Jessica Morris is a former TWLOHA intern and the author of “When Hope Speaks.” Her work is the inspiration for our World Suicide Prevention Day campaign theme this year. You can purchase her book here.
“Stay and find out what you were made for.”
I wrote those words with others in mind. But a month after I penned them, I realized they were for me, too.
I was sitting in my driveway, unable to get out of my car, crying. I began repeating the phrase to myself.
“Jessica, please stay. Find out what you were made for.”
I hadn’t felt this lost in years. The last time I was suicidal, I was a teenager. I’d healed a lot since then and wore my recovery like a badge of honour.
When it began to tarnish, I started to lose hope.
“God, I don’t know what to do. Please, help me to stay.”
I don’t know how long I sat there, willing someone to come and help me.
I was burnt out, and I felt like any ground I’d taken since my diagnosis over a decade ago had been lost. The thoughts of suicide that once consumed me were back.
I closed my eyes and tried to remember why I chose to stay the first time.
I stayed to witness the morning, which always came and broke the long sleepless nights.
I stayed to see my favourite singer in concert, and to play his new album on repeat.
I stayed because God promised me I was made for more than this.
I said it over and over and over, until the words became a song giving me breath.
I had taken so many steps forward in my recovery that I forgot where I started. And it was the small things—like breathing and getting up each day, that were big things back then. It was the counselling and the journaling that stole away the darkness and brought light to my soul.
Choosing to stay meant I found out what I was made for.
When I was 15, I realized I was made to write. That I could potentially create stories that would help people, just as they had helped me.
At 18, I went to university and found out I was made to be challenged, and stretched and to embrace change.
At 21, I travelled to America for the first time, and my heartbeat told me I was made to love two countries and their people fiercely.
At 23, I lived in a small beach town in Florida, and I found out I was made to push back against the stigma that surrounds mental illness.
And that day, at 26, I knew I was made to be honest about my deepest pain and heartache, so that somewhere out there, another person might choose to stay as well.
When you start remembering everything you’ve lived for, you can’t help but know there’s so much more living to do.
I was made for seeing the world. For walking the streets of London, visiting Israel, and being reunited with the friends who have stolen my heart across the globe.
I was made for experiencing the glory of falling in love. To become a confidant, who navigates the best and worst of life with my best friend.
I was made for seeing beauty when I look in the mirror, and to desire a healthy body over a skinny one.
I was made for rejoicing with friends and family. To laugh hysterically at our favorite TV shows, blow out candles on birthdays, and walk into the unknown with clasped hands.
I was made for carrying the legacy of those gone too soon. To run for Amy, for Chris, and for Chester.
I was made for sharing my heart with the world. Unashamedly, imperfectly, and uniquely giving it my best, knowing that in the end, love is the most powerful force on the planet.
As I sat in the driveway weeping, the door to the house opened and my sister came out.
In that moment, she was my miracle. Because choosing to stay requires a next step, and there is always someone to take it with you if you reach out your hand and ask for help.
They are the reminder that you are not irreparably broken. The proof that your existence matters. The foot hold to the top of the mountain, where you see everything you’ve overcome.
I did that day. I choose to today. And I will remain tomorrow.
Your purpose will come like the morning sun. Just stay.
Stay and find out what you were made for.