GUEST POST: Have Faith In The Universe – by Sean

I’ve been in touch with a lovely blogger, Sean, and I want to say a big thank you to him for allowing me to post this wonderful piece.

Hello everyone…

Let’s discuss Depression today. I’ve been in that dark place before and it’s not something I ever want to go back to, actually I’ve been there twice. Once when my mother passed away then in my Sophomore year in High school. These would have to be the hardest times in my life and I’m thankful I was able to come out of the dark cave. Let me dive deeper.

I was nine years old when I lost my Mom to Breast Cancer. It was horrific and sad, but the thing that depressed me was that, neither of my parents would be around. My father, I can only guess what he’s doing right now but anyway, I didn’t have either of my parents. I ended up living with my older sister who is great but the thing was, my mother was gone as well as my father. I fell into a depression because I felt like a burden on my older sisters. One was working and the other already had a family of her own so what was a Sean suppose to do? I remained depressed for the next two years. I never thought about killing myself but I didn’t want to be alive. I was 11 now and I was more mature. I had to grow up and come to the harsh realization that the world did not owe me anything. The universe took my mother and I had to deal with that. Once I came to terms with my mother’s passing, I got better. Things got better. For a while I had to fake my own happiness until I eventually was happy and it wasn’t until I was 13 when I realized I was finally better and my laughter and smiles were actually genuine.

It was my Sophomore year in High school and it felt like I was losing my mind. Not only were my grades sub par but I felt as if I wasn’t sleeping or enjoying myself. No matter what I did I was not happy. (Again with the theme of happiness.) I felt this way until the summer going into my junior year. During the summer I lived on a college campus as part of this program I am involved in, isolated from everything I knew was troubling me. My friends within the program helped me through this tough time. They believed they were just being my friends but little did they know, they helped me through and out of my depressed phase. Along with coming out of my depressed phase, I also grew into my own body. I used to always say I was a 9 year old in a 22 year old’s body, (I have the body of a 22 year old college football player) but I finally grew into myself. My personality evolved, I became the Sean I was born to be.

Depression can be tricky. Depending on if the issue is internal or external there are different ways of handling it. The depression with my Mom was dealt with internally, it just happened that I molded into being happy. The depression during my 10th grade year was dealt with externally. My friends helped me through it. If you’re depressed or someone you know, tell them that it gets better. TRUST ME. It does. Have faith in the universe.

Sean (forever hopeful)

Thanks again, Sean, and if anyone reading this would like to talk or would like to write a guest post please get in touch!

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I avoid the elderly.

That makes me sound like an awful person, right? And it is awful, but unfortunately it’s true. If I see an elderly customer I will be polite to them, but I will finish the transaction as soon as possible. I visit elderly relatives as little as I can. And I absolutely refuse to go to funerals. Why? Because I’m terrified of death and everything that reminds me of it.

When I look at someone so fragile and tired, it just makes me so sad. I’m sure they’ve lived such a wonderful life, it’s just not fair that it has to end. I have quite a few elderly relatives. (My family seem to live forever.) I have two great nans who are still alive, but both of them are very ill, and can hardly walk or eat by themselves. For the past year I’ve made so many excuses to avoid visiting them- I’m sick, I’ve got coursework, I’m seeing friends etc. Anything I can do.

I have never been to a funeral. I want my last memories of my friends and family to be good ones, where they were alive and free and happy. I would hate my last memories of that person to be cold, and filled with sadness. But sometimes I feel so guilty too. I’ve missed out on so many of my loved one’s funerals, and although my parents haven’t said anything about it, I’m so scared they’ll think I don’t care when really it’s the opposite.

It just scares me so much that every memory I have, all my hopes and dreams and achievements will one day not matter. How fair is that?

So, what can I do? Is there any way to get over this fear? Is there anyone out there who feels this way too? I know I can’t keep going on like this forever.

Thank you for reading, and as always I encourage anyone reading this to get in touch with me if they need someone to talk to.

GUEST POST: Life is a death sentence- by Daniel

Hey guys, I’ve got another amazing guest post for you courtesy of the lovely Daniel. 

