Montana is currently the state that holds the third highest suicide rate in the nation. When we as a society try to reason with why the suicide rate is so high, we immediately think of the drug problem or the long and gloomy winters or even post traumatic stress disorder. However, it seems as though we are spending more time trying to figure out what is causing the epidemic rather than constructively trying to combat the problem. I am by no means a psychologist or a doctor but rather, I am a person who is just like you. I have been faced with the hardships of rejection, finances, failure, and illness. But my life still goes on, because I learned early on in life that there are three keys that open the door to happiness and success.
First key: vision. The learning process for happiness and success began with me battling anxiety and depression during the fourth grade. My teacher told me that I failed each subject and urged my parents to hold me back because there was no chance I could pass summer school. I spent that summer in classrooms and reading learning centers in order to learn what I had failed. I was able to pass summer school and moved onto the fifth grade because I envisioned what I would look like in twenty years. I saw myself being an officer in the United States Army. This has been my goal since I was ten years old and every time I wake up, every time I go to bed, every time I face a challenge I envision what I am dedicating my life towards. During the summer of my fourth grade year I wrote out my goals on a piece of paper which included my long term goal of being an officer in the Army and a short term goal of going onto the fifth grade. Each goal is realistic and what I truly wanted. Since that time, each year I write out my short term and long term goals on a piece of paper and place it on a wall in my room. Now, each time I leave or enter the room, go to bed, wake up, and studying I look at that piece of paper and think of what I can do today to work towards accomplishing those goals. Sight is a very special gift, but being able to see yourself in the future is something no one can take away from you. Envision what you truly desire to become and you will find happiness and success.
Second key: faith. I do not mean faith in religion, even though faith in a higher being may increase mental health. I mean that you must have faith in yourself. This is one of the hardest keys to master in order to be happy and successful because every day we are told that we can’t do something or we face rejection or we fail in some way. I first learned to have faith in myself during my senior year of high school. After many years of working towards receiving the national scholarship for the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), I had been rejected. The reason I was rejected was because I had an SAT score of 1310 and an ACT score of 20. These scores are well below the national average and I was beginning to think I was not smart enough for college or to be an officer in the Army. However, I had a vision to be an officer and all I needed was faith that I could accomplish that goal. Aristotle’s philosophy to personal faith is used by the word, entelechy, which is defined as the moment one realizes they have potential. Soon after I received the rejection letter, I also found entelechy. I was determined to go to college and become an officer, even if I didn’t get the national Army ROTC scholarship, so by the end of my senior year I applied to nearly forty scholarship applications including one that offered a full ride scholarship. Before graduating high school I was humbled to be offered that full ride scholarship and attend Montana State University and pursue a career as an officer in the Army. You have more potential than you can even fathom all you need is faith in yourself and you will find happiness and success.
Third key: resiliency. Life is tough, we all have experienced our own demons and challenges but what you cannot do is quit. It’s during these dark moments that we develop our greatest traits and become stronger mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Many of the hardships we face may not be because of obesity, finances, or addiction but rather something we can’t control. Half way through my sophomore year of college the doctors noticed that I had bleeding in my intestines and discovered that I had been genetically predisposed to an autoimmune disease. The symptoms made it difficult for me to study while taking rigorous classes, prevented me from going to the gym, and medically revoked me from a month long Army training exercise in the Czech Republic. My ROTC cadre even told me the disease has potential to medically disqualify me from having the future career I have wanted since I was in the fourth grade. This was a challenge I had never faced before. I had been able to knock down every wall that had hindered me from accomplishing my goals but now this wall was knocking me down and I felt terribly hopeless and depressed. My medication was not working and I had no control over the disease, but there was still one thing in my life I could control: my academics. For the duration of the semester I tried to eat as healthy as possible in order to stop the painful symptoms so that I could study. It seemed to work well enough for me to study hard and finish the semester with a 4.0 GPA adding to my cumulative GPA of 3.94. Now, I have found medication that has calmed the symptoms down enough for me to go to the gym, fish, and work. Some battles you can’t win, but that does not mean you quit. You wake up each morning and conquer the obstacles that you can control. Dark times will come in your life but you must have resiliency to never quit and you will be significantly happier and more successful.
Although you may face challenges every day of your life, these three keys will lay the foundation for you to conquer the challenges you come across. Wake up each morning and look into the future and see where you want to be in the short term and the long term, but when you go to bed reflect on what you did that day to accomplish those goals. Once you envision your life, begin to realize that you have potential to accomplish anything you set forth for yourself; all you need is a little faith. However, along the road you are traveling you will face many bumps, mountains, detours, and construction that will make it seem like it is not worth the pain, but you cannot quit. You must have resiliency and patience to continue down that road because at the end of all the pain, the reward is worth it. Happiness and success have never been easy to obtain, but that challenge adds to the joy of life. If we as a society come together to make environments of active living, we may be able to increase mental health in those who are affected by depression.