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Why I'm Thankful I Stayed Alive

I'd be lying if I didn't say that I've been staring at my computer screen for hours reading this blog over and over and over, second guessing if I should even post it at all. Today is a day that brings up a lot of different emotions for me. I remember every little detail about this day six years ago. It’s weird when something so significant in your life happens that no matter how much time passes, it sticks with you for forever. I remember I was 17 years old. I remember it was a Sunday morning. I remember my family not going to church because my mom had a stomach ache. I remember seeing my dad in the kitchen on his computer and my sister in her bedroom as I made my way to the basement. I remember the pain in my heart and the emptiness in my soul. I remember collapsing onto the bathroom floor, praying that somebody - anybody - would come save me from myself. I remember my thoughts. I remember my feelings.

I remember it all.

Now, my story isn’t anything special and I don’t claim it to be. I’ve survived and overcame a lot of hard stuff in my life, but hasn’t everyone? We all have a story to tell, I just think the difference between me and most people is that I decide to openly put mine out there, even when I don’t want to. Even when I’m really f**king scared to. Crazy, right? Maybe. But you see, I’ve seen the impact that sharing my story has had on other people through my advocacy work and I guess that’s why I do it. Over the years, I’ve had complete strangers from around the world tell me that my story has saved their life but it’s not because it's anything special. It’s because through my story individuals have realized for the first time that they aren’t alone. Believe it or not, people connect to the hard, ugly, raw shit more than they relate to the facades that many of us put up on our social media accounts every single day. There’s something really comforting in knowing that we aren’t the only ones suffering. Whether people want to admit it or not, we all struggle. We all have things we’re afraid to talk about. We all have fears and dark secrets that we’ve convinced ourselves will never escape the prison that's inside of our mind. Maybe because we’re embarrassed or ashamed or maybe because we don’t want to be perceived as weak, wrong, or different. Regardless, pain and suffering is part of being a human but so is hope and overcoming. At 17 years old, I was depressed, I self-harmed, and I tried to end my life. There’s nothing beautiful or glamorous about it. There’s nothing about it that I’m proud of. There's nothing I wouldn't do to be able to go back and tell that teenage girl that she has so much more to live for than what she's telling herself.

Here's the thing- I didn't write this blog to ask for your sympathy. This blog is all about helping somebody out there who currently feels like how I once felt when I was 17 years old. I know that when I was suicidal all I needed was a sign or a reason to stay alive, no matter how big or small. And I guess my hope is that this can be somebody’s sign. The scariest but bravest thing I ever did in my life was deciding to stay alive when I didn’t want to. So when I tell you that life is worth it, I mean it from the bottom of my heart. Stay alive because this life will get better. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not even next year. But one day it will. And you deserve to be around to see the day that it does.

If you or somebody you know is thinking about suicide, please call 1-800-273-8255.

#NicoleVana #suicideawareness

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