It’s common knowledge that life is a terminal condition. One day, hopefully in the long time, we will all pass away. Now most people take this information in their stride. They live their live to the fullest. They chase their dreams. Live lives that most think about constantly. Many people, on the other hand, decide to remain ignorant of this, and live lives devoid of meaning. They sit and think about the lives they want to lead. They think about following their dreams, but put it off. It can wait. I don’t have the money. Opportunity will fall in my lap, I don’t need to go out and take it.
Sadly, this isn’t the way to live. Charles Richards once said ‘Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of’, a sentiment to live by. Start living today. Audition for that play, apply for that job, start that novel, book that flight to the far off country you’ve dreamed of visiting ever since you were a child. Waiting for your dreams allows others to convince you they are unattainable. Waiting for happiness quickly becomes settling for mediocrity.
Life is hard. Life is sad. Life will hurt like nothing else, but life is worth it. Seize the day like there is no tomorrow, because for all you know, there might not be. Life is a Death Sentence, but it need not be a slow march. It is what you make of it.
For Alyssia.
Thank you again, Daniel, for being a wonderful guest writer. And if anyone would like to guest write for me please contact me at: aleve44@hotmail.com.

GUEST POST: Suicidal Thoughts, Self-Harm, Depression: It’s Okay- By Matthew Tome

I’ve been wanting to include guest writers and posts on this site for a while now, and I am so glad that my first guest post is about something so close to my heart. As many of you know my best friend committed suicide when we were both very young. No body should have to feel like he did. I want to give a massive shout out to Matthew Tome at Exactlywhatyouneed.org for giving me permission to post this to help raise awareness of self-harm, suicide, and depression.

For many of you, suicide may just sound like something “cowards” or “weak” people do. You’ve probably cracked some jokes about it with your friends, playfully told people, “Just go kill yourself”, or maybe even looked down upon someone who actually attempted to kill themselves. The same goes for victims of cutting/self-harm and depression. These people seem to get rejected by society, even picked on for being vulnerable. I’m not trying to justify suicide or self-harm here. I don’t believe there is any justification in taking your own life or hurting yourself. What I’m trying to get at is, there is a major problem in our society. If someone is hurting themselves, thinking about taking their own life, or suffering from depression the LAST thing you should do is pick on them. It highlights a repulsiveflaw in your character, and is extremely detrimental to the person who is suffering. And, as for that suffering person, there is always hope.

On this blog, I search the world for things that inspire me. When I find one, I research it; study it better, so that I can find what exactly makes it so uplifting, and hopefully adopt those characteristics into my personality, and share it with you all. My goal is to encourage and help guide as many people as I can to the better lifestyles that they deserve. As someone who was formerly depressed for a period of two years (with a break in the middle of a few months), I can honestly say: Depression is no joke. 

For personal reasons, I won’t go into depth about the causes of, or specific events related to, my depression publicly. If you’re interested in learning more about me, my story, or even just need someone to talk to, you can contact me at exactlyceo@exactlywhatyouneed.org. I’ll be sure to respond to each of you, personally, as soon as I possibly can. Support is the most useful tool for overcoming depression, so don’t think you’re alone in this world. Some people honestly do care.

It’s not some momentary sadness that you can cure by buying a shiny new toy. It’s a disability that can last for extended periods of time, and in some cases, even for the rest of your life. It leaves you tired, weak, unable and unmotivated to go on. It deprives you of most, if not all, the joy in your life. I remember several occasions where I’d be hanging out with my friends, laughing and having lots of fun (or so it seemed on the outside). But, in the back of my mind, there was this lingering feeling. You could never seem to shake it. It’s like a little voice inside your head saying, “That smile isn’t real. Just wait till you’re alone. I’ll show you what you’re really feeling.” The instant you became isolated from other humans, it would all hit you at once. That nagging little voice turned into the ONLY voice. It was this overwhelming, debilitating emotion that completely and utterly consumed you. No matter what you tried, no matter how times you’ve experienced it before, no matter how badly you wanted it to stop; it just wouldn’t. That was definitely the hardest part of my life. No other hardship could even hold a candle to it-financial debt, wondering where I could find a job, not knowing what I was going to do with my life, broken relationships, divorce, family deaths. Depression was, and probably will continue to be, the biggest obstacle I ever faced in my life.

