Depression is real. It's crippling, it's dangerous, it's terrifying, it's evil. It set me free.
For a decent part of my last two years of high school and leading into my freshman year of college, I experienced depression. Some periods of time were worse or better, some days felt like the worst of my life, and others, like I had never felt depressed at all. But when I was at my lowest point, I was very, very low.
As anyone who has experienced depression will tell you, this illness shows no sympathy and it does not discriminate. Depression doesn't care that you have plans on Friday night, it will try to lock you in your room, anyway, keeping you quiet and away from your friends and family. It doesn't care that you have an exam in the morning that you need to study and rest up for, it will still keep you distracted for hours and then awake all night, regardless. It doesn't mind that you "have no real reason to be upset," or "should just get over it," or even that you've tried countless methods to try to change the way you think. It is not glamorous or poetic. Sometimes it will still hold a razor to your wrist and tempt you.
It's hard to write about this now, as I sit happily on the other side of that terrible "journey," not because it evokes emotions that are difficult to confront, but rather the opposite. I am happier at this point in my life than I almost ever have been. It's so odd to try to remember the way I felt when I felt that way because it is light years away from where I am now. I watched a video this morning that suggested the fleeting and temporary nature of depression that we should not identify with that which simply comes and goes. Man, am I living proof of that or what?
I was so lost and so far down that, most of the time, I didn't even see the countless friends and family standing at the top of that pit, reaching over the ledge and trying to lift me up. I feel so grateful that even in my darkest moments, when I felt no one could reach me and I'd never feel normal again, I somehow listened to the people that kept telling me, "It will get better, this can't last forever." I have never heard nor spoken truer words.
If there's one thing that overcoming depression has taught me, it's that to live life is a beautiful honor and privilege that not all are awarded. More importantly, even as storm clouds come and go, life is still beautiful. When you can't quite see the sun and you aren't sure if you ever will again, you will. Life is still beautiful.
My view from the other side of depression features the most incredible friends and family, without whom I literally would not be here, smiling as I write. I am forever indebted to the ones who never once gave up on me... the ones who found my not-so-secret journals that I not-so-secretly wanted them to find--my cries for help that, retrospectively, could have been carried out in much more mature or effective ways. I'm thankful for prayer and a relentlessly loving God. I am thankful for patient doctors, for a series of attempts at finding the right combination of medicine and therapy.
I can't say that I'll never go back to that place again. I don't know what the future holds or what evil tricks the devil has up his sleeve. But I do know that if I ever find myself slipping, I'll feel more equipped than I ever did before. With such a trying and challenging experience under my belt, the right people standing by my side and Jesus in my corner, I can do anything.
My view from the other side of depression has gratitude in the forefront. I am grateful for a wide open future that lies before me, full of mystery, promise, just a tinge of anxious awaiting and, mostly, excitement.