‘My husband was working in a prison. He worked A LOT. ‘I didn’t get married to be alone all the time,’ I thought. I texted him. ‘I wouldn’t really care if I didn’t wake up in the morning.’

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“The first memory I have as a child is sitting in a U-Haul truck with my dad and siblings driving away from our house, I was around 5 years old at the time. I would eventually come to the realization that my parents were getting a divorce. We moved to a neighboring state to live with my Grandparents. I was a very shy girl growing up, like so shy that I would have to go to special classes to find out why I would never talk to anyone. I only talked to my family and a handful of friends. Nothing was wrong with me, I was just terrified of people. I was scared that I would say something wrong or be laughed at.

Courtesy of Courtney Gocke

My other siblings are quite a bit older than me so I was alone a lot during my childhood. I spent a lot of time in my room. It was my favorite place to be and it’s where I felt the most safe. I also spent a lot of time hanging out with my closest friends.

After I graduated high school in 2009 my plan was to start photography classes at a community college in the fall. I met a new boy off Facebook who was from around my hometown, and we started to date. It was a horrible relationship. He was big into drugs and alcohol and that summer I drank almost every night until I passed out. I didn’t do any drugs though, so I pride myself on that. I think this was a relationship where I started to feel my self-worth go away. Basically, I just felt like a blob of skin with no feelings. I didn’t feel like a person, I just felt like an object at that point. I was constantly talked down to and things he got physical with me once. It didn’t take me long to get out of that one.

Jacobs Photographic Harlan, IA.

Here I was at 18 living in the city by myself and going to college. Then one night I was talking to one of my childhood friends about guys and she was like, ‘Hey, you should talk to this guy, he’s super nice.’ So of course I started talking to him. We were always texting back and forth and chatting on MSN messenger. We went on a blind date with some mutual friends and we hit it off instantly. He was the complete opposite of my previous relationship. He was such a gentleman and treated me like a queen.

Courtesy of Courtney Gocke

Fast forward five years, we were married, and loving life together. So much, in fact, that I gained about 80 pounds. We went out to eat SO much, it was our favorite thing to do.

This is where my self-confidence became nonexistent and my depression blew up. I just remember looking in the mirror crying, multiple times per day, every day.

Courtesy of Courtney Gocke
KS Photography in Exeter, NE

At age 25 my husband was working in a prison, and he worked a lot. We were on completely opposite shifts and only saw each other for a little bit on Saturdays. I remember thinking, ‘I didn’t get married to be alone all the time.’ I started to get really lonely, which caused me to turn to food. I could have easily called up some of my friends to hang out, but my weight gain made me want to do absolutely nothing. All I wanted to do was the worst thing for me, eat. Food was always a comfort for me.

One day I texted him and said, ‘I wouldn’t really care if I didn’t wake up in the morning.’ I didn’t really think it was a huge deal, because it’s not like I said I wanted to kill myself. Well, my husband took it very hard and came home from work immediately. We sat down, he looked at me and said, ‘Do you realize what that would do to me? To your family? And to your friends?’ Honestly, I never thought how it would affect other people.

Courtesy of Courtney Gocke

A few months went by, my husband got a new job so we could see each other more and things were going pretty well. Until one day, I just randomly got extremely depressed. My husband left for work and I started thinking to myself, ‘You’re fat, you’re ugly, no one loves you, you can’t do anything right, you aren’t going anywhere in life.’ The thoughts started pouring in. I grabbed my keys, hugged my cat, got in my car, and started driving down the highway. This was it, this was the day I was going to commit suicide. My plan was to ram my car into one of those cement pillars in the median under an overpass.

Courtesy of Courtney Gocke

Then all of a sudden, I heard my husband’s voice. ‘Do you realize what that would do to me? To your family? And to your friends?’ I pulled over. I cried. A lot. Then I pulled myself together, and drove home. Over the next few years, I would think about suicide more than I wanted to. One night my husband heard the sound of a pill bottle and caught me with a handful of pills. Another night I sat on the shower floor for THREE hours contemplating hanging myself.

One day I was just sick of feeling sad all the time. It was the day I left my most recent job. I thought, ‘I have let depression take over my life,’ and I finally came to the mindset that enough was enough. I was missing out on social events, career advancements, family events, hanging out with friends, basically everything. I realized I didn’t want to spend my entire life inside my house.

I started to think more positively. Recently I have been reading more, working out, fueling my body with more nutritious foods, and it has made me have a whole new outlook on life. My goal is to lose 100 pounds. So far I have lost 25. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m headed in the right direction!

Courtesy of Courtney Gocke
Courtesy of Courtney Gocke

To cope, I love sharing my story on my blog, Instagram, and YouTube. I don’t have a lot of followers, but I do get messages from complete strangers telling me that I helped them in some way, and that to me, is all that matters. I believe my sole purpose in life is to help others and spread awareness. Please know if you are struggling with mental health, you are not alone. It will get better, I promise. Life just flat out sucks at times, but hang in there.

Take it one day at a time, do your best, and don’t forget to enjoy your life. I know this is cliché, but you’ve only got one.”

Courtesy of Courtney Gocke

[If you’re thinking about hurting yourself, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionhotline.org to live chat with someone. Help is out there. You are not alone.]

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Courtney Gocke of York, Nebraska. You can follow her journey on Instagram and her blog. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more stories of people struggling with their mental health:

‘I missed the sign, Daddy. I am so sorry. I never imagined this would be the last time I’d see you. I’m so glad I took this photo with you. It became your obituary photo.’

“He told me to unblock my ex’s number. At 2 a.m., he messaged me. ‘I know I’m not supposed to be talking to you, but I wanted to reach out to see how you were doing.’

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