Last week I reached 50 definitions of life posted on this blog! I decided that it would be a good stopping to point to give my readers some more insight on why I began this project a little over four years ago. I am not looking for pity or attention, I just want to be real and honest. I think this post (or what I’d call chapter since I originally wanted this to become a book) is really important whether you know me or not. Anyways, I hope people take the time to read this & be kind with responses.
I, like many other humans, have struggled with depression. The first time I remember realizing that my depression began was the summer before my sophomore year of high school. I was never clinically diagnosed with depression, but many people who struggle with depression never have it diagnosed. In my opinion, depression hits someone with an initial circumstance that causes extreme sadness, but then roots itself deeper inside someone’s emotions as a problem that is non-circumstantial. I do want to sort of keep my circumstance on the private side, but I can say that it was a combination of a lot of stuff. My sophomore year of high school was pretty bad because of the depression. I stay involved, but I silently hated things I was involved in. I felt a sense of worthlessness and loneliness almost all the time. I would come back from a practice or rehearsal and just go in my room to be by myself. I would listen to depressing music and cry. I did not tell ANY of my friends I was struggling, until I felt like I had overcome the worst of it. I remember getting into several arguments with my best friends because I would be irritated by the whole world and just blame them. I pushed one of my closest friends (literally, liked shoved her) because I was so mentally unstable at the time; which probably sounds ridiculous to some, but I still feel terrible about it. She did not deserve that and no one else deserved the backlashes from my depression. I never physically injured myself because I was too worried that someone would find out (I was really involved in high school), or if I would attempt to kill myself that it would not work and I’d be on constant suicidal watch for the rest of my life. It was a really, really bad time of my life.
But then something happened. I do not remember what snapped me out of it, but I am so glad that I did. Thinking of the idea for this project I know was part of it. I asked “What is life?” because I surely knew I wasn’t living what it was supposed to be, so I began a journey to find out what life meant to other people. I faked happiness for months after thinking of the project idea because I knew it would eventually turn into genuine happiness, and it surprisingly did. I also started to purse Christ at that point in high school and attended a Christian camp, Young Life. I was starting to see the pieces of the idea that someone died for me so I can live, but I still had a long journey ahead. Depression is not finished with me. I believe it is an illness that is difficult to 100% recover from. I have days and moments were a sudden depression cloud hangs over my head and ruins everything, but I am much better at handing this now. Most of my friends (especially the ones that did not know me in high school) would agree that I am an energetic, joyful, loud person a majority of the time, so reading all of this probably shocks you. I am that way I am today because of my depression. I am who I am today because of my depression. If I had not gone through all the stuff during that time and even after, I would not be ME. I don’t want to hide it anymore either. I have discussed it with many of friends, but I don’t usually want to come right out there and say “Hey, I’m Ashley and I have depression”. I think it is especially important for anyone reading my Defining Life Project posts because you have a deeper understanding behind it. Hopefully this posts fills some pieces in whether you are a friend of mine or just someone who enjoys reading the life definitions I have collected. It feels good to have written this.