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Why I Choose Life by Maddison Wittmann

I know what it feels like to be stuck, feeling as though things could not possibly get any better, feeling so low and deep in depression, that it seems the only option is to not be here anymore.

I know because I have also had thoughts of giving up. I’ve suffered bullying. I’ve endured chronic medical conditions and invasive tests and procedures. And I’ve lived with clinical depression and anxiety. Depression that has made me feel so miserable and hopeless, that at times, I’ve honestly believed that there was no other option.

But there was. There always will be.

Fortunately, I decided to give life a second chance and I’ll be forever grateful that I did.

It all came down to a single moment of realisation. I am so blessed with this thing we call life, and an amazing one at that, why would I want it to end? I mean, it would have been such a shame to miss out on fulfilling my purpose in life, to grow into a woman. I hadn’t achieved all I had wanted to achieve, so giving up so prematurely didn’t actually make sense to me.

Along with my personal realisations, witnessing the impact of my depression on my family affected me significantly. Yes, I was the one who lived with the despair, but so did they. It was when I saw the heartbreak and pain in my parents’ eyes, I sincerely felt loved and cared for, and I knew I wanted to stay here with them for as long as I can.

It’s no secret that suicide rates are extremely high, and I have some understanding of the driving force behind people’s motivations to want to end their life. Our minds are extraordinarily powerful entities, so I can understand the force of the negative thoughts going through some people’s minds. But for me, as there may be for you, there were other options and alternatives to suicide. It deeply saddens me to know that some people are unaware of these alternatives or are unable to have faith in other options to ease the pain.

Unfortunately, like it or not, you have to want to make a difference. You have to want to feel better. And you have to understand it’s not always going to be smooth sailing.

I for one know that I have developed immensely since originally being diagnosed, but it isn’t always easy.

Only 6 months ago I found myself in difficult circumstances, deep in depression. Suicidal thoughts came and went, telling me things like life would be easier if I wasn’t here anymore. The difference this time for me was that I didn’t intend on acting on those thoughts because I now know that there are other ways to eliminate my pain and discomfort.

In the midst of my last period of despair, after I realised I was heading down a dark road again, wanting to feel better, I began regularly seeing my psychologist again. I asked for help.

The relationship with your psychologist is fundamental in your healing. You need to trust, be honest, and feel comfortable discussing aspects of your life that are likely contributing to your unhappiness. And finding the right psychologist for you won’t always be a quick process. It might take some research, it might take some phone calls to chat and get a feel for their personality. You might even have a few sessions before deciding whether you ‘click’ or not. And that’s okay, you just need to find the person who is right for you. Don’t give up if you don’t find them immediately.

I’m currently in a state of happiness and confidence, I’m continuously growing, learning, and discovering new ways to maintain my mental health. Yes, I’m not perfect, I still have bad days, like everyone, but I always get through them because I’ve got the right tools in my toolkit to keep going. I’m dedicated to this life-long process of proactively caring for my mental health.

I’m not ashamed of my experiences with mental illness, just like I’m not ashamed of my physical health, sometimes we get sick, and we need to make ourselves feel better. Depression and anxiety are extremely common illnesses, you would be surprised how many of your friends and family members have suffered from a mental illness. It’s very normal, and not something to be ashamed of.

The key in my healing and development has been my desire to feel better, to be happy, to be confident and to live my best life. Without that desire, I probably wouldn’t be here today.

If you are feeling low and discouraged, I hope you take the time to assess your options, discuss them with your loved ones or with a professional, but most importantly decide if you’ve had enough of feeling this way. If so, it’s time to take charge and make some changes.

It’s going to be hard, and it’s not going to be a quick fix. Maintaining mental health is an ongoing journey for everyone, depressed or not, and it’s only going to fill you with wisdom, knowledge and a love for life.

Start with your GP, discuss other services such as a psychologist or other mental health professional. Evaluate your support system, assess your lifestyle decisions, and learn to discover the things you love about life - why you believe life is worth living. Set goals - what do you want to achieve? What do you want to be? And why should you choose life?

If in need, Lifeline offer 24 hour telephone support in Australia on 13 11 14. 

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