This I Believe

Caitlin - Middleton, Wisconsin
Entered on December 11, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: change, illness
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I believe in passion.

People use the phrase, “I’ve been through Hell!” but they’ve never really been there. People suffering from depression live there. I lived there for three years. I was diagnosed with major depression when I was 11. For the next three years I was subject to different medicine combinations, trying to create a ‘proper chemical balance’ in my brain. But that’s not what was wrong. Chemicals don’t have the power to put someone in Hell.

People who haven’t experienced depression can never imagine what it’s like. It’s not just being really sad. Sadness is the least of it. Depression isn’t just sadness or grief, it’s hating yourself more than most people can imagine. It’s guilt, regret, and feeling worthless. Depression is not remembering what happiness felt like, and not believing that you could ever be happy again. I felt stuck, miserable, and lost in a situation that I was powerless to change. Time was both speeding past and standing still. I felt like I was wasting time being depressed, and at the same time, that I would never feel better. I felt guilty for just sitting there when I should be working. I could barely go to school. Homework was next to impossible. Everyone else can do this, I thought. I hurt so bad. My chest ached. I’m a waste of space and energy. I have no self-control. I’m disgusting. These were the thoughts that passed through my mind, but they didn’t even compare to how I felt. Those were the easy days.

Sometimes it hurt so bad I couldn’t think about anything but stopping the pain. A few times, my mind couldn’t take it. I literally became comatose. I was aware of everything, but I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t move, it didn’t occur to me to try. To go back to that Hell was unthinkable. My mind dulled and all I could feel was the pain.

One day, I woke up and saw everything differently. My ‘chemical imbalance’ had been fixed with a mixture of medications. After three years, I finally was able to see the sun again. That time changed me, though. After so long of feeling nothing but pain, I began to find joy in everything. Not only joy, but passion. I lost three years of my life, I have a lot to make up for. Passion was what made me feel alive again. I get excited when I see a penny on the ground, it’s not a big deal, but the fact that I can feel anything is worth getting excited for. I will never again look at bubbles and not feel joy. I feel passionate about everything: daily life, my friends, my family, my boyfriend. Passion is what makes life worth living. It’s what makes us alive in the first place. I get excited when I get up in the morning. I’ll never forget what I’ve been through, but more importantly, I’ll never go back.