I have fought with depression my entire life. And ever since I was a young boy, it rarely gave moments of respite.
When I was barely 3, my mother and father split up and I spent years feeling responsible in some way. I didn't know what they argued or fought about and it didn't matter. I just knew that they were both pushed to their limits. I was old enough to know that something was seriously wrong. When I was 7, I was molested by a young male son to a babysitter's family. I didn't know anything about sex, but I knew something horrible just happened. It would take years for me to understand the long term damage it had done. I rarely knew friendship in school, and when I did... they would die (in the case of my first friend) or lose themselves in trying to be popular... to be somewhat "accepted" as a living lie as opposed to being true to themselves. I saw no point in pretending to be something I wasn't.
Then I would watch my strong, seemingly indestructible father go through a second divorce. Then my mother's second divorce. I would struggle and fail in nearly every relationship and then, finally my father's third divorce when I was lost and didn't know whether to believe in benevolence or ruthless ambition. I spent some 20 or so years of feeling unable to connect with any resemblance to a kindred spirit. I also had to help fight a government's war when I signed up to fight for a country instead. To top it off, I have heart-related issues that make me second-guess my mortality, if that makes any sense. I didn't have the hardest life of all time... others have hurt even more than me and have been damaged in ways more difficult to repair. But needless to say, life doesn't discriminate. Whether we live by greed, power or love... life sometimes deals a bad set of cards. Or in cases similar to mine... several. Because of that continuous pattern for years, I had allowed myself to be conditioned by it.
The solace I have is that my father was my hero and I never saw him broke as a child. His spirit cracked and fractured at times... but he never broke until during his third divorce. He was a perfect man in my eyes back then. Strong, capable, wise and had a big heart to go with a "No-Nonsense" Texan attitude. Later I saw his faults, but it didn't completely erase the man he (and later, my mother) helped to redeem. It is due to depression that I feel like an odd wolf, or some similar kind of beast. I am soft in my heart and tough at my hide. Weak in my body, strong in loyalty. I love fiercely and express it without apology and I don't contain vehemence (or a certain satisfaction) in striking down others that intend to harm people I love. Strangely, it is due to this topic that I had an odd epiphany. My bouts with depression have strangely made me strong in ways, but the campaign has weakened me with a crucial blow to my spirit: I have had trouble accepting that someone like myself can be loved or admired. It is why I have always shrugged off compliments and praise for the longest time. Because I've rarely been noticed, liked or valued in my life outside of the small, tightly-knit tribe that is my family... I have had a hard time believing that people could be caring (and as vulnerable) as I could be.
Today, I realize how far I have come. It's too long of a story on how I rose up and found tools to fight this longtime curse that we all feel at times in our lives. Maybe I'll tell the rest of that story someday, but right now I remember the positive effect that those few remaining in my life still provide. The family I still have, and those I've come to know on Elliquiy. Even you guys have a way of reshaping and improving me in ways I didn't imagine when applying here nearly a year ago! I can't believe it's been almost a full year now... and some of you I felt like I have known my entire life. I'm not glad I suffer from depression, I'm glad for the others that paint such a stark contrast to a world of hurt I once thought was all it could offer me.
All of these relationships in my life now (you guys, included!) give me a new sense of hope, renewal and power each day. I frequently am reminded that I'm not a perfect man, but I am much more than what others could ever see due to that new color they've added to my life in later years.