“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” -Dr. Brene Brown
Disclaimer: This should not be confused with professional advice because I’m not an expert on depression. I’m only sharing my experiences.
Starting in 2006, I battled an Adderall-induced depression for five years during my middle and high school years. It pushed me to a low that I didn’t know existed and wasn’t sure that I’d ever be able to recover from. Until recently, this was a topic that I only discussed with people inside of my inner-circle. I’m opening up and sharing this publicly now with the hope that my learnings will add value, perspective, and insights regardless of whether you are struggling or not.
I was not alone. In any given year, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimates that 16 million adults in the U.S. have at least one depressive episode, a whopping seven percent of the population. Worldwide, this number includes 350 million people. Depression isn’t something that I would wish on my worst enemy, but it played a major, and ultimately positive role in shaping me into who I am today.
It might seem odd, but I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to overcome the challenges that depression placed in my path. Conquering what was once a life-crippling depression has given me incredible strength. I owe much of my drive, passion and confidence to overcoming this challenge. It has also put my life in perspective and I have learned to appreciate that every low in my life is now insignificant relative to what I’ve already overcome. The lessons I learned from experiencing an isolated depression are at the root of my world and life outlook.
While this post is intense, it is intended to demonstrate the positive impact adversity has had on my life. And it’s important to note that my struggle has a happy ending: Why 2017 Was The Happiest Year of My Life. In the last few months, I finally feel like I’ve come to terms with any lingering negativity and scars from my past that have been weighing on me. Aside from appreciating my ability to heal and grow, here are my key takeaways.
Cover photo by Ian Chen.