The word “invictus,” by definition, is a Latin adjective, meaning “unconquered, unsubdued, and invincible.” There is a poem, written by William Ernest Henley, which goes by this same name. It has been a guide in my life for many years now and has been one of the most influential pieces of poetry that I have ever come across. So much so, I have the word permanently inked into my skin.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
Let’s get real candid for a second. I have struggled for many years with my mental health. I don’t say that lightly either. I have truly suffered, alone for the most part. I didn’t like to talk about it much early on. I thought I could do it on my own, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. I once told myself that I was never going to find success, that all my failures have defined me as a person, and that I was just going to have to settle for whatever was handed to me. That mentality tore me down, so badly that I didn’t think I’d ever bounce back from it. I was ready to throw in the towel, ready to give it all up. But then I fell in love. I fell so deeply in love, and it completely turned my life around. I’d had friends who helped keep my head above water, but it never felt like quite enough at times. But even in all that darkness, I found light, and even more than that, I found love. And I never let the darkness consume me completely. And for that I am forever grateful.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
In all that darkness, my biggest enemy was myself. I never knew how to cope with the feelings that I hid for so long. It’s taken me many, many years to even express how low I felt. But thanks to some very close friends, family, and especially my boyfriend, I’ve found myself a new appreciation for life & what I want to accomplish in the next few years. I want to finish college, excel in my career and, God willing, start a family someday. Without the guidance of God & my amazing boyfriend, I know I wouldn’t have been able to type this today & tell you my story.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.
And after all the darkness passed, I decided to find a new outlet for my pain, anger, and guilt. So I wrote. But that wasn’t something I was able to keep up with. So then I started walking. And man, that was so good for me. Being able to feel the air in my face and just be one with the world outside, it fueled something in me. I become obsessed with watching the sunset, it was something I looked forward to every evening. And after that, I’d watch the stars. It was calming, peaceful. And suddenly, my problems didn’t mean so much anymore. They were so minuscule compared to this beautiful world I was just learning to appreciate.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.
And so, walking turned to jogging. Jogging turned into, “hey let me try a 5K.” And then, one 5K turned into six over 2 years, which I know isn’t much, but for me, every finish line I crossed was just an overwhelming feeling of emotion because I was doing something I never imagined possible. Heck, 6 or 7 years ago, I wouldn’t even have thought I’d make it this far. And now, I’m enrolled at a gym, trying new workouts, hyping other people up, just living my best life. And that’s what it’s all about. It’s all about just living for today, not worrying about what’s passed. The key is to keep looking forward, straight ahead. Whatever ails you, it will pass. It may pass like a freaking kidney stone, but it will pass.
If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/