Depression for me has been the lifelong companion that always seems to creep back up, despite the distance I create, at the times of my life when I have the least space for it. This is me – real, raw, exposed, struggling in the wee hours of the morning to keep up with my tendency towards overcommitment, while simultaneously fighting the urge to give into that dark spiral that so easily can consume one’s being.

While each individual struggle is unique, all I can speak of is my own and the universal truths I have found through mutual understanding. Depression, as conceptualized, can ignite states of extreme hopelessness, sadness, physical pain, loneliness, and misunderstanding. It can create disassociation in which the experience of life is that of watching a movie, where observation from the outside is the only place belonging can be found. It can partner with insomnia and an inability to live outside of one’s thoughts. It can facilitate incapacitating anxiety, unreasonably high standards, and internal reflection to a fault.

However, I have chosen to see my struggle as a gift, and in times when it comes back for a visit, I welcome the reminder of how far I have come and the special perspective it has provided me on the world. My journey has provided me with the strength of solitude and revealed the value of self-love. It has allowed me to embrace my reflective nature and to explore the core facets of humanity. It has nurtured the ability to feel emotions in their most extreme capacities. It has reinforced an empathetic, open heart, and the necessity of love for each person we encounter. Lastly, it has provided the platform for countless connections of unparalleled depth with beautiful souls who similarly exist within this spectrum of struggle.

I am grateful, mindful, and strong because of this beautiful struggle I have been blessed with.