This I Believe

Matthew - Evansville, Indiana
Entered on October 30, 2008

I believe actions here are all that matter. I derive meaning from my experiences since each one of them represents a truth about my life. My battle with depression nine months ago lead me to this idea.

Nothing could prepare me for the state of utter decay in which I found myself during my second semester of college. I stared in the mirror on my dorm room door and witnessed the ever-darkening circles grow beneath my eyelids. I slept in three hour intervals, waking up with joint and back aches. Even though I ranked among the top of my freshman class, the mental illness ate away at any feelings of joy regardless of academic achievement. Each day came with a deeper sense of despair and apathy.

I do not know how my depression began or why it persisted. I craved meaning, some kind of anchor to hold me together. It seemed like optimism abounded around me. People kept saying “You’re nineteen, you’ve got your whole life ahead of you.â€? The scars on my left arm testified to the lack of vision I had for good things to come. I reached my breaking point over spring break; I was intent on doing something even if it was the last something.

I found a full bottle of aspirin, sat it on my desk, and just stared at it. At first, I did what I thought was natural: weigh the pros and cons. My family, my potential, my future…they meant nothing, certainly not at the time. I rationalized them all away- they would not have mattered to me if I was dead. My saving grace came from the simplest of ideas: “How do you find a meaning in life and save yourself from depression? You go find it.â€? So I did. And looking back, my reason for not committing suicide was the initial reason I gave for considering it in the first place- the importance of doing something.

Walking among my peers in my second year of college, I hear and witness a lot of things which don’t mean anything. “I feel crappy;â€? “I can’t believe she said that;â€? “Why does my life suck?â€? I remember running these phrases through my head on a daily basis. But I have discovered it is not what I say that defines who I am. That’s not the case for anyone. Actions are all that matter, even the act of doing nothing at all. I did not take myself out of this world. This has left me open to continue doing.

For me, any meaning worth holding onto is found in actions. Feelings fade. Words dissipate. An action is an eternal truth, a permanent mark which exclaims, “I exist here.� This, I believe: I am a doer, and that is all that matters.