Everyone walks around with their head held up high with a smile on their face, acting like they are wonderful, and that this life is amazing. Whenever people see them around, they seem so happy that others get jealous and want to be like them. People assume that they have a tremendous life and that everything is perfect. Everyone acts like that, to be honest. They put on an act to hide their true selves, and they try to trick people to make them think that they are fine, but when we go home, we lock ourselves in the bathroom, drop to the floor and burst into tears. 

    Those, ladies and gentlemen, are called masks. We can do a lot with masks. For example, if we have a situation going on at home or we have personal things that we are facing, we can put our masks on top of our face and make it seem like nothing is wrong. This all ties up to something called a shadow. This shadow follows us around. The only person that can see this shadow is us. We know that every person has a shadow, but we choose to not acknowledge it. The only shadow that we acknowledge is our own because we bring it around everywhere we go. The shadow changes anything it wants. It makes sure we do not think straight or makes us seem that whatever we do or touch is a mistake. This shadow brings us down to the floor. It beats us up inside and plays with our emotions like a string puppet. Some people have this shadow with them for a little while others, for as long as they can remember. 

    I have had this shadow with me since I was 13. The shadow that I have is depression and anxiety. Everyone has different kinds of shadows with them. It can be depression, anxiety, shyness, insecurities and many more things. It follows me around the school. It handcuffs my hands and throws away the keys so that I can’t break free. 

    The shadow told me to sign a contract saying that it can change my mood whenever it wants to and can lock me in a jail cell to see how I scream and yell for help but not a single word comes out of my mouth. It also mentioned that I have to give up my happiness for its pleasure and that my personality would not be the same as before. The smile that I had would not be there as much, and if it was, it would be a fake smile to act like I am fine so no one would ask me what is wrong.  I looked at the contract for a bit, and I saw that my life would change completely if I signed it. I turned around to look at the shadow deeply in its eyes and then started to walk away. As I was trying to walk away, the shadow grabbed my shoulder, spun me around and pinned me to the table next to the contract. It told me “I never said if you wanted to. I said to sign the contract!” Its voice scared me so much I felt a teardrop falling on my cheek. So I did what it told me to, I picked up the pen, and I signed it. Ever since then, it likes to control my life as if it was their life. My thoughts change when the shadow comes around. When I think I am fine, the shadow decides my mood in a heartbeat. I can never be content with anything I do. The shadow lives within every single one of us. Believe it or not, it will come crawling above the surface sooner or later. Most people will pick up the same pen and sign the same contract that the shadow told me to sign, whether they like it or not. 

    The shadow hovers above us like a heavy rainstorm. It covers our heads, and it makes our mood go from happy to sad in 2.5 seconds, if not less. Our thoughts start running around, and it makes us feel numb. It feels like it is blocking our airway. The shadow does so much to all of us. It does not just destroy our mood; it makes us fade away. It lets our pride get to us, and it makes us do things that will leave a scar and then apologize a day later for something that could have been handled before it happened. About 800,000 people die because of the shadow above us.  It does not have to be like that anymore. We can fight this shadow. It may seem scary at first but with help, we can eliminate this shadow. 

    Anyone who has the shadow with them struggles to find an escape. We feel like we are lonely and can not find someone to feel comfort or someone to talk to. As we see the days go by, the shadow turns our days darker and darker by the minute. It slowly closes our eyes and the minute we wake up, we are in a jail cell, handcuffed. We see the shadow outside from our cell watching us as we cry in the corner. It likes to see people breaking down and in pain. 

    All of us need to find a way to control the shadow and not let it control us. Sometimes the shadow overpowers us to the point that it numbs our body. We can get through this if we try. It may seem dark and scary to face, but with the help of people that love us, everything will be fine. The only way to get out of the darkness is to find the light. It may seem impossible at first but with time, we will find it. 

    I am not going to lie, I still have trouble finding the light sometimes. The journey is an emotional roller coaster. It is filled with ups and downs, twists and turns, but we will get through it. Understand that you do not have to deal with this alone. There are many people around you that care for you and want to help you, even if it does not seem like it at this very moment. If you need to speak to someone, talk to a trusted adult. Your counselors are here to help you through the situations that you are going through. If you don’t trust an adult, talk to a close friend of yours that you trust. If you ever feel like you are at your lowest point and you can’t take anything anymore, do not hesitate to call the suicide hotline. It doesn’t just prevent you from fading away; you can talk to professional people about what is going on in your life. They are here to make sure that a beautiful soul doesn’t fade away. If you ever someone to talk to at that very moment, the number to the hotline is 1-800-273-8255. Everything you talk about with the professional will be confidential and will not be shared with anyone. Another resource that can help you is the Community Health Suicide Prevention- Text “helpnow” to 20121. It may be dark right now but the light will come, just be patient.