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Photo taken by first-time contributor Teaque McLaren, who was diagnosed with major depression at the age of 16. Teaque is now 25-years-old, and a year ago found the strength to come out as a female-to-male transgender individual. He is a musician currently living in Maryland who takes his experiences with depression, self-harm, rejection, and discrimination and channels them into his song writing. Even though it hasn’t even been a year since starting hormone replacement therapy, Teaque has managed to work his way down to being off all of his anti-depressants and overcome his struggle with self-harm. Using his music, Teaque tries to bring hope to those who don’t have faith, peace to those who cannot find rest, and love to all those who feel unwanted. He has felt the pain of losing his best friend to suicide in 2011, and hopes that one day no parent, child, or friend will ever have to feel that kind of loss again.
About this photo: “This self-portrait was taken on Salisbury Beach in New Hampshire, summer of 2007. As a person who has dealt with depression, self-harm, and suicide attempts over the past 9 years of my life, something I’ve found that doesn’t really help a lot when people find out you’re struggling with thoughts of hurting yourself is them telling you to do things like, “oh no don’t do that,” “just think of the positive things in life,” or “get help, NOW.” I know they think they’re helping, but when a person is in a state where they’re seriously considering harming themselves, trying to tell them what to do isn’t going to do much of anything. Or, if anything, it’ll make them feel worse because they want to stop so badly, but they don’t know how. When they’re in that state there are no filters to emotions, there is no logic behind what they’re feeling. Asking them why they feel that way is just going to frustrate them because they DON’T know why. It’s a giant rush of all these different emotions that are coming at them so fast there’s no way to sift through it all and find the root and be like, “oh, this is why I was feeling down, let me just change that.”
I know that you just want to help, but if you don’t understand where they are or how they feel, then the best course of action is to contact the proper authorities. Even if it means that they might disown you as a friend. It’s their LIFE on the line, not your pride, not your desire to be the person who talked them out of hurting themselves. If you can’t handle the situation, then find someone who can. That is how you can be a true friend.
If you can’t get a hold of someone right away, or if there is a delay before they can assist, instead of just telling them not to do something, try letting them know that you believe in them. You believe that they can hold on and resist, and you know that they’re so strong and that they can make it through. A quote I once read from a book put into words the strength of the desire to self-harm in a way that said it better than I could ever hope to. A woman was describing her plans for the future about how she would like to have a family of her own one day, “But,” she said, “right now, my goal is just make it five more minutes … then five more.” Sometimes that’s all they’re going to be able to do, and you have to support them in that.
I know for me personally, while it’s been a long hard road and I’ve lost friends along the way because of it, I wouldn’t change my past for anything. I wouldn’t take away these scars because that would change who I am, and I’m proud of whom I’ve become because of them. I wouldn’t be as strong as I am today; I wouldn’t have the confidence that I have now in myself that I can do anything I put my mind to had I not gone through those years. I know I still have a long way to go, but each day is a new page, and if I can help even one person understand better, or help one person realize that they’re not alone…then why stop at one?”
Find more from Teaque on his Facebook.
Broken Light Collective provides peer support, not medical or psychiatric advice. If you or someone you know may be a danger to him or her self or others please contact a doctor or mental health professional immediately. If the situation is urgent, you can call a crisis helpline such as 1-800-273-TALK or go directly to an emergency room.