What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
I realize that when your heart breaks you have to fight like hell to stay alive because you are that pain you feel. That’s life. the confusion && tears. That’s there to remind you that somewhere out there is something better && that something better is worth fighting for.
-One Tree Hill
My first reaction to this prompt was to think of all the “accomplishments” I’ve written on my resume, all the things I’ve done that I’ve been proud of, that I’ve made a difference doing. I thought about creating, editing, managing and producing the 276-page yearbook my senior year of high school amidst classes and after school activities and how draining it was. I thought about the double jumps I learned to land after so so so many falling when I skated competitively. I thought about getting into my dream graduate school, even though it happened in the most roundabout way.
I thought about the goodbyes I’ve had to say – to relationships that have faded, to fights that have taken away close friends, to death and divorce and hardship and strife – and my heart aches. Some of those things were incredibly hard, painful, frustrating, and exhausting. And in truth, some of those wounds are still very much open.
But to be truthful, the hardest thing I’ve ever done was survive this pasty year. Physically, there were a set of challenges presented to my body that made me lose control of most of my daily functioning at times. There were hospitalizations and doctors appointments and tests and procedures. At one time, I was fighting so hard physically just to get through the day. But those physical demons, they become mental and emotional too when you’re trapped in your body and your house and your mind and all you want to do is tear away from it all.
From mid-April until late July 2012, staying alive some days was more of an active choice than I would like to admit. But, it’s because I can admit it, because I can speak out about it, that I can offer hope to others. I believe in To Write Love on Her Arms, and in Operation Beautiful, and in so many other bloggers and websites that helped me to feel less alone during this time. I connected through health communities like BensFriends.org and WEGO health to others facing battles similar to mine, and together, we forged a path into the unknown – a life with pain and discomfort and embarrassment, and challenges we never could’ve seen coming.
Today, I can promise you (and myself) that I would never, could never make that choice. I lived through it, in 2008, when a friend and sorority sister took her own life in the house I was living in while I was asleep, and the harm it caused my heart and the fear it caused my life will last forever.
Because I was the one to pull myself up, because I was the one who wrote a memoir titled “A series of reasons” and began to find a purpose each day to be thankful and feel fulfilled, I feel incredibly accomplished by it, and no longer scared to say it out loud. I hope if you’ve ever struggled, or if you are struggling, you know there are resources out there, people to talk to, things to read.
You are not, and never will be alone in your fight. I promise.
Amanda Kasper is a writer, reader, quote lover, CASA advocate, and non-profit believer, seeking space as a lifelong learner, passionate lover, and irreplaceable friend. Amanda tweets at @AKasper513 and blogs over at “& this I believe”