Content Warning: Depression & Suicidal Thoughts

Well, it’s January. I’ve been been staring at a blank page for days, knowing that my buffer of scheduled posts are up, and I need to get writing again. Knowing that I have so little to give right now.

2022 was not a good year for me, Guys.

I mean, on paper, some really great things happened, but in all the ways that an events calendar cannot capture, it was a really rough year. My mental health has not been good. I spent large portions of this past year isolating and insulating myself to survive. November and December were the hardest. I found myself holding my breath, wishing the days away. I, a big-time Christmas lover, never once put on Christmas music for myself this holiday season. Instead I listened to an alternative rock song on repeat like my life depended on it. Who knows? Maybe it did.

It’s hard not to feel discouraged by all the good vibes/finish this year strong/start the New Year on the right foot/new year, new me stuff that floats around this time of year. It’s harder not to laugh maniacally at the mental image of myself dressed in spandex, crossing a metaphorical finish line with arms raised, and a crowd of people cheering me on.

Definitely not me.
Not me either.
Oh hell no.

No, I did not cross the imaginary finish line victoriously this year. I crossed it on my stomach; too exhausted to even rise to my hands and knees. I crossed it covered in dirt. I crossed it dehydrated with chapped lips. I crossed it by dragging myself through sharp gravel with broken, bloody, trembling fingers.

Yet, if you have ever been severely depressed or suicidal, then I know you’ll understand what I’m about to say: that sometimes finishing strong looks a lot more like the second mental image than the first. That the strongest moments in my life were not the ones where I was running. They were the ones where I was crawling, dragging, and inching forward one breath at a time.

If you have never been suicidal, I would like to invite you today to consider a different picture of what strength and success looks like. I know we have all been conditioned to believe that it looks exciting and victorious. We’ve been conditioned to believe that it looks like a first place ribbon, a promotion, a financial windfall, a ceremony with our achievements recognized for all to see.

Yet, the strongest people I know have never received recognition for their strength. There are no ribbons or plaques for Went to work every day at a job they hate, because they would do anything for their kids.

Or, Started over with nothing because they had to leave all security behind when they left their abuser.

Or, Went back to baseline twice while searching for the right medication, and somehow survived every single withdrawal symptom.

Or, Had intrusive thoughts of killing themselves every single day this year… and didn’t.

If this is you: if you achieved something this year that no one else would ever recognize; I want to take this moment to formally recognize you. I want to praise you for not giving up. I want to applaud the enduring strength that didn’t just show up one time, but showed up day after day against the worst odds.

And if you are still here after feeling compelled to take your own life, I am cheering for you the loudest. I know what it takes to fight to stay alive just one more moment, one more breath, unsure if you’ll have enough strength to stay the moment after that.

I see you.

I see you.

I am cheering for you.

Let’s take one more breath together.

My unconventional Christmas Carol. In case it’s what someone else needs to hear today.
And the acoustic version, in case alt rock is out of your comfort zone.

© 2023 Ashley Lilley – First time commenting? Please read my Comment Policy.

6 thoughts on “Finish Strong

  1. I can relate to this.
    While I agree that simply surviving is a victory in itself, I’m at a point where I’m tired of success being defined as surviving – It’d be nice to thrive for a change.
    One thing that keeps me going is taking it day-by-day; “Maybe today things will be better/change. Maybe today I’ll figure things out. Maybe today I’ll get my miracle.” Because if I knew a decade ago that I’d have to go this long without things changing/getting better, I probably wouldn’t be here now.
    Sorry that things haven’t been great for you. I’m glad you’re still pushing through

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My dear Ashley , I can certainly feel for you . I have been in depression the biggest part of my life and hide it really well, even from Len. Sometimes he makes fun of me and I almost burst into tears , but get a grip on life again and hold it in . As you probably remember I took the baby blues after Cathy was born( and she was such a good baby )but did I ever truly recover from that . I don’t think so , so do I ever feel for you. From one who truly knows !!!!!!!!


  3. A while ago I found a small sign at the dollar store that says “The strongest hearts have the most scars”. It has lived in a prominent place in my living room(s) ever since.

    Liked by 1 person

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