There are moments in life we all love to remember; the joys, like weddings and the birth of children, the silly times, like remembering playing games with your mom as a child or that funny movie you laughed at until you cried, or the successes, like graduating or getting the job of your dreams. These moments make up the cornerstones of our lives. Usually. Except when they don’t. Unfortunately for some of us, these moments were few and far between in our lives, if we can even remember them. Sometimes, memories aren’t of something worth reminding ourselves of day in and day out, and yet our brain for some god forsaken reason chooses these as the foundation upon which our very being is built. I’ve personally known this all too well.
Pretty much all of my life I’ve had depression. As far back as I can remember, although there are large gaps in my memory. It’s a well known fact that depression can cause memory loss. Regrettably for me, my brain cut out so many memories to protect itself that most of what’s left are those traumatic events I long to forget. My mind did its best trimming off the broken, dead branches, but unfortunately took too many of the living ones as well, and then I think maybe the clippers broke before it finished its job. At least that’s what it feels like in my brain. A twisted, tangled bunch of branches, some covered in sharp thorns, that’s far too easy to get trapped and lost within. Occasionally you’ll come across one beautiful, blooming branch in the mess of my mind, and those, those precious few memories are the ones I spend my time grasping onto and praying they’ll keep me from falling again.
There have come times in my life that I was so deeply entangled that I felt unable to ever escape again, and fought to escape by attempting to end my existence. I wish I could say it has happened only once, however, sadly there have been multiple times I would have done anything to bring an end to it all. Thankfully, as I sit here writing this for you today, I was obviously unsuccessful. One of the rare times in life I’m so utterly grateful to have failed miserably at something. Had I succeeded, I would have missed out of some of those amazing moments that I described in the beginning; those moments that make life worth living, no matter what else I’ve been through.
The foremost of these moments is my son. A tiny, helpless baby that has grown to a beautiful, curious child. I can’t imagine what the world would be like anymore had it been deprived of his amazing spirit. I had no idea how much life, and love, and joy my body, the body that has been through so much, could create. Not only that, I would have missed bringing life into this world for another family who would otherwise have been unable to have their own children. My body, me, with my twisted, tangled brain, has brought so much life into this world that otherwise would not have existed. Lives that can now go on and change the world for the better. Besides creating life, I would have missed creating my family. I would never have met and married my wife, whom I love with a love I had never felt before and never thought existed in what, to me, had been so dark of a world. Finally I would have missed out on me. Finding out who I am and who I’m meant to be in this world. There is so much I’m still discovering every day and now instead of praying for it to end, I pray that I live long enough to experience it all, discover everything I can, love as deeply as possible, and see who I become in this life.
I’m still amazed every day that I wake up. Not that I wake up and.., but just that I wake up. I’ve been lucky to have been given multiple chances and with this last one, I have made something beautiful out of something tragic. I have watched more and more branches begin to bloom with the life and love that wouldn’t have been, had I succeeded in allowing my depression to win. I’m beyond grateful everyday that I chose to stay awhile, despite what was going on around me and inside of me. I chose this life. And now, I get to live it. So simple, yet so profound. I get to live. Now that by no means means everything is perfect now. It’s not all sunshine and flowers in my brain. On the contrary, it still very much looks like the path to Maleficent’s castle in Sleeping Beauty. Things still go wrong, tragedies still happen, and besides that, depression doesn’t just go away. It’s there inside my brain for the rest of my life. The difference now, is that I’ve learned how to find the beauty within it, and how to continue to grow through it and in spite of it. I’ve come to see what comes after, and what beauty can be created from something so frightening and ugly. I’ve found the more. Now I’m excited to see what’s next. I have a beautiful wife who stands by me though the ups and downs of my depression, an amazing son who challenges me in good and bad ways every day, and I’m looking forward to where we’ll go next as a family, where I’ll go next as a person. I’m ready to live. I’m ready to grow. I’m ready to thrive. And I pray you’re there in the next part of the story too, even if we never meet in person.