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Hi, I'm Sawyer, the Founder and CEO of Keep On: I'm humbled that you're here. I'm even more humbled that I'm here today to write this. Being raw & vulnerable is new to me, but I hope my story & my experience with depression will help at least one person out there. January, 2018 was lined up to be my last month alive. I was mentally exhausted, I was hurting more than I can explain, and I was depressed. At the time, I thought my only escape was to escape life itself. Everything for my departure was planned. I had the pills, I knew the location, I sent my goodbye texts and I was ready to go. You're probably asking yourself, "How did things get to that point?" Well let me tell you. It all started around high school for me. In my head, I had the whole world figured out. So as any 18 year old would do, I started planning my life out piece by piece and creating extremely high expectations and goals. Essentially I was going to get into a great college, get my degree in a breeze, get an amazing job, travel the world, find the love of my life, get married, have kids once we settled down, and ride off into the sunset happy as can be.
Now you can probably see where things are about to go wrong. Let's start from the top with my schooling. I did a single semester at a college here in Utah before dropping out. For those of you that don't know, unfortunately one semester of college doesn't earn you a degree. Next up, the amazing job. While I have genuinely loved my career path, it didn't start like that. Being fresh out of school with no degree didn't quite land me my dream job. Instead it led to an entry level role that I didn't enjoy. My new entry level job also wasn't going to fund my world travels. But I'm going to still find the love of my life right? Wrong. I'll spare you the details, but I am divorced with two kids. There were other events along the way that were difficult, challenging, and unpleasant to deal with. It felt like my whole world was crumbling around me. It felt like I was slowly losing myself. And it felt like I couldn't keep going. We all have a breaking point, and I was fast approaching mine. Once I hit my breaking point, my depression took over. I could barely function. I had to take a leave from work. I had to pause being a dad. I stopped eating. I didn't speak to anyone. I had given up. I vaguely remember the details of the days leading up to the lowest point of my life; it all felt like a blur. It barely felt like I was living. The day that I thought would be the last of my life was also the worst day of my life. I remember that all I could do was cry that day. I didn't see anyone. I just sat in my room and ran through my plan over and over again. I told myself that this was all my fault and that it was what I deserved. I was a mess. Feelings of deep sadness, utter defeat, anger and resentment just flowed through my brain. Eventually I made my way to my car, drove to a Walmart, bought a dangerous amount of medicine for the overdose, and drove 45 minutes to my favorite (now least favorite) lookout spot over the city. My family and two closest friends knew I had been struggling and the whole day, they were calling and texting me repeatedly since they hadn't heard from me. Usually I'd at least respond to their messages to let them know I was hanging in there, but not this time. Knowing the calling wouldn't stop, I turned my phone to airplane mode so they couldn't reach me, track my location, or know anything about what was going on. As I sat at the overlook, I pulled out my phone and wrote individual goodbye messages to all of my family members, my two kids, and my two best friends. I've never cried so uncontrollably in my life. I felt like I had let everyone down. If you've made it this far, I'm impressed. I promise this story has a positive and happy ending. Once I was ready to send the messages, I turned my airplane mode off and the flood of worried texts and calls from family members instantly resumed. I would decline every call and ignore every message but this was the first step in having my life saved. The calls and texts to my phone were able to send a signal with my location to the police that were out searching for me. I had no idea, so I continued sobbing and sending my individual goodbye messages. I was about ready to take the pills and end it all but the thought of leaving my two kids, Adriana and Anthony, without a dad ripped my heart to pieces. I sat and thought about how selfish I would be to do that to my innocent, sweet kids that I loved more than anything in the world. It felt like I sat with those thoughts for hours. As I was thinking, three recognizable cars pulled up next to me. It was my dad's truck, my friend Ben's car, and a police car. Instantly my heart dropped even further than before, my tears started flowing harder, I tried hiding the pills, and I locked my doors. I remember so vividly my dad running to my car with the most concerned yet relieved face I've ever seen. After a few minutes, I reluctantly opened the doors and let him in. I couldn't even talk. All I could do was cry. Then my friends Ben and Skyler came in and talked to me. And then the hardest part, the police officers came to tell me that because I was a danger to myself, I had to be hospitalized. I was humiliated, embarrassed, and angry but thankfully this was the start to my recovery.
Thank you to my unbelievable, incredible parents Matt and Heidi. I truly don't know what I did to deserve them. Not a single second has passed without them loving me and caring about me. Through my darkest times, they never left my side, they never were discouraged by my struggles and my issues, and they did everything they possibly could to make sure I was alright. My dad would sleep on my bedroom floor when he knew I was suicidal. My mom was always my rock and took care of my kids when I couldn't. She protected them from my issues until I was able to parent again and I'll forever be grateful for that. Without my parents, I wouldn't be here today. I could write an entire novel on each of my parents and the amazing lives they've put together and the positive impacts they've had on everyone they meet. I love them so much. Thank you to my favorite person in the world, Taylor. Taylor and I met 6 months after my suicide attempt. Initially I was terrified of new relationships. I had no idea about dating as a single dad and I was definitely not ready to open up to someone about my past and my issues. But from day one, it felt like I had known her for years and she just saw me for me. I could be myself and she accepted my flaws, my imperfections, and my issues with mental health. Not only did she accept them, but she helped me get better, she helped me love myself again, and she helped me be in a relationship that continues to bring me so much joy, happiness, and fulfillment. She has accepted Adriana and Anthony as her own and is the best instant mom that I could ever imagine. Taylor has a heart of gold. Somehow she chose me and everyday I feel extremely lucky to have her by my side through the rest of my life. I'm grateful that she always continues to love me, support me, and brings out the best in me. Thank you to my kids, Adriana and Anthony. My two kids that I love more than words can describe. They gave me a reason to stay. During my depression, they were the one constant that kept me going. The one constant that kept me holding on. I am so incredibly grateful that I get to be their dad, that I get to watch them grow up and learn, that I get to watch them navigate life, and that I get to be present in their lives. There's no doubt that leaving them would have been my biggest regret. I can't wait for the day that they're old enough for me to explain my story to them and tell them that they're the reason I kept living. Until then, I'll keep loving them, growing with them, and helping them become the people that they want to become. Thank you to my two best friends, Ben and Skyler. Two of the most selfless people you'll ever meet. I met Ben in kindergarten and Skyler a few years later in 5th grade. We've grown up together and they are both brothers to me. They have been there for me through the ups, the downs, and the hardest times of my life. When I was struggling the most, was when they both stepped up the most. Ben's family, took me in and let me live with them while I got my feet underneath me. Skyler would check in on me daily and would listen to me vent and cry and open up. Ben would delay school projects, work projects, and his own personal life to hang out with me and be there for me. Skyler would put his own needs on the back burner to make sure I was alright. Not once did they ever complain or hesitate to help. I will forever be indebted to them for saving my life. I couldn't ask for better friends. Thank you to so many people. I can't list everyone but so many people have saved my life. My great siblings. Tom & Kim Lee. Jake Lee. Tyler Savage. Jake McFarland. My awesome friend group. My aunts and uncles. My grandparents and cousins. My colleagues and coworkers. My counselors and therapists. The police that found me. People that I barely knew who have been kind to me. I could go on forever. Just know that I'm thankful. I'm thankful that I'm alive. I'm grateful that I can share my story. I hope that through the Keep On: community, we can create a safe place. A place of love. A place of healing. And a place of support. I love you all. If you ever need to reach me directly, you can through the support page. If you need someone to talk to, if you need to vent, if you just need a friend, please reach out. I would love to meet you and offer any support that I can. With love, Sawyer.