But, That’s the Beauty in All of This

It was just an obstacle. That’s not to lessen the traumatic experience of going through depression. It’s insanely difficult; seemingly impossible even. But, it can be overcome, just like any other obstacle. It will be hard, but you can make it. You will come out: stronger, more passionate, full of life, and full of love. It teaches you to appreciate every waking moment, because you never know when it might be your last.

Life is full of beauty and wonder. This goes unnoticed, overlooked, and unappreciated constantly, but it’s there. I promise you. Life is so worth living, it’s almost hard to understand how you didn’t think so before. I’ve been there; wanting to die, feeling like a complete waste, totally useless, and just wishing it would all end so you could stop feeling. It sounds horrible (and it is), but I’m actually glad it happened. It helped shape me into the person I am today; a person I am extremely proud of and happy to be.

To help drive my point, we should look at Thomas Edison. He had a fantastic outlook on life and I think we could all benefit from adopting this perspective. Ryan Holiday talks about it here on “The Tim Ferris Show”. (Lovely podcast, by the way)

At age 67, Thomas Edison returned home, one evening, from another day at the laboratory.Shortly after dinner, a man came rushing in his house to tell him some urgent news. A fire had broken out at Edison’s Research and Production Campus a few miles away. Fire engines from the eight nearby towns rushed to the scene, but they could not contain the blaze. Fueled by the strange chemicals in the various buildings, green and yellow flames shot up six and seven stories, threatening to destroy the empire Edison had spent his entire life building. Edison calmly but quickly made his way to the fire, through the now hundreds of onlookers and devastated employees, looking for his son.
“Go get your mother and all of your friends,” he told his son with child-like excitement. “They’ll never see a fire like this again.”
“What?”
“Don’t worry,” Edison calmed him. “It’s alright. We just got rid of a bunch of rubbish.”

This was, no doubt, a hefty loss for Edison. Years of hard work, millions of dollars, and tons of research/prototypes were lost in that fire. Edison knew he couldn’t let this stop him though. He lived by “Amor Fati”. It’s a Latin phrase that can be translated as “love of fate”. To put it even simpler, you have to “love everything that happens in life.” The good, the bad, the totally life-altering traumatic experiences. Love it all, and greet it with a cheerful smile. Edison knew this, Jack Johnson (first black heavyweight boxing champion) knew this, and Ryan Holiday knew this. All three of these people are/were very successful people. They all had this common belief and outlook on life, so there must be some power to it, right?. I’ve began to incorporate into my life, and it’s worked wonders. It helped drag me out of my two-year depression. Before, I was very grim about living. My life had no meaning, and I didn’t see the purpose in anything. Now, I’m well-driven. I chase after my dreams relentlessly, brushing off all opposition: the naysayers, rejections, and non believers. Of course, this doesn’t mean go running off without a plan, but that’s a whole other topic.

How to Find Help

For those of you who are struggling with depression, thoughts of suicide, addiction and self-injury, you can find help from myself or loads of good people over at Heartsupport, or even check out this cool project: Project Semicolon.

At Heartsupport, you can find people, like yourself, struggling through things right now. They have a community forum where people can post and receive support from people all over the world. They also have lots of great bands/artists give personal life stories that are remarkably relatable. Heartsupport was created by Jake Luhrs (vocalist of August Burns Red, one of my personal favorite bands for many years now). If you like, you can support his band by buying their music, donating directly on Heartsupport, or even just participating with the community.

Then there’s this fantastic idea behind Project Semicolon. “A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you, and the sentence is your life.” They use a semicolon to represent that your story is not over. You’re enduring through the tough parts. If you look back at any great story though, be it fiction or nonfiction, isn’t the part where the protagonist struggles the good part? Those are the juicy bits that build the story, strengthen the hero, and builds them into the wonderful champion who overcomes all obstacles presented before them. A story without struggle is boring. Who wants to read that? Not me. You’re just giving your life character; making it interesting by enduring the hardships, so that one day, you can tell others about what you’ve been through, and that YOU MADE IT. You’re still alive right now. You’ve made it through EVERYTHING life has thrown at you, so don’t give up hope. You’re stronger than you realize. Keep your chin up, and keep trying. Together, we can make it through this world (and as a pleasurable experience, at that).

