Content Warning: This piece contains mentions of suicide.
“The world needs you here.” These are the exact words that I so desperately needed to hear when I was just twelve years old. This phrase could have changed my life; and now, I know that it can change the lives of those around me.
At twelve years old, I became a suicide attempt survivor before I even became a teenager.
Growing up, the biggest thing I lacked was emotional validation. I struggled to feel understood, and only recently have I learned that this is the result of repressed childhood trauma. Constantly feeling unheard made it difficult for me to be vulnerable with others. It felt impossible to let my guard down and trust that someone could help me. When I did reach out for help, I was not met with the empathy and appreciation I needed. A simple acknowledgment of the courage it took for me to admit that I attempted and survived suicide would have meant everything.
I needed someone out there who could inspire hope by showing how we can overcome adversities. I needed someone who understood the feelings of being invalidated in so many capacities. I needed someone who would tell me that I am needed here and that I am loved. Today, I have become that person for my younger self. I write letters to that little girl who needed time to heal, and sometimes she writes back to me. I give her space to cry, as difficult as it can be to let those tears flow. And then, when she’s ready, I embrace her with the biggest hug.
As I’ve spent the past few years learning more about mental health, one tool that has helped me understand what I had been lacking when I was younger is Active Minds’ V-A-R, or Validate-Appreciate-Refer method. As a child, all I needed was to feel heard, not ignored. To feel loved and appreciated, not judged. V-A-R showed me what I had been missing, and it has helped me to be a better support system to those around me now. That longing to be understood and loved is also why the phrase “The World Needs You Here” resonates with me so much. It tells me that, unlike the lie I believed as a child, my voice, my story, and my existence matter in this world. And it reminds me how important it is to tell the people in my life that I need them here, their loved ones need them here, and the world needs them here. To the person reading this, your voice, your story, and your existence are important. Never forget how worthy you are.
If I could leave you with one message, I would want all of you to know, and to believe, that “The World Needs You Here.” Hearing these five simple words would’ve made all the difference for me as a child, and I hope it makes a difference for you.