.2 million who attempted in 2020. And I’ll continue to think of the ones in 2021 and 2022 and so on, because they matter.

You all matter.

I can say it one hundred times and people may still not get it, but it needs to be heard until it is understood. It needs to be shouted from the rooftops until it echoes through the minds of everyone who can hear it.

Losing a friend close to you to suicide is one of the most traumatic experiences you can go through. It changes you.

Before, I used to think I didn’t matter. Before, I used to think I could close my eyes and just fade away.

Then my best friend, who was only 20 at the time, took his own life.

That’s when I realized that it wasn’t freeing like I’d hoped. It was a fake reality we let ourselves believe could be real.

I watched the damage it did to the people around me — felt the pain it did to me. Everyday, I asked myself what I could’ve done differently. Everyday I told myself there was more I could’ve done, especially knowing his struggles with mental health.

 You learn it is not your fault. You grieve, you cry, but you keep on living because you know they couldn’t. Now, every time I think that life feels too hard to keep going — I think of him.

I’m living a new day for him and for those 130 people who lose their lives everyday because they think it’s the only way to be free.

That is why I sit at my desk, writing this story about mental health. I want the world to recognize the problem it’s dealing with. We have suicide hotlines and therapy sessions, but it is not enough.

I’m telling you we need to do more in our own lives. We need to do more.

One little compliment can go a long way.

“I like your shoes.”

“Your fit is on point today.”

“Did you do something new with your hair? It’s gorgeous.”

Even if you think you’re not affecting the people around you, I’m here to remind you that you are. Let’s share love and show people that they belong here with us.

May is the month for mental health awareness, but every day should be a day of mental health awareness. Check on your friends, reach out to those who you think may need you and remember — everyday — mental health matters.

I close my eyes and think of my best friend smiling at me. He runs away, fading from my sight, reminding me that he’ll be there when I’m ready — but he hopes that I’ll stay here a lot longer.

I will turn 20 and then 21 and then 22.  I will keep on living … for me and for you.

We’re all in this together. You, me and the world.

You are not alone.

If you or someone you love is in immediate danger please call 911. If you or someone you love is struggling with mental health, please call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

Opinions expressed in The Nevada Sagebrush are solely those of the author and do not necessarily express the views of The Sagebrush or its staff. Jaedyn Young is a student at the University of Nevada studying journalism and English. She can be reached at jaedynyoung@sagebrush.unr.edu or on Twitter @jaedyn_young3.

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