I don’t think you really value life until you’ve been close to losing it. Perhaps that’s why I love living life so much. And I wasn’t close to losing it in the traditional sense. No dramatic life or death situation. I was at my own mercy. Staring down the barrel of my own sense of self hatred. Looking over the edge of the cliff of my own warped feelings of failure and worthlessness. When you’re twelve years old and you want to die by your own hand more than you want to live, when your own death is all you ever think about, you don’t know what life is. You don’t know how to live because you aren’t living. You’re stuck in a state of paralysis.

And then they told me. “Major depression”. That it wasn’t normal for a fourteen year old to have all of those thoughts that consumed me. There was a way to get help. I could put down the gun of my desire to escape my world of pain. I could take a step back from the edge of my total isolation and utter loneliness. And after years of balancing the right medication and finding the right treatment, it meant that I could live.

Learning to live-this didn’t come easy. I had to work for it. I had to spend years in therapy, trying new strategies for dealing with stress, discovering different ways to look at things, and finding a way to love myself. Not everyone understands what it means to be “clinically depressed”, and these misconceptions meant that I didn’t feel comfortable asking other people to help. So I battled it on my own with my therapist, trying each week to figure out how to function normally. Gradually I began to improve; I began to let people into my life. And eventually I reached a moment where I realized that I was happy. And suddenly the entire struggle –all of those times I wanted to give up and not even bother trying– became worth it. Even though it seemed at times to be an obstacle that was insurmountable, I am better for it. I faced myself in battle, so I know I can face anything.

Living is the greatest thing that ever happened to me. After losing five years of my life to that constant battle within me of whether to live or to die, I can finally choose to live. I can take every opportunity I see to be happy. I can make decisions; I can feel good about myself. It means so much to me that I have the privilege of living life, that I was granted a second chance by something inside me that always hesitated and didn’t take that away from myself. I value life more than anything. I have become a fighter, because I will protect my desire to live my life with everything I have. And I want everyone to have that chance. Because we all deserve to live. Every single one of us.

~I wrote this based on my own personal experiences. I share this because I want to promote awareness about mental illnesses such as depression in an attempt to remove the stigma that surrounds it in our society. Give Depression A Voice.

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