by Dawn W

I once sat in my college dorm room, staring at the marks on my arms. They had stopped bleeding but were still red. That was my favorite part. The blood was messy, but the pain was welcome. Self-harm was my way of coping with things that felt overwhelming or out of control. The temptation is there still. When things got really bad, I thought of taking that next step. Of finishing the job.

Many times in my life have I lamented that I wasn’t strong enough to do it. To take that last step. Because at the time, I thought that it took strength to give in to the darkness.

I know now that every single day my arms stay clean; that every single day I remain breathing is the strongest thing I can do. Some days are harder than others. That’s okay. I’m allowed to teeter on the edge of the abyss. I’m even allowed to fall in. But I know now how to ask for help. I know who to call when my mind gets ugly. I fight my way back to the light.

Some days the darkness calls and it feels so tempting. My skin burns with remembered pain and all I want is to give in. It would be so much easier that way. Then I think about the way my cat purrs when he’s really happy. Or how much I want to see the new series of Sherlock.

I think about the woman my Mom believed I was and I want to be that woman.

Even when I feel alone, I know that somewhere, there is a person who loves me. It might be just one person, but they are out there. For them, I cling to the light.

Know this: if you are here and seeing these words; I am that one person. I love you and I would notice your absence.

Darkness hides often behind the brightest smiles. The people around you may be quietly suffering. Let them know you are listening.

And if you know what the weight of darkness feels like, please reach out. If you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to a friend or family member, you can come to me. You can also find help and resources in your community through the National Suicide Prevention at 1-800-273-8255.