I just want to say thank you again to Matthew Tome for allowing this beautiful post on my site. And if anyone reading this wants to speak to someone about their personal experiences with these subjects you can email Matthew at: exactlyceo@exactlywhatyouneed.org or you can come talk to me at: aleve44@hotmail.com.

My boyfriend died 5 years ago. This morning he made me pancakes.

Have I got your attention now? Good!

I should probably start at the beginning. This morning by boyfriend made me breakfast and we began talking about whether there’s life after death. Now I personally am not religious but I like the idea that there is Something out there, and that when I die I’ll go to the Somewhere where there is happiness and kindness and Unicorns and blah blah blah etc.

Then, while still eating pancakes, my boyfriend casually said “You know it’s actually quite nice, I’ve only died once but it’s not as scary as I thought it would be.”  Wait…What?! Turns out that 5 years ago he was at his dad’s house and he passed out. His heart stopped beating. His dad performed CPR until the paramedics arrived and he was taken to the hospital where they managed to restart his heart. According to my boyfriend he just felt peaceful, like there was nothing to worry about and he said he felt happy. It terrifies me that Kyle could have died that day, if his dad hadn’t come home early or if the paramedics got stuck in traffic then he may not be alive today. But it also reminds me he, and everyone I love, is precious. Plus I’m a little bit less scared of dying now because now I’m sure there’s Something (and although Kyle didn’t see any Unicorns I’m sure they’re there) and I’m also a little more convinced there’s a Someone and I’m so grateful they chose to save Kyle that day.

I had no intention of writing this post, and up until last night I didn’t think I could. But then I typed in the word ‘Suicide’ into the search bar of this site and I came across hundreds of people who are thinking about taking their own life, and there is no way in hell I’m going to do nothing because if I can even make one person realise they are important then it will have been worth it.

In less than 48 hours it will be the anniversary of my best friend’s death. Joshua was aged 12 when he hung himself on Wednesday 19th May 2010. He left behind two guilty parents, one heartbroken sister, and me, a damaged 11 year old girl. Joshua was beautiful. He was also very gay and everyone knew it, and of course this led to bullying. It got to the point where he didn’t even want to go outside. One day we were sat in his room and he kept touching his sleeves and wincing every time he moved.  I grabbed his sleeve and pulled it up a and there were so many scars overlapping each other, I couldn’t understand what had happened and I guess I was in denial. He told me he had one for every time someone called him a faggot or a pussy, every time someone had pushed him over, each time someone had sent him a text telling him to die he had added another scratch. I don’t want to go into detail about how I discovered he died because that won’t help anyone and I’d rather not spend my Sunday morning trying to describe the pain of that moment.

Joshua would have turned 18 this year. We should be giggling over boys, and we should have had that joint 18th birthday party that we planned when we were 10, but that can never happen. I wish he could have met my boyfriend and saw me at prom where I wore a dress for the first time, and I wish I could have seen his face when I got my scholarship for University. And I am crying right now so I’m going to stop talking about the what if’s because he’s gone and there is no point thinking about something that is never going to happen.

Joshua thought that he was a burden on us and he thought there’s no way to fix the problems he had with bullying and his sexuality and that is why he took his life. But there is always another solution. Please go talk to someone, your parents, teachers, siblings, friends, or call a suicide hotline (http://www.suicide.org/international-suicide-hotlines.html). Every single person reading this has a reason to live, and I completely understand that life can be overwhelming sometimes and it’s okay to feel that way. But self harm and suicide are not the answer. You don’t see the effects of suicide on the people you leave behind and the guilt and the pain and the tears. I’d like to think that this post may help someone, and maybe that’s just wishful thinking, but  it is too late for my beautiful Josh but it’s not too late for you.

I just miss him so fucking much.