A Survivor Looks Like...|Natalie Nyquist

A Survivor’s Story

For half of my twenties I crashed through depression, twelve psych wards, numerous rapes, two divorces, one abduction, and developing amnesia. The cumulative weight nearly shattered my mind and body.

Into the darkest days appeared a man I barely knew. Only a few days before he’d been in the ICU after attempting suicide. Now he looked me in the eye and I could feel the joy and life radiating off his body. He wanted to be alive. Getting another chance to live showed him how much he nearly threw away.

Being my self-appointed “Natalie, you must stay alive” evangelist, he told me that—despite my insistence on despair—he knew I wanted to live and still had hope. I went to elaborate lengths to convince him otherwise. But he knew me too well because he knew himself, and all who survive the dark place of choosing death can find their way around that part of another hurting soul.

Survivor Infographic Nyquist

Bottom line: If you and I just met, I don’t have the right to tell you anything. But if you have wounds and pain and memories and horror inside and feel there is no safe place to be heard and to heal, there are others who will listen. Survivors who speak your dialect of trauma and darkness. We’re everywhere, if we can connect and find each other.

Because of our past, staying alive is the hardest thing on earth. Sometimes the physical, emotional, and mental agony intensifies until nothing matters more than getting a pain-free breath. Self-injury, risk-taking, compulsive behaviors—the consequences of our scramble for relief barely register. Just make it stop.

When I say you’re not alone, I mean you belong to a community of survivors. Though each of us lived through different suffering, an invisible connection sparks when we meet another survivor. It’s intangible—impossible to put into words—but powerful.