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Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 1.32.53 PMJoe felt like he was living in a nightmare that would never end. “It felt like the only thing I could control was if I lived or died. It was this feeling of overwhelming sadness and defeat. I thought I was just dragging down my family and friends and rationalized that they would be better off without me since I was such a drag,” he said.

Connecting with people who understood him helped Joe get to a place where he felt calmer and in control. He started having coffee with a professor at his university to talk about what was happening in his life. “She was one of the few who knew what I was going through and walked with me during the dark days,” he says. On one of those dark days shortly after his attempt he was taking a walk through Pittsburg and came across a painting of an anchor with the words ‘Know Hope.’ “I was filled with this sense that I was going to not only survive this depression, but soon I was going to thrive in ways I couldn’t even imagine,” he says. “From that moment, it was game on. In fact, I have an anchor tattoo on my side to symbolize always knowing hope, even in the dark moments.”

He didn’t know it at the time, but he would soon make a group of friends that would help him feel a sense of community. “I won the friend lottery this past year at college. We all lived on the same floor last year and it just clicked. We have so much fun and there is almost always nonstop laughter and love. Sure, we have sad days but we get through them together.” Since his attempt he’s also come out as gay. “My sexual orientation played a big role in helping me get through the darkness of depression.”

And when he is sad, he knows that there is a reason he is here. There’s a reason you are here too. “The world needs you to stick around. I have full confidence that you are going to get through this. Getting past whatever is making you feel suicidal is a hard challenge. It takes a lot of time and energy. You are going to get knocked down a lot, but eventually you’re going to become so pissed and stubborn and you’ll want so badly to get better that you’ll call on courage you didn’t even know you had to stand up again each time you are knocked down by depression. When you do finally crawl out of the valley of darkness that you are currently stuck in, you will be greeted by a beautiful vista. And it will be so amazing.”

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