Ryan's Story: Dear Depression

Dear depression, thank you for coming in to my life.

Before I met you, I thought I was strong. Before I met you, I thought I was happy. And before I met you, I thought I knew who I was.

Well it turns out depression that I had zero idea what strength truly was, happiness was just a social construct I thought I understood, and I could not recognize who I was until I went through adversity. Thanks to you, depression, I now know all of this.

When I reflect on my life before I met you, everything seemed so simple. Yes, I experienced challenges and difficulties, but I never questioned whether I was struggling, nor did I ever think that this road may have been a possibility in my future. I was living a life in which ignorance was bliss.

Depression, had I never met you, this may have still been my life and I very well may have thought that it was bliss; but now I realize how wrong I would have been. I now know that I would never trade the moments we shared together, which seems ironic, considering how hard I tried to get rid of you. I think back of all the fights we had, the grief you caused me, and all the stages we went through. There were a few months of medication to defeat you, thousands of dollars of therapy to suppress you, and even a thought or two about getting rid of myself, in order to get rid of you.

Who would have ever thought that only a couple of years later that my greatest gratitude in life would be you, depression. I believe this new mindset only started when I changed my relationship with you, which also changed my perspective of you. Instead of being the darkness that once lived inside of me, you became my biggest source of introspection.

Once I stopped hating you, ignoring you, and trying to rid myself of you, I finally asked myself the right question: “why are living inside of me!” It was only upon asking myself this question that things became clear. It turns out that the happy, safe, and bliss life that I thought I was living was all a lie. And depression, you showed me that. You weren’t trying to hurt me, you were trying to teach me and to protect me. To date, this turned out to be my greatest life lesson.

It was only at my deepest and darkest moments that I learned who I was and what strength I possessed. So who am I? Well, I could show you a picture, I could send you a CV, and maybe even some reference letters, but none of that could successfully convey who I am.

I AM A SURVIVOR, I am someone who hit what felt like the bottom, yet somehow came out not only alive, but thriving. Once you know how far you can fall and how far you can rise is when you can find your true strength and recognize who you really are. And it is only once you have lost all hope that you can finally find out what matters in life.

So what matters to me? Well that would be myself, my family, my friends, and then all the rest; in that order. So I have now learned to value myself, send gratitude and love to my family and friends for always being there for me and supporting me, and to always give back through acceptance, compassion, and awareness to others. Everything else can wait.

Depression, you have taught me who and what matters in life. This is a life lesson that I have learned at 22, a lesson that many others may never get the chance to learn in a lifetime. Without you in my life, I would have never had such clarity, passion, and gratitude in my life. Because of you, I am whole and I will forever be indebted to your teachings. You were once an enemy, but now you are a friend, I will never forget that, nor what you taught me.


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