I have been fighting a substantial list of mental disorders for twenty years, including Agoraphobia, Borderline Personality Disorder, Panic Attacks, Social Anxiety, etc. All of these ailments can be challenging, but for the most part, I've lived a normal life.

This year, however, I realized I had a recurring and life-threatening problem. I recognized a self-destructive pattern that has invaded and then retreated, inside my mind over the years, like the ebb of the tide. The real problem, the one I've been ignoring for two decades, has been suicide. Ever since the death of my parents, twenty years ago, I've been doing my best to ignore the quiet beckoning of the grave.

"They'd all be better off without you!"

"You're a burden to the people you love!"

I've always tried to maintain realistic perception, and it's not lost on me that many people suffer from problems far more severe than mine... problems that exist in the real world, not in their minds. Reminding myself of this can help, but only so much and for only so long. Eventually, I always come undone.

My, usually manageable, defects become unbearable, and I want to die. I'd been through this three times before, and knew if I survived this time, something would have to change. Each cycle has been worse than the one before, and I came closer than ever to death this year this year. I had to figure out why this kept happening and find a way to end it, or at least lessen its impact.

The first step was the hospital. I could no longer drive, work was impossible, and I seldom left my house anymore. I had lost over sixty pounds, and had cut myself over one hundred times... I was dying.
I couldn't sleep the night before I had myself committed. Pacing in my basement, I felt a need to scream, and could barely repress the primal urge. I caught a muffled version of all my frustration in my hands, as I pressed them hard, against my mouth.

I collapsed onto the floor with tears wetting my face and veins bulging in my neck.

I cried in the fetal position and started to question my ability to make it through the night. I tried to consider my options, but my thoughts were loud and chaotic like angry bees. I needed to cut myself, knowing the pain would anchor me to the planet, but I couldn't find my trusty razor.

I found a pen instead, neglected in the back of a drawer. I picked it up and held it... it grounded me. I ignored the intrusive, graphic vision I had of plunging the ballpoint into my upper thigh, and I started to write instead.

I've kept journals my whole life. My mother, an aspiring writer herself, encouraged me to do so at a young age. She had a passion for the written word that still inspires me today. I can easily consume three or four books a week and fill dozens of notebooks with journal entries, short stories, and bad poetry.

I even began writing novels on a few separate occasions, but never followed through. I was one of those guys with half-written manuscripts hiding in forgotten boxes. Life seemed to get in the way of my writing, at least that's what I told myself on the rare occasion I'd pull one of those fossils out, dust it off, and tell myself... "Someday."

I thought about these things when I picked up that pen in my basement, and a revelation washed over me. It was time to do something drastic. I'd never let my health go this far before. I'd never felt so dangerously close to the final curtain. My family was losing me quickly, and I knew I couldn't allow that to happen. I know how much they love me, in spite of the lies I'm prone to telling myself.

When I picked up that pen, in that moment of desperation, it was like the fog lifting off the mind of an amnesiac.

I filled an entire notebook during the week I was in the hospital and I noticed a change in the way I was writing. I'd always used my journals as a platform to get things off my chest, and justify my flaws, with a woe-is-me attitude. The "venting" approach helped get me through the cycles in the past, but did little to help me understand them, and nothing to help prevent them.

My pen became a scalpel this time, and with delicate precision, I performed surgery on my injured mind. I was perfectly honest with myself, spilling my guts for hours on end, in an attempt to find enlightenment. I was on to something. The more I wrote, the more I added to the arsenal that would bring my internal enemies to their knees.

I didn't resolve all my issues, but I've eliminated the temptation of the grave. It was a difficult journey, but with the support of my loved ones, I had saved my life through my writing.

Author's Bio: 

Nathan Daniels lives with psychological disorders including Agoraphobia, Borderline Personality Disorder, Insomnia, and OCD. Abused in his youth, orphaned and homeless as a teenager, he became self-abusive and suicidal as an adult. Against all odds he has survived, and now advocates for suicide prevention and awareness through his writing. His new book, Surviving the Fourth Cycle, is a uniquely-told true story about overcoming suicide, for anyone affected by the harsh realities of mental illness. For more information, visit...