It was the year 2015 and I was 21 years old feeling like my time on earth was no longer needed and I was no longer wanted. On top of that I was dealing with severe - some may call it major depression since 2010 and it had taken a toll on me not only mentally but physically and emotionally. I felt suffering like no other while still feeling completely empty and vacant. It was hell. Depression is hell.
I couldn't take it anymore.
The thoughts were getting worse and there was no escape to what depression was telling me and how it made me feel. I didn't want to continue on feeling this way. Feeling helpless, weak, crazy, ashamed, unworthy and unlovable. I started to hate myself and the person I had become. I was a wreck, a mess - a disaster waiting to happen. It was only time until the hurricane would appear. And when it did.. when I had that breakdown once again, no longer did I want to fight back. No longer did I want to live. I wanted to die at that moment.
No one would care.
I would be free.
Free from this illness that drained every ounce of joy and happiness I had left in me.
Fast forward. I soon found myself drinking and drinking until I got drunk.
Now I'm drunk. Really drunk.
I forgot to mention it's late at night and it's around 1am on Monday.
I get up. Put on some clothes and head toward the railroad tracks nearby. About 20 minutes later or so - maybe longer I find myself laying next to the tracks.
Hoping for a train to come from any direction to hit me.
Suddenly bright lights began to appear. I get up.
This is it. This is the moment to end it all.
Or is it?
In that quick second I decided this wasn't going to be the end. My story wasn't going to be over.
I'm going to live.
I lived on.
1 year later - I began hiking. I started liking it. Found myself using that as an coping mechanism and a way to fight depression,
anxiety and my suicidal thoughts whenever they came back into play. I
had the courage to wake up and get out of bed and do something brave,
empowering and something that freed me from what I felt had been
controlling me and did something (hiking) that left me feeling rewarded
and stronger than ever. I believe being in the outdoors and hiking has
that effect on people as well, not only me.
So why not do something about it?
I rebranded Free + Above, a movement I founded in 2013 and turned it into a movement that encourages anyone dealing with mental illness, addiction, suicidal thoughts, insecurity and survivors of sexual abuse to hike for their freedom. To grow and find peace, healing and empowerment through nature. If not hiking then exploring or wandering. Just being outdoors.
I hope. I wish. I pray.
You don't give up on you and this wonderful thing called life. Keep writing your story and fighting for your freedom, your happiness and rising above your struggles. It's possible to learn how to fly again. Broken wings and brokeness have nothing on what strength lies from within you.
So go ahead, be brave.
Take a step forward and never look back.
Freedom awaits you.
Tony Cox Jr,