Stay Alive, That Would Be Enough (National Suicide Prevention Day)
**Gavin shares his own struggles with anxiety and depression while offering advice for others currently struggling.
Sometimes I'm not OK. And I've only recently come to terms with that being an acceptable feeling to have. This is tough for me to write because I don't know if it'll be off-putting to share my own feelings and experiences with depression and anxiety nor do I want anyone to think that I am ungrateful for the life I have. But I feel like I kinda have to if it even helps one person. Tomorrow is National Suicide Prevention Day (September 10th) so it felt appropriate to share my story now.
Recently, you may have heard the news that Selena Gomez and Zayn Malik either stopped touring or bailed on shows because of anxiety and depression. This is a very real issue that affects everyone. Even though Gomez and Malik have fame, fortune, and millions of fans worldwide, they still suffer from the same anxiety and depression that a lot of us do. How can this happen? If they have everything, what can they be depressed about? The answer is simple: They can be depressed about anything.
Depression isn't logical. It doesn't make sense. Everything in your life can be going great but depression shows up and says "Hey, sure you have all of this, but why not dwell on this one thing you DON'T have and let it be your primary focus?" And that's even if your depression allows you acknowledge the good aspects of your life. Depression is an old and broken pull-out couch in a 5-star hotel room that you sleep on because there's an illogical comfort to it. You want to get out but you just can't.
I don't have my s*** together. I like to pretend I do but I don't. I'm not Selena Gomez or Zayn Malik, I'm just a guy who talks on the radio in a market of 100,000 people. I'm "Evansville famous." But I'm a real person with real feelings and that's why I'm writing any of this. Maybe reading that the guy you occasionally hear on the radio is going through the same thing might not make you feel so alone. That's my goal. I want you to know you're not alone.
And I'm not trying to be particularly gloomy and doomy or ignore the positive aspects of my life. I have friends, a good job in the field that I chose, a place to live, and a really badass cat. These are the things I can pinpoint in my life and say "These are good." Yet, I know that sometimes the hardest thing to do is get out of bed and exist.
This week is National Suicide Prevention Week and my goal is to keep you here. It's a tough order to fill, but hear me out. Living can be hard. You encounter good times and bad times, the bad times stick out more than the good because our brains can suck. Whenever I've been at my lowest, I prioritize reasons to stay. I stay for my sister, I stay for my best friends, I stay for my co-workers who embrace the weirdness that is me, and I stay for the aforementioned badass cat. And if I can rationalize those not being important enough, I just set a goal of something I'm looking forward to. It doesn't have to be anything life changing, just something to keep you here. For myself, it's usually because this year might be the year the Cubs finally do it. Granted, being a Cubs fan probably doesn't help with the sadness I sometimes feel. Maybe you like Star Wars a whole bunch and it would be a shame if your weren't here to see how the new trilogy ends. Anything to keep you here is a good reason to keep living.
And there is absolutely zero-shame in recognizing the things you are feeling. You don't have to ignore the sadness and hope it goes away. There are so many avenues in order to get help. I've been seeing a therapist for the past three years. I've been on antidepressants. I'm not ashamed of any of that and don't hide it. You shouldn't either. If you have a broken arm, you get it fixed because leaving it broken isn't a good idea. Why should your mind be any different. (And I'm in no way suggesting that your mind is necessarily broken.)
The lyrics in the title of this blog are from the song "That Would Be Enough" from Hamilton: An American Musical.
Look at where you are
Look at where you started
The fact that you’re alive is a miracle
Just stay alive, that would be enough
These lyrics resonate with me because I've come a long way from where I was 15, 10, hell, even 5 years ago. And I would guess that the same can be said about you. The fact that any of us are here is a miracle considering how much can happen in a day. Your life has meaning, even if you don't think it does. The last lyric is the most important: Just the act of staying alive is enough.
Depression is a battle: It's ugly and it's long and it's tiring. It's the "Battle of the Bastards" from Game of Thrones on a daily basis. You feel like you're losing most of the time. But you don't lose until you give up. As long as you're alive, you're in the fight. I fight and stay alive for my friends, my family, and for YOU. If you need someone to stay alive for, stay alive for the "Evansville famous" radio DJ who occasionally gives you tickets to stuff and plays that song you want to hear. The world is a better place with you in it and even though we've probably never met, I care about you. Keep going. *hugs*
If you feel like harming yourself, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline now at 1-800-273-8255.
This blog is dedicated to everyone who has ever battled with depression and is in memory of those who are no longer with us because of it.