It was National Suicide Prevention Week and I’m a few days late in writing about it. This is a blog about mental health and the stigma surrounding this topic is slowly breaking down, being talked about, becoming a more open conversation between people.
But suicide is still the 10th leading cause of death in the US. On average, 117 deaths by suicide occur on a daily basis. Close to 43,000 Americans die by suicide each year.
So when my dear heart and friend, Coco, reached out to me about writing something for The Happy Depressive on behalf of NSPW, I said “ABSOLUTELY.” I had the pleasure of sharing yoga teacher training with Coco about 2 years ago and when I met her, she had this fierce and glowing fire within her. She is so intelligent and funny and she is also affected by the same bouts of depression and anxiety I, too, face. We connected over these things among our love for yoga, coffee, good books, and sarcastic humor to get us through the shitty parts of life.
Coco moved from St. Louis to Chicago to St. Louis and will be venturing out to LA within the next several months. She is a talented producer and has worked on a mulitude of film projects around Chicago and continues to share her love of singing in St. Louis where she currently resides. I am honored to share her open letter to her 10-year old self which is nothing short of honest and vulnerable.
Coco, thanks for allowing your heart to continue to beat even though the struggle can get too real at times. You are a treasure and I’m so proud of your desire to keep fighting the good fight. You’ve got a whole army of warriors standing with you…❤️
An Open Letter to My 10-year-old Self
By now you’ve become aware of some feelings of anxiousness, crippling fear & deep sadness. At ten-years-old you’ve already thought, “I wish I wasn’t alive.” You don’t know it now, but you suffer from depression and anxiety; you feel a lot of feelings, sometimes all at once and it is hard for you to explain that to the people around you. It’s hard to show that side of yourself for fear of more ridicule and rejection. My dear, sweet self, I’m sorry to tell you that these feelings will get harder as you grow older and they will not ever go away, not really. As you grow up these thoughts will become more frequent, the sadness will affect you deeper, whether because of heartbreak or hardship. You will attend the funerals of both of your grandparents within five years of each other, you will go with your mother to her first round of chemotherapy. People will try to take advantage of all those feelings you have.You will get your heart broken before your senior year of high school, and that person you thought was your best friend will try to turn other friends against you. You will have fights that will end friendships and guys that will reject you. You will see endless accounts of racism and sexism and homophobia in the news, on the street, on the internet. All of these things will put a great burden on your shoulders and an aching in your chest; it will feel like you are carrying the world. Sometimes your brain will tell you that you’re not good enough, not pretty enough, not talented enough, not strong enough. It will tell you that leaving this world, your family, your friends, your hopes & dreams is easier than sticking through it all. It will make you isolate yourself from the people you care about most. It will drop bomb after bomb after bomb onto your spirit until your are exhausted. You’re going to hurt and feel a lot for the rest of your life, Coco, and I am so very sorry for that.
But I don’t want you to give up or get down, Coco. Because while you will struggle with these demons you will also know incredible joy too. The differences people make fun of you for will become the most beautiful attributes that you have. You will find people who accept you for who you are, inside and out; you will know unconditional love even if you don’t always feel it every day. You will share your laughter with others into the latest hours of the night, huddled together with your friends on the floor at a sleepover. You will feel adrenaline and excitement pump through your veins as you take the stage in your first Off-Broadway performance. You will know what it’s like to cross an ocean and live in another country. You will see sunrises and sunsets that will move your soul. You will fall in love. Again. You will find the things in life that make your heart soar with happiness and contentment. You will be an actor, a filmmaker, a yogi, a photographer, a starter of dance parties, a fan of comic book movies. You will discover your favorite bands and take road trips and get your nose pierced (twice!) and get tattoos and reinvent yourself and stand up for what you believe in and most importantly, you will share your spirit with others and they will love you for it. They will celebrate you and they will need you and their lives will be forever changed because you were around.
You see, Coco, as you grow up you will stumble and fall, you will scrape your knees and get bruised. You will question yourself and then question some more. You will know grief and loss and anxiety and depression and betrayal and anger and the cruel unfairness of the world, but you will always get back up. People will find their way into your life when you need them the most and they will help you carry your burden, because you were never meant to carry it alone. They will bring you the help and joy and love that you need and you will give it back to them in return because that is all we really have in this life. We have each other. And this world can’t do it without you. So chin up beautiful, you’re going to be just fine.