On an ordinary evening in late November 2015, a woman named Diane gave me hope for life after depression. I had known Diane for a few years and always found her to be happy and rosy with just a hint of sass like a Southern Mrs. Claus. I was dumbfounded to learn she struggled with depression for years. I’m sure she was equally dumbfounded to learn I also struggled. I just wasn’t the type of person you’d expect to be depressed. Laid-back, cheerful, energetic, and a bit brash at times, depression just wasn’t in the cards for me. Or so I thought.
Truth is, I fought the invisible illness for a long time and never breathed a word to anyone. How could I? I didn’t even know I could be depressed! My life was perfect. I grew up in a warm home with a loving family. My friends and I were close, and I did well in school and sports. I didn’t worry about money or my future or anything for that matter. I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when feelings of despair began haunting me in my junior year of high school. Images of suicide forced their way into my mind, and nightmares plagued my sleep. I thought I was crazy and wasn’t too keen on sharing that with anyone. All I wanted was for it to go away whatever it was and get back to being myself. So, I put my head down and plowed forward figuring one day I’d just get better.
Fast forward to November 2015 and I was in my final semester at Penn State. Earlier in the semester, I broke and realized I had to ask for help, or I wouldn’t live much longer. By the time I spoke with Diane, I’d been in therapy for a few weeks as well as on anti-depressants. Both were helping, but neither had yet given me what I needed most – hope. Hope that there was life on the other side of depression. Hope that there’d be peace after pain. Hope that what I suffered wasn’t meaningless.
“Hey honey, how ya doing,” Diane asked as soon as I answered the phone. “I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. It just breaks my heart. It really does.” Right away, I knew Diane understood; I could hear it in her voice. Diane wanted me to know that depression wasn’t the end, and when she told me there was another side to it, I believed her. Diane gave me hope, and hope gave me my life back.
As time went on, and I healed more and more from my depression, I wanted to do for others what Diane did for me; give them hope. Medicine and therapy are great tools for recovery, but nothing is quite as powerful as sharing lived experienced. When I learned Diane walked through the same darkness I was in and made it, that’s when I believed I could get better. But how could I share my story with people? How did I connect with people to let them know there was hope? I didn’t know what to do, so I just started writing. I wrote and wrote and wrote, and that’s when my book, My Perfect Life: How Depression Almost Ended It and How I Found Purpose Through Pain was born. The book is a series of stories beginning with the onset of my depression in high school and ending with my full recovery shortly after college graduation. These stories are goofy, relatable, and emotionally gripping. They allow you to experience the world through the eyes of someone secretly battling suicidal depression. Most importantly, they teach you how I found purpose through pain, how I developed a greater appreciation for the goodness of life, and how you can too.
Because it doesn’t have to be this way. None of us have to die from suicide. None of us have to suffer alone and in silence. I want people to know this truth; it’s why I wrote my book and it’s why I joined Minding Your Mind. I can’t think of a better way fight back against the epidemic of despair than with the bright, joyful lives of people who made it to the other side of their mental health battle. Because there is another side for all of us. So please, if you’re walking through darkness right now, always remember what I forgot – that there is another side to your pain, and on that other side is a rich, wonderful, beautiful, fulfilling life that you deserve.
To purchase a copy of My Perfect Life please visit Lucas’ website lucasawolfe.com.