This piece was originally published in The Mighty about the unexpected emotions I felt while battling and eventually defeating depression….
I’m grateful for my battle with depression.
I know it might sound bizarre. Who would be grateful for a mental illness that wreaks havoc on the mind, body and soul? A disease that has a stigma so stifling it makes those suffering from it feel alienated in our world and lost and alone in their own existence.
Let me tell you why.
Depression ravaged my life for years. Although I know there’s always a chance it’ll come back knocking on my door, for the past year I’ve been mentally sound and at peace, free from its toxicity.
It was not easy by any means. It took years to even recognize I had a mental illness, even longer to take that first step towards getting help. Then, there was the long battle of beating depression. However, I was able to defeat it with the help of doctors, therapists, the right medication, supportive friends and family and most importantly, digging deep inside myself. I had to go places in my mind I had long buried and forgotten about, unearthing pain and grief that for many years I suppressed hoping it would disappear on
So now here I am. After years of running, hiding and fighting, I’ve finally taken back my life. I’m finally free from depression’s grasp. I’m back in the driver’s seat of my mind and once again in control of my life. I find myself feeling a large range of emotions, but one that I’ve recently come to discover is gratefulness.
I’m grateful for so many things, people, experiences and opportunities in my life. But I’m also grateful for my battle with depression.
Being depressed caused me to hit rock bottom and forced me to re-evaluate my life and my priorities. It forced me to cut ties with toxic relationships and made me learn who truly was there for me through thick and thin.
Beating depression allowed me to reflect on my life and rediscover who I am as a person. It made me realize my passions and gave me a profound appreciation for everything in life, the good and the bad.
I believe it’s out of these battles this appreciation for our existence flourishes. After its destruction, out of the rubble, I was able to grow into a new and better version of myself, much like new trees sprout out of the ashes of a devastating forest fire. In beating depression I was finally able to fully appreciate life, but I could never have beaten it if it had never come into my life at all.
It made me a better person, a stronger person, someone who is comfortable in their own skin. Before my battle with depression these things did not exist.
Yes, it was hard. Yes, it was painful. And yes, I suffered. There were days where I thought I wasn’t going to win, days I felt powerless to it and days I thought I was going to succumb to this disease entirely.
But I didn’t.
Depression entered my life without my permission and it tore me apart mercilessly. I wasted years being angry and dwelling on the past, but the past can’t be changed.
Depression will always be a part of my life. Even though the worst of the storm is over, I work hard every day to keep it at bay. All I can do, all anyone can do, is continue to move forward from your suffering and try your best to take something positive away from it. Which is exactly what I’m trying to do.
So you heard me right. After it is all said and done, I’m thankful for my battle with depression, and for all the struggles I’ve experienced in life, because the bad moments matter. It’s these moments that make you stronger. It taught me that there’s always hope.
For that, I’m forever grateful.