55: Passing on the Sword

55: Passing on the Sword

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Time to Thrive

Passing on the Sword

The struggle you’re in today is developing the strength you need for tomorrow. Don’t give up.

~Robert Tew

Justin and I both had ADHD and severe depression. I felt like we were war buddies. He motivated me to fight for my mental health and I was finally starting to heal. I had my husband and my family for support, but they had no idea what was going on inside my head. Justin knew. I could trust his advice. I was not alone in my daily struggle for something close to normal. When he was proud of me, I was elated. He told me that I was a beautiful and talented woman despite my mental illness. We talked for hours about how we felt and how we could make each other’s day just a bit brighter, to keep the window of hope open.

The day I found out that he had shot himself, I wanted to follow in his footsteps and end it all. He was far stronger than I was and he had given up. I had lost my mentor, the only person who understood. The sickness had swallowed him. I gained back the weight I had lost and stopped cleaning the house. Nothing interested me except sleep and Internet videos. I no longer cared about myself or anything except keeping my husband happy and our pets alive.

There was going to be a memorial for Justin at a convention in Canada. The organizers asked those close to him to say something. I had six months to prepare, but it was not until the week before we left that I found the words. What I wanted to do was show that he did not die in vain. He had passed on the sword to a young girl who had to continue the battle, else she would fall too. The words that I wrote and eventually spoke in front of everyone have never left me since:

If the one I looked to for strength and guidance failed, how could I have any hope? The answer is because he showed me how and I would be dishonoring his memory if I didn’t keep trying. And so I do. I’m not going to let mental illness take both of us. For every successful productive day and every milestone, I flip a middle finger to ADHD and depression. Mental illness has not taken its last victim, but thanks in several parts to Justin, the next one will not be me.

I am starting to rebuild my life and making a serious effort to take back what I have lost over the years. The house is in better shape than it has been since we moved in. I am being more social and practicing my life skills. Hobbies have once again become a part of my life and I look forward to them at the end of a long workday. Pretty soon, the weight will start to come off and I might be able to volunteer at the animal shelter like I did years ago.

I wish Justin was around to teach me more, but there comes a time when I have to take the experience I have gained and become my own leader. He would be as proud of me as I am of myself.

~Sarah LM Klauda

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