This upcoming Monday will mark my 30th orbit around the sun, and to say I am excited to be turning 30 is an understatement. Anyone who knows me as more than a casual acquaintance can attest to the fact that I am ecstatic about reaching this particular milestone. In my early and mid-20s, I did not believe I would live to see my 30th birthday. The up-and-down, back-and-forth struggle with severe depression and the fruit it bore in my life was so exhausting and discouraging that, for a time, I felt certain that one day I would tire of the fight to live and choose to die.
Trying to explain what living with depression is like to someone who has never faced that particular demon is nearly impossible. Words like despair, misery, emptiness, apathy, weariness, loss, and fear are barely adequate. Shame, guilt, terror, and grief were a crushing weight on my chest, making the simple act of continuing to draw breath excruciatingly painful. Depression was a monster that did not play fair–sometimes whispering, sometimes yelling, but always repeating every ugly thing ever said to me by myself or someone else over and over and over again until I could not help but believe that it was all true. It robbed me of what was good and pleasant in life while heaping upon me all that I wished to avoid. My depression wreaked havoc on everything it brushed against, making it nearly impossible to believe that life would ever be worth living or that living would ever be anything but agony.I remember multiple conversations with my husband in which I made statements along the lines of, “I don’t think I’m going to make it to 30. It hurts too much to keep living like this. I think I’ll probably kill myself before I turn 30 because the idea of fighting into another decade is too sad and too hard for me to want to do it.”
But here I am. Thriving, happy, and healthy–emotionally, mentally, physically. It did not happen overnight. It was not the result of sheer willpower. It was not easy or always pleasant and I got plenty of bumps and bruises along the way. I did not get here alone. I had help from therapists, friends, strangers, family members, and most of all, my husband. It took a whole village to get me to 30 years old. While I know many people dread turning 30, I welcome it with open arms, my joy heightened by the grief I have journeyed through to get to this sweet number.