I must say you have put up quite a fight. You insidiously infiltrated my life years ago completely unbeknownst to me. For years I blamed myself for the rage, despair and deep emptiness that consumed my life. But it was you all along, hiding cowardly in the shadows, vehemently inflicting pain on my existence. You tore my confidence to shreds, destroyed relationships that I held dear and stripped away my appreciation for life.
It has been a long battle, and we have both fought hard. I fought to get better while you, quite frankly, fought to kill my mind, body, soul and spirit. But today I can tell you with full confidence that you have lost. Every day I defeat you on multiple fronts, leaving you with no hope of ever again tormenting my life. You once affected almost every aspect of my existence but through self-reflection, personal discovery and a little help from some friends I uncovered four ways in which I defeat you every day.
1. For years you have caused me physical pain: constant headaches, achy joints and sore muscles that were debilitating beyond repair, but not anymore. Now I wake up every day, pain or not. I get up and venture out into the world. I take yoga classes that allow me to stretch, bend and wring the pain, you caused like poison, out of me. I fill my ears with positive and empowering tunes as I dance through the subways and down the streets of Manhattan. People may look at me and think I am a bit eccentric but I couldn’t care less for my body is finally free from your once constricting grip.
2. You stole my confidence. You made me hate myself. You sneakily slipped goggles over my eyes that distorted how I saw myself and how I viewed the world. Now every morning when I wake up and look into the mirror I see myself for how I truly am. I say how much I love myself, how beautiful I am, how strong I am, even on the days that I don’t entirely believe it, because my positive affirmations are stronger than your hate.
3. You made me feel empty and alone. You made me feel like I did not belong on this planet; that my friends, family and the world would be better off without me. You made me question the value of my very existence but now I take all those thoughts you have relentlessly tried to infect my mind with and pour them into my writing. Words that I now share globally, transforming the despair and isolation you created into hope and solace to millions of other souls you attempt to torture on a daily basis.
4. Finally my shame. Oh the shame that you caused me. For too long I lived embarrassed of my condition, concerned about what people would think if they knew, worried about how they would judge me and use my mental illness against me. I used to lie about therapy sessions and doctor appointments, ashamed of the labels and stigmas that you created, but not anymore. Now I can stand up and shout to the world that I have no shame for what you have done to me. You do not stigmatize me any longer.
You may always be a part of my life. I will give you that. But you will never define me. You do not make me who I am. I will have good days and I will have bad days but that is okay, because no matter what I will wake up every day and value the beauty of life that you shielded from my view for so long. I will bask in the appreciation of my existence that you once stole from me. I am grateful for everything life has given me, the good and the bad — including you. For without the torment you put me through I would never have such a deep gratitude for everything life has given me. You tried to break me but in doing so you only made me stronger. You waged a war with the wrong woman. Depression, you have lost, and for the rest of the days I have on this beautiful planet I will continue to defeat you by simply being alive and soaking up all life has to offer with joy, happiness and a profound appreciation for life.