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An Open Letter to the Other 47

Life can be really funny sometimes. When you think about all the random events that you’ve experienced in life, they blend together in these small, insignificant moments. But, if you take a moment to reflect on the big picture, all those random moments fit together and create this incredible mosaic. Little pieces that didn’t make sense broken or separate, yet work together to create something breathtakingly beautiful. Something that is more than the sum of its parts. Or maybe I have just become soft in my older age. It’s probably a little bit of both.

When I started with my undergrad, I wanted to study Journalism. Truth be told, I wanted to be a writer. After my first semester, I decided that I wanted a career that would make me money instead. So, here I am, 12 years later, working in mental health with a social work/non-profit background. Oh, the irony. So, when I was asked to help create this blog, I laughed in spite of myself. Like I said earlier, random moments will always find a way to fit. But, this story isn’t about being a writer or the fun memories I have from college. It’s about 47 random strangers. 47 people who frequent my thoughts. 47 people who I have never met. I have never seen their faces. I would not recognize them at a grocery store. I don’t even know their names. Yet, they left a lasting imprint on my heart and influenced the future I hope to mold.

In 2019, I was in a dark place. I’m not sure what’s darker than dark, but that’s the realm in which I existed. I was going through the motions of what I instinctively knew that I needed to in order to survive. No more, no less. There was one day, in particular, that was harder than the previous days before it. There wasn’t anything special about that day. Honestly, it was just another Tuesday. But, this particular Tuesday, I could feel the strings begin to unravel. It’s a weird place to be in, where you know you don’t want to die, but you can’t find the will to live. As the day progressed, the intrusive thoughts were beginning to win the war against my voice of reason. Eventually, I caved. I recognized I needed someone. Someone to tell me it was going to be okay. Someone to tell me tomorrow was going to be better. I needed someone who wouldn’t judge me. Someone who wouldn’t fault me. Someone who wouldn’t say “other people have it worse”, “look at all you have to be grateful for” or “think of your family”. I already knew all of that, but it didn’t make the sadness suddenly wash away. If anything, it intensified the guilt for all I was feeling. When I finally found the courage to contact the suicide hotline, I received an automated message that said “You are 48th in line. Please continue to hold.” I was not suddenly given the answers I needed or provided a shiny new toolbox full of coping skills. I was burdened with the idea that I was 1 of 48 who were actively drowning and the lifeboats were not within reach.

Now, this isn’t a dig to the hotline by any means. I have nothing but the utmost respect for the work that they do. But, there was something about that Tuesday, at 8:42PM, where 47 other people were also teetering on a dangerous line, hoping someone would pull them back over. What struck me hard was the realization I had others I could call. I didn’t know how many of those 47 had another lifeline to contact. I ended up calling a friend. I didn’t tell her I was struggling. I didn’t tell her the light inside me was so dim, I was afraid it was going to extinguish at any moment. I just said “Hi! I miss you. Tell me about your day.” We spoke for 20 minutes or so. She helped me make it through the night. Who knows if she knew what I was actually thinking. If somehow, she could hear all the thoughts that were practically begging to come out. If she could feel all of my pain, my hurt, my sadness through the phone. She never said. I never told her. That’s the big, scary thing about depression. We don’t always get to see it on the outside. Sometimes, we miss the signs. Sometimes, the signs we’ve been conditioned to look for, don’t actually exist. And then sometimes, probably more than we realize, we are someone’s reason for staying even if they never said it out loud.

I would love to tell you that after that day, I was magically better. That I woke up that Wednesday and the world was suddenly bright again. But, that would be a lie. Healing is not an easy journey and it’s definitely not a pretty one. There is so much ugly, vulnerability and pain that comes with healing yourself. Sometimes, we end up discovering that we were the villain in someone else’s story. Even worse, sometimes we end up being the villain in our own. Happy endings don’t always materialize and good days don’t always happen. There are days that are just “okay”. Sometimes, they are less than that. And then, there are great days! Days where life is effortless. Those are the days that we hold onto until we come across another great day. We repeat that cycle over and over again until, suddenly, you look at a calendar and realize it’s been months since your last bad day. Healing is not linear. Very few things in life are. It’s okay to feel the ebb and flow of it all. It’s okay to just be the little bobber, floating on the water. Speaking from experience though, the view from above the water is worth it.

There are moments I wish I could go back and hug my former 20 something year old self. I wish I could tell her to show herself grace, patience and kindness. I would promise her that her 30 year old self is everything she wanted it to be. I would tell her that she finally hits a point where she is thriving and not just surviving. I would tell her that there are going to be dark days ahead, but the days get easier and her breathing becomes lighter. I would thank her for all the sacrifices she made, so that I got to be the best version of us. I would tell her that she finally ends up being the mother our daughter deserved, the daughter who makes our mother proud and the wife that our husband needed. I also wish that I knew, for a fact, that all 47 people ahead of me made it that Wednesday and then the next one and so forth. I wish I could tell them that they matter to me, a stranger they’ve never met. I wish I could tell them that I think of them often and that they deserve all the peace and love in the world. I wish I could remind them that although the world can be so dark and harsh, it can also be so beautiful and warm. I would tell them that they have someone who loves them and that they are so grateful that they are still here. But, since I can’t tell them that, I will tell you all that. I see you. I am so proud of you. I am so happy that you are here.

Kelcee Sitzes, M.S. is a graduate student studying Clinical Mental Health Counseling with an emphasis in Substance Abuse Disorders. She is employed with Counseling Associates as a Forensics QBHP/Mental Health Liaison and Care Coordinator. She is a wife, girl mom and a plant enthusiast.

If you need help or might need help, please reach out at:

Crisis Line: 988

Text to Chat Crisis Line: 988 (pretty cool new feature)

Arkansas Crisis Center:

Trevor Project: 1-888-488-7386

Trevor Project Text to Chat Crisis Line: 678678

AFSP Arkansas Chapter:

Arkansas Suicide Prevention Resource Center:



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