Bekah Miles is a normal college student at George Fox University on the outside. Inside, she is battling depression, which she was diagnosed with a year ago. Instead of keeping her mental condition an inner struggle, Bekah decided to do something to start a conversation about depression. Last week, she got inked with a heartfelt tattoo that says “I’m fine” to anyone looking at it, but from her perspective, upside down, it says “save me.”
The 20-year-old came out about her battle on Facebook, posting photos of the tattoo alongside an open letter to her parents, explaining why she had the tattoo done.
(Dear mom and dad, please don’t kill me over this permanent choice. I want you to hear me out.)
Today, I am coming out with something that only few of you know. I am ready to have a conversation about my mental illness.
Last year, I was diagnosed with depression. And in all honesty, I believe it was a problem for quite a while before that, but I think it just got worse to the point of hardly functioning.
So today, I got this tattoo. I feel that my leg was the best place for the meaning behind it. When everyone else sees it, they see “I’m fine,” but from my viewpoint, it reads “save me.” To me, it means that others see this person that seems okay, but, in reality, is not okay at all. It reminds me that people who may appear happy, may be at battle with themselves.
To me, depression is the days that I feel sad for no reason.
Depression is the mornings that I don’t feel capable of getting out of bed.
Depression is the sleeping too much, or sleeping too little.
Depression is the homework that I never completed, simply because I didn’t feel like I was capable.
Depression is the break downs I have over absolutely nothing.
Depression is the eating too much, or eating too little.
Depression is the nights I begin to cry because I feel so overwhelmed, even though everything is going right.
Depression is the 50 pounds I carry in my chest at all times.
Depression is the need to constantly be distracted (being on social media, playing video games, watching movies or shows, or working all the time) because I can’t trust myself with my thoughts for longer than 3 minutes.
Depression is the friendships that have suffered because of my inability to function.
Depression is the hurtful thoughts and actions I have towards myself.
Depression is the tears I have because I don’t know why I feel so worthless, when I know I should feel happy.
This is one of the most difficult things to open up about because it’s extremely hard for me to feel vulnerable…but this needs to be talked about. Mental illness is serious, but so shamed in our society. We care so much for our physical health, but hardly a thing about our mental state. And that is seriously messed up. Mental illness is not a choice and will likely hit everyone at some point in their life. If it’s such a huge issue, why aren’t we having this conversation about it?
That’s why I got this tattoo; they are great conversation starters. This forces me to talk about my own struggle, and why the awareness of it is important. You’d be surprised by how many people YOU know that struggle with depression, anxiety, or other mental illness. I may only be one person, but one can save another…and that’s all I could really ask for.
Maybe this is part of why I am so interested in psychology. I want to help people who feel the way I have—and still do—because it’s hell. And I don’t wish that upon anyone.
“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.”
**Also, THANK YOU to the ones who have helped me in this battle. I would not be where I am without you.**
Since posting the picture to her Facebook last Sunday, the post gained over 345,300 likes and around 289,300 shares as I write this. The comments – over 32,000 — have been overwhelmingly supportive of Bekah.
Bekah followed up with a second post, in response to the positive messages she received.
I never expected it to go beyond my friends and family. I thought reaching out to them was enough, but I am completely and utterly in awe of how far this has traveled.
This is exactly what I wanted–to reach out to people and let them know that they are not alone. Clearly, 24,000 people and counting feel the exact same way. Please keep sharing and spreading the awareness. This is the only way to get some real change in the stigma. If you want to share it other places like tumblr, twitter, instagram, etc., go for it. I posted it on twitter (@bekahmiles), tumblr (evicted-minds), and instagram (@bekahmiles).
Please, please, please don’t stop the conversation. It needs to keep going.
Snaps to Bekah for getting conversation about such a serious condition going. If you or someone you know suffers from depression, the National Network of Depression Centers can be a good resource for help.