From Kevin Hines
More than anything I will express in this letter, I want you to remember this: cherish every day. Babatunde Olatunji once famously said-“Yesterday is history, tomorrow’s a mystery, today is a gift, that is why they call it the present.” I say this because in September of the year 2000 when I was nineteen years old, I attempted to end my life by suicide by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. At the time, I believed I had to die-- and those thoughts were one of the many symptoms of my particular type of brain disease: bipolar disorder.
I am amazed that there are so many people, even today, who do not believe that mental illnesses exist. Maybe you know some of those people. Maybe they are your family, or your friends. And maybe they say that your feelings of sadness, anxiety, fear and even of suicide are not real.
However, I can tell you that they are real. Very real. After all, over 26.2 percent of the people in America every year are diagnosed with some sort of mental disorder every year-- that is one in four, or, over fifty million people! And if that is not “real” enough, did you know that over 1 million lose their lives every year to suicide?
I believe in your pain because I have lived it. But I also believe that you-- like me-- can live mentally well. 80-90% of those with a mental illness who seek treatment and follow it learn to live mentally well. It isn’t going to be easy-- but trust me when I say it will be worth it.
For me, I began to follow a very specific treatment plan of talk therapy, education on my disorder, medication, proper sleep cycle and routine exercise. I also became a mental health advocate and a professional public speaker because helping others by telling my story is a part of my healing process, too. I urge you to seek out therapies and to find ones that works for you.
I write this letter for each and every one of you: for those who have lost someone to suicide, or to those who suffer from a mental illness. Always remember that there is hope, there is a future. And there is nothing more beautiful than today because you are alive.