It’s time to talk.
This will likely be a little long, but I won’t apologize. #sorrynotsorry.
I’m fairly candid about my struggles with mental health overall, but I don’t know how many people realize just how dire the situation got a few years back.
I wasn’t just an angsty teenager (21 actually- but who’s counting?). I was depressed and closer to making a permanent decision than I’ve ever been.. I got in my car, not knowing what else to do or where to turn. I didn’t know how to ask for help because I didn’t know what was wrong. I had come out as gay, and thought that was it.. but I’d fallen to a place even darker than before I’d come out. I drove for a bit, eventually stopping at a bridge just on the outside of the town I lived in. As I sat with the door open and figured out how to write on a napkin what was going through my head, Demi’s ‘Skyscraper’ came on the radio. I’d never heard it, or if I had, I’d never given it much thought. For whatever reason, on that night in October of 2011, it made me pause. I turned the volume as loud as it would go and just listened. It made me think about what I was doing, and how desperately I wanted to feel better. I closed my door. I put the napkin and pen down. I sat on the side of the road and I sobbed. I cried for the desperation I felt; I cried at the thought of being a disappointment; I cried for all the things I wished I could be. The song that played was one of resilience, of not letting outside factors win, and of never giving up. I took that with me as I pulled myself together, turned my car on, and drove home. I crawled into bed as if nothing had happened. As if moments before I hadn’t been literally teetering on the edge of taking my own life.
I won’t say that Demi is magic and I was immediately better.. I still struggled deeply with my depression, and my anxiety started to present around that same time. It took me another 5 years to finally find my answer, and those 5 years were some of the hardest of my life. I fought every day just to stay afloat. Even now, my depression and anxiety still rear their ugly heads to remind me that they are never fully gone. It never gets quite as bad- my worst days now are better than my best days back then.
Many people think I’m just a random fanboy of Demi, but the truth is, I literally owe her my life. My sheer love for her comes out of gratitude, because if that song hadn’t come on that night, I can tell you with 100% certainty that I would not be around today. Every time she comes this way on tour, I go see her play. Until tonight, she always played that song, and I always cried. Tonight was the first time since 2011 she didn’t put Skyscraper on her set list. Tonight was also the first time that I have acknowledged that it’s okay to talk about my experience. I have told parts of this story to exactly 5 people in the almost 7 years since it took place. Only one of those people knew me in those days, and we weren’t nearly as close then as we are now. I was always fairly vague with the details; I didn’t talk about this before because I was ashamed. I didn’t want to admit that I had very nearly given in. I didn’t want my family to know, and to worry. **For my mom and dad, if you’re reading this: I’m sorry that you’re just finding this out. I am okay now. I promise you, I’m in this for the long haul. I’m not going anywhere.**
It’s taken me until now to come to terms with the fact that it’s okay not to be okay. It’s okay to struggle. It’s important to know in those times of desperation that things will get better. I’m living proof of that, thanks to Demi Lovato.