“Have you ever saved someone’s life?”

Yes. My own.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. To participate, I’d like to share a little of my story, in hopes it will help someone else.

I survived trauma, neglect, and abuse—both emotional and psychological—from early childhood until I was twenty-six years old. I wasn’t in foster care, like Bailey, the main character in my books. But it’s dawned on me that, with only light edits, my life could have been very similar.

It certainly wasn’t any brighter. The last three years that I lived with my abusers, I talked myself out of suicide every day.

I wish I knew what the “silver bullet” was that kept me from acting on those thoughts. The truth is that, every day, I was lucky enough to find a reason that was barely good enough to keep living.

Eventually, I let go of the need to please my abusers and stepped out on my own. There were many, many people who helped along the way—and I’m grateful to all of them.

The shadows linger. I’m sure they always will. But I just pin them down to the wrestling mat, and turn them into stories, and keep leaning on the good people in my life.

Like I said, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. If you’re struggling—with anything—the first and best step I can recommend is to talk with someone you trust.

That’s what I did. Just hearing someone say, “That’s not the way life is supposed to be,” proved life-changing.

Try it. Talk about the things you’re ashamed to voice. Because it turns out, the shadows can only flourish in the darkness. Given just a glimmer of light, they run away.

Happy Sailing,

~ Danielle

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