Personally, some pretty great things happened in 2016. Going to Iceland, my first 5k, homebrew successes, settling into San Diego... But what this post is all about is understanding a life-long struggle with depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and maladaptive thinking, confronting it, seeking help, and coming out of it a better person.
Depression. For much of my life, I've thought "Eh, it's just in my head, I should be able to change the way I am thinking and get over it." I thought that as long as I'd put on a happy face and "fake it till I made it", I'd be fine. But I've learned that's not the case. Instead, that led to a viscous cycle of me telling myself that my way of thinking was wrong, that I should just be thinking/acting differently and buying into the [false!] stigma that therapy and self help is run by con artists for weak and gullible people. Depression and anxiety used to rule my life. With the support of loved ones, I finally sought the help I needed and and came out the other side feeling more clear minded, healthy and resilient than I've been in my entire life - and this is just the beginning of the journey.
If anyone reading this has had similar struggles, PLEASE KNOW THAT YOU'RE NOT ALONE!
I've learned a lot of valuable lessons this year. I learned that I was relying heavily on the recognition I would receive through my jobs in the past. I learned that those superficial self esteem boosts helped to hide the real depressive disorder I was failing to recognize and confront. I learned that in order to be happy and successful in the world, you need to be happy and successful in YOUR world first and foremost. I learned that true happiness isn't dependent on others' thinking or actions. I learned there's a hell of a lot of value in meditation and mindfulness. I learned that the more imperfect I realize I am, the more perfect I am becoming. I might have known these things were "the right answers" in the past, but I finally believe and understand it all rather than just understanding how it ought to be.
My journey hasn't been pretty. It's been one of the most difficult things I've dealt with - Ever. I am infinitely grateful for the love, support, and patience of my family, my closest friends, and of course - my amazing girlfriend, my rock, my inspiration. I've made it from feeling hopeless and suicidal to the point of needing to be under constant surveillance to being able to openly and honestly share this story.
Why am I writing this? Because it's OK to feel and to share. It's OK to struggle with depression, anxiety, and the like. More people than any of us realize feel these things. Chances are, they feel completely alone and that SUCKS. I've gone through much of my life without understanding or confronting these feelings. If I can help others who have felt the way I did, I want to. If I can raise awareness, I want to. If I can save someone's life, I want to. I've never been much of a charitable person. Now, I couldn't feel stronger about raising awareness about mental health. I've been kicking around the idea of putting on a charity beer festival for mental health awareness and fundraising. It might be a weird concept to use a depressant to raise awareness and funds for depression, but I think there's something there.
Anyways, that's my story for the night. If you've made it this far, thanks for reading.
I love you all.