Emotional despair is a tough subject. No one wants it. Some don’t want to hear about it. Yet, we know that emotional distress is both common and deeply troubling – to those who suffer the moment-to-moment angst and to those who love and care about them. For many who struggle, there is no quick fix, no magical bolus. But we know—we really know—that with caring, sustained love and, at times, skilled help, such suffering can drift away in truly remarkable ways. Let’s listen to the wise, first-person insights of 13-year-old Phoebe Porder.  

Phoebe Porder is a student at the Gordon School in East Providence, RI.  

Love saved me. Love saves us all. Don’t believe me? Just listen.

In second grade, I was reprimanded for pulling someone’s hair. I spent almost an hour hiding and crying. I don’t know what changed inside me, but something did.

I spent the rest of Lower School fragile and vulnerable. My days were fractured by fits of emotions, tears and anger flowing uncontrollably out of me like a waterfall. The good I had was shattered by my endless anger, self-loathing, and hate. I was always hating: hating my friends for doing certain things, and hating myself, thinking I deserved the misery coming to me. I was wild, like a tornado.

I knew everyone saw me differently. I was a bomb, about to go off at any moment. My parents sent me to therapy. That helped over time, but it only made me feel even more self-hatred. Something about me needed to be rewritten.

I slowly improved, but misery still lingered inside. The feeling of difference and sadness remained.

At the beginning of sixth grade, emotions took over. In one moment, I felt completely unloved, and, because of that, I almost attempted suicide.

I only couldn’t do it because, buried under the sadness, I knew people loved me.

Being able to see that love was all it took to bring me happiness. I noticed my friends being there no matter what. They refused to leave me alone. I was a hard friend to have, and I learned to recognize the people who stood by me no matter how much I cried.

As my mind cleared, I realized every time I thought my parents were trying to fix me, they were giving me opportunities to fight off the pain. Every time I think about how unpredictable I was, I realize they never stopped standing by me, never stopped telling me they loved me.

Without love, there’s no way I could ever dream of being happy and safe.

Without love, I could be dead.  

We need more love. People do horrible things to everyone because they feel they have no love to hold on to. That’s hurting us more than ever.

1,400,000. The number of American suicide attempts in 2017.

If everyone saw how many people loved them, the world would be a better place. So if you’re listening, go out there and give your love. You could save someone’s life.