Note: This post may be triggering due to mention of suicidal thoughts.
When I was 16, I believed there were only two possibilities: by 21, I'd have it all figured out, or I'd be dead.
Around that time I took a CBT class, which went through all the major psychological coping mechanisms. What I didn't know then, was that one of them-- black and white, or 'all or nothing' thinking (also known as 'splitting')-- perfectly described what I was thinking-- and was a symptom of Borderline Personality Disorder, which, at the time, I did not believe I had.
On my way to class each Wednesday, I wrestled with this thought: 'I have to try my best, because this class might be my last hope. If I fail, I'll have no more options and I'll never be able to cope with my mental illness and then I'll have to kill myself'.
No rational thought could stop this pattern. I couldn't process that there's a grey area between success and failure, between success and suicide. That's black and white thinking.
I definitely didn't want to die, and I wasn't being dramatic, either. I was just so depressed, and overwhelmed by my untreated BPD, that I couldn't see a third option.
I wish I could hug my teenage self, tell her to hold on, because there's so much life she hasn't experienced yet. Most importantly, I wish I could tell her that, for certain now, I know therapy works, and antidepressants work, and believing in yourself works.
Whatever stage you're at in fighting your illness, I want you to know this: It's possible to recover. Even if you need medication (or don't). Even if you need therapy (or don't). Even if you don't believe in yourself at first. Even if you stumble sometimes (I know I still do!).
The world is not all black and white. Accept that there's an in-between, and believe that you deserve and can achieve amazing things (including recovery). Then, you'll thrive.