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How I Overcame Self-Harm and Learned to Live with Depression

“I haven’t beaten depression. Instead, I’ve learned to live with it”

Provo, UT

A man with glasses shares his story on how he overcomes self-harm and depression.

My battle with depression began at birth, especially with my family’s history of depression. I’m also gay. I was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, otherwise called Mormons.

The Church teaches that homosexuality is sinful, which terrified me. At fifteen, I asked myself the question almost all young gay Mormons from Utah ask themselves: Am I going to come out to my parents, or am I going to kill myself?

I spent months using self-harm as a punishment for the gay thoughts, until June 2015’s Supreme Court decision of marriage equality. This was the hope I needed to tell my parents, who reacted well.

My suicide urge shrunk into a silent monster that lived, ignored, in my mind’s recesses. Until three years later, when a friend came out to his parents and was rejected. He shot himself the next day.

This took a greater toll than I can phrase. I was a missionary for an organization whose teachings had almost directly taken my friend’s life. I wanted to return home, but a mission is a rite of passage.

I didn’t want to tell and worry my parents, and my fellow missionaries pulled away from me. I was isolated, trying to grieve while spreading the Church’s doctrine.

On my mission, I attempted suicide twice.

After the second, I returned home. This saved my life. I reconnected with my loving parents and – equally as important – with a network of gay people who were dealing with my same issues. I went to therapy and took my medications faithfully.

I haven’t beaten depression. Instead, I’ve learned to live with it. I’ve learned that my real self and the suicidal monster that lives in the back of my brain will always disagree about the best course of action, but I just don’t trust that little bastard anymore.

I continue making the needed changes. I talk openly with my family about my feelings. It helps them understand what I’m going through and provides them a chance to ask me for help.

If you are struggling with depression, don’t give up. It won’t be easy, but it gets easier. Reach out, get the necessary help. One day, you may find yourself waking up on a Sunday morning, covered in sunlight, surprised to realize that you no longer want to die.

Life may seem impossibly long at times, but it’s precious. I wouldn’t trade it away

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