I have had high functioning depression for the vast majority of my life. I am only going to discuss the most recent battle in the war I have lived. First weeks of August 2016 I was placed in medical leave for a broken bone in my foot. Forced onto bed rest and losing my support system in the early part of the year. I stayed trapped inside the walls of my apartment falling deeper into darkness. Testing methods of suicide that I could actually fulfill to completion.

September 18th Someone took a moment to take notice of me. I didn’t want to accept their attention but they didn’t give up. They continued to give me moments of their time showing genuine concern and support. Once I finally allowed myself to open up I started to see a light in the darkness, a way out.

One smile has turned into thousands. I have now reached out to people who have been close to me for help and I know I will not end up being homeless and they have helped me get food so I will not go will not go another day without eating. Now to the reason I am started the gofundme for myself is to help me get back on my feet both literally and figuratively. I want to get back to work and be able to support myself again but I am not going to be their fighting through this on my own. I do need help continuing on with the treatment for my foot but also and more importantly in the long run my own personal mental health. Above all I hope that my story will bring more attention to those people you see every day that may have a dark random thought telling them lies stemming from the illness of depression in any form. You may not realize it but it can be your next door neighbor. Your mailman. The barista who makes you your morning coffee. The cashier ringing out your groceries. Your boss. Your coworker. Your clergymen. Your child or parent. Mental health problems do not care who or what you are. It attacks everyone no matter the color of your skin. Your socio-economic background. Gender or sexual preference. Not one human being is immune. If that person is you then I hope you can get the courage to share your story to at least one person. There are people who love you no matter what. You just have to be willing enough to accept it. A semicolon is a place where an author can end a sentence and stop the story but they chose to keep it going. Your story does not have to end here ;

I still ask that the word be spread to take notice of your fellow human beings. Just a smile and hello to a person you pass on the street can brighten their day.

There are studies that suggest over 70% of Americans today suffer from a form of depression. Most of which are classified as high functioning. Which means they can do their jobs. Raise their families. Go completely unnoticed by everyone else. Sometimes it is situational and tied to tragic events such as the passing of a loved one. I lost my mother to COPD in march of this year. Other times it is clinical as is my case. A chemical imbalance that triggers automatic thoughts of negativity. I have gone through treatments and continue to learn coping mechanisms. And I will keep on going. I have a promise now that I can not allow to be broken. A reason to go on.

You must find your reason. Their is one for everybody out there. What that reason is individual to you. You can not be told what it is. But when you find it you will know what the reason is. I swear it. For some it will be the love of others. Some men may need to open up that they love other men or even deep inside identify as a woman. Some women may need to step out of the abuse and challenge their oppresser. An artist may need to discover their muse and never let it go. A parent may need to know they can care for and raise their child. A CEO may need to know that their choices will effect everyone in the company they oversee.

For those of you that are struggling in the darkness I beseech you to look towards the light. Do not give in. Sometimes you have to take it upon yourself to seek community. If not through a religious organization then perhaps a book club at your local library or an event put together by the local park district. There are people who care and love you. At least one person needs you in their life. You are never truly alone unless you make yourself that way. I myself am going to go in and find new avenues. I have never been one much for twitter until I signed up and found hundreds of organizations and individuals who are out there with their own problems and battles. Many of which are still on their road to recovery to this day. Each and every one of them with their own story and reason to go on. They just like me want to let you know that there is help out there. So please, keep your story going ;

Now I am feeling fantastic for the most part. I still struggle with automatic negative thoughts and will for my whole life. But I can now fight and disprove those ideas. Please write down and use the STOPP method in my photo. It has helped me especially when anxiety strikes high. I hope it will help you. I am not alone in my story as I once thought. Neither is anyone else. I am now sharing my “Story will not end here ;” personal campaign with the world I hope it will inspire at least one person to take a moment for someone else. Remember, it only takes a moment to save a life.

IMG_08061Born and raised in the greater Chicagoland area as I remain to this day. I work for a major retailer as a department manager for a specific location. I have one child. Honestly just a simple man who is trying to help others in their struggles. I have never experienced a moment of direct major abuse but I have been victimized in that I have been verbally attacked about my obesity and lesser things. I don’t know your story but I will offer you an ear. If you are reading this and need help from someone who has been buried deep in the darkness please reach out to me directly through twitter. I will not judge or share any of what you tell me. I just want to help save a life as someone did for me. Your story does not have to end ;

Joe can be found on Facebook and Twitter. Joe also has a GoFundMe page.