When I was 16 I planned on killing myself. I knew that I was never going to go anywhere, I was never going to be anything, I was never going to contribute to the world and I was only making things harder for everyone I loved by being here, wasting space, costing money.
I decided that I would wait until my hockey team won the Memorial Cup. Three years later they did, but by that time I had talked about it, been treated for clinical depression and realized that things were not, in fact, as hopeless as they seemed.
This is something I have spoken about with only select people in my life until now. It seems silly to describe it as embarrassing, but that’s how I feel.
Since I was 16 I have gone through waves of depression – one particularly bad one when I was 22 – but I’ve always talked to my doctor, gotten bad on the meds, and pushed through because someone always managed to convince me that it would be worth it. Or maybe just because I was always curious to see what I would have missed.
A couple of weeks ago I was listening to the radio on my way to work and they were interviewing a guy who has created a website for teenagers to go to when they feel as hopeless as I did, someplace that he hopes they will find the time and support they need to back away from the ledge. The website is called YourLifeCounts.org and it is a nice idea with a few problems that I can see, as someone who has been there.
One problem is that part of the idea is that kids can send in an email and someone will respond to them within 24 hours. I’m fairly certain that a lot of the time they will find that 24 hours was just too long. When you’re in that state of mind, you not going to stand by and wait for someone to get back to you and let you know why your life counts for something, because you don’t believe there is a reason. You don’t believe that they are going to get back to you because you’re not important enough – you don’t matter. Which brings me to my main problem with the website – the name.
When I was in the depths of my depression, when I was ready to give up any future I had just to make the hurt go away, it would have been completely beyond me to go to a website called ‘your life counts.’ Because, with that url, they certainly didn’t mean me.
I’m not trying to destroy this website or make light of what they’re trying to do – which is a great thing because depression is a cruel thing to deal with and I can’t imagine losing a family member to suicide – but I think they need to learn their audience, and I know that audience. I was there. They need to re-jig the message because right now I think they’re missing out on their core audience. The kids they really want to help are the kids who don’t want to talk to anyone about their feelings because they don’t want someone to try and change their minds. They don’t want someone to sit them down and explain all the generic reasons their life counts, they want someone to tell them why it’s worth living when they feel as though their life doesn’t count and that just by being there they are making things harder for everyone around them.
They need their fathers to call them out on it and their mothers to explain how awful it would have been. They need some stupid goal to live for, some light in the future that gives them the opportunity to get out of the depths before it’s too late.