There it was. The text my friend sent me around 10 at night. Today I didn’t want to look but I knew I needed to see how she was feeling. I slowly unlocked my phone, pressed my messages icon, then tapped on her name. The text read, “The pain, it feels so good. Yesterday I dug my nails into my skin and it was so relieving.” This was another alarming text from her, she went on to tell me how much she hated living, and why she wanted to die. It all began after her best friend betrayed her and dated her boyfriend. Soon after this she felt alone and started falling victim to the voices constantly telling her to hurt herself. She swore me to secrecy. I did not want to betray her trust and kept her secret hidden from everyone else. This is a time in my life where I should have exhibited true leadership, followed my gut, and spoken up.
A few weeks later she attempted suicide. She overdosed on pills and was immediately rushed to the hospital. Thankfully her attempt was not successful. If her suicide would of been fatal, my decision to stay silent would have been devastating. My inability to speak up would have left me gutted. I wish I had spoken up, because I should have been braver. I should have been stronger, if not for myself for her. There I was trying to comfort my friend but I felt like I hadn’t helped at all. I did little to significantly help her.
When she was in the hospital, I discovered more about her mental battle. She suffered from depression and was taking antidepressants. She was beginning to get the help she needed. As I look back on the time I spent talking with her, a part of me wonders if I should have recognized the red flags and gotten her assistance from a therapist or psychiatrist. I was more concerned with being her loyal friend and respecting her wishes. I was not prepared to shoulder the burden of her serious mental illness.
Since this incident with her, I have had to reflect on my beliefs about what it takes to be a true friend and leader. I wish that I handled the situation differently. I later realized that I should have told somebody about my friends’ issues because suicide is a serious mental illness. At the time I was not courageous enough to be the friend she needed me to be. I have spent my time focusing on ways to advocate for others as well as myself. I have grown as a leader by being bold and bravery to accost any problems that come my way.
This situation has prompted me to inform others about the demographics and importance of depression. So much so that I recently made a presentation to my classmates about depression, allowing them to take action and learn complexities involved in depression. I am glad that my friend chose me to talk with about her feelings. I continue to check up on her and see how she is feeling. I feel like I impacted my friend’s life in different ways. I provided her with a listening, trusting ear when she most needed it. I encourage her frequently and remind her of how important she is to her family and to me as her friend.
She has also impacted my life. I am now not afraid of speaking up. After this experience I have endeavored to become the type of person that empowers and supports others even when it is not comfortable. I want to use my voice to do this, and never miss an opportunity to be a voice for those who need it.