Finding light within darkness

Editor shares devastating, yet uplifting battle with depression, suicide

Benjamin Pierce, Managing Editor

I couldn’t breathe.

Sweat streamed down my face as the pale, cold ceiling of my bedroom came into view early Tuesday. I was awake once again. Crawling from my sheets, I clambered to the bathroom sink to look in the mirror and take some Melatonin.

I looked like hell. The grease in my hair was creating sculptures that needed an assault from a comb to contain. The bags under my eyes were so plentiful they seemed to weigh down my face while grey circles formed around my eyes. My lips were cracked and bloody, and the acne had begun to have its way with my skin. I didn’t recognize the man staring back at me in the mirror.

I found the clock, which read 6:41 a.m. Immediately, I was upset because my slumber had only begun one hour before. The dream that woke me was not of sheep or professional athletes. I had just woken from a dream about my death and watching my loved ones cope with the loss.

My depression has moved into my dreams. The illness sometimes consumes my brain in the dark of the night and magnifies my stress while sleeping. I could have stayed in bed all day. But I didn’t.

I got up at 9 a.m. and went to class. It seems like a small detail, but small victories are important for people battling depression.

I decided my depression wasn’t going to win this week.

I’ve tried to kill myself with a bottle of pills. There’s no easy, soft way to say it. It happened. It’s National Suicide Prevention Week, a nationwide campaign geared toward educating people on suicide and the warning signs. Whether you know it or not, there are some Warhawks around you battling depression or suicide attempts every day. From someone who has held that bottle of pills while my life flashed before my eyes, I am telling you this life is worth living.

To those of you battling, don’t give up. I know there are nights when you wake up scared and alone. There are days when you might function on only a few hours of sleep. Some days, you might not make it out of bed. But you are here, and your battle is not unseen.

During the last 12 months, I think I have talked to my parents more than I had previously in my entire existence. They’re my best friends, and I tell them everything. I have started working out (if you ever want free comedy, join me for cardio), which helps a lot to keep me focused and drain negative energy.  My brother and friends make me laugh and smile every day.

If you are battling depression, reach out to someone around you. I know how scary that can be, but I promise you it is the best thing I have ever done. Talk to your doctor about medication or therapy. The combination of the two has been instrumental for me.

Students on campus can visit University Health and Counseling Services at the Ambrose Health Center or call (262) 472-1305. The Walworth County Crisis Hotline can be reached at 1-800-365-1587 and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

To someone who might have a loved one who is struggling, just be there. It is hard to open up and talk about depression and suicide, but family and friends saved my life without even knowing it.

I’ve been making incredible progress, but I would be lying if I said I don’t occasionally still have bad days and worse nights. Some thoughts still creep in and shake me to my core.

But I am determined to beat depression, and nothing will stop me from doing it. I couldn’t do it alone, and I know that I will never have to. Neither do you.