I believe in living and loving life. “Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.” by James Dean is my favorite quote. The first time I read it, sophomore year; I opened my planner and scribbled it down on Sunday September 18, 2005. Weeks later, my grandmother lost her battle to cancer; I opened the planner to the date of her death, only to find the quote. Since that day, I’ve tried to live by those words. From my grandmother’s death and heroin-addicted ex-boyfriend, to my addictions and clinical depression, to losing four people within 17 days, there are days I cannot believe I’m still breathing.
I was extremely close to my Grandma Beth. December 2004, she was diagnosed with cancer. Being a strong woman, I had faith that she’d fight it. But September 18, 2005 she lost the 9 month battle. My journey ahead would be long and hard. Weeks, even months later were a haze and the depression kicked in. One December night, changed my life. It was the first time I hung out with the future love of my life.
Justin and I started dating December 2005. We had many differences and little did I know it would cause problems beyond my imagination. By the time I was a junior he was into cocaine and heroin. After the death of a friend, due to coke, I prayed that he’d stop using. It only sent him into a downward spiral. There were many break-ups and the emotional abuse left me more depressed, turning to alcohol and marijuana for help.
I was diagnosed with clinical depression at 17. Nothing significant happened during my senior year, other than nights of drinking until I blacked out. Counseling helped and my drinking and smoking minimized to 2-3 times a month. The depression never stopped and is currently at its peak.
2009 was creeping closer; I was ready for a new start. New Year’s Eve another grandmother passed away. I didn’t think anything could get worse until nine days later; my great uncle was killed in a farming accident. I got back to school the following Sunday, surprisingly excited for the new semester. The first Friday back was great, only for the unbelievable to come Saturday. I received a text at 9pm, a close friend died in a car accident. I called my mom in hysteria; she thought I heard about my cousin losing his battle to leukemia…
I am a complete mess and for some reason, I keep living. Instead of being that blank slate, I put on a smile and try to be happy. Unfortunately the depression lingers over my head like a cloud of overwhelming sadness. Through deaths, heart breaks, emotional and addiction problems, I’ve finally learned not to let my past and current depression get in the way of leading a normal life. I only have one life to live, one life to cherish and one life to love.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.