Depression is Not Alone Depression first took grip of my life when I was 13 years old. After a seemingly normal check up with my doctor, my doctor pulled my mother aside to express his concerns. At that age, I didn’t fully understand the meaning of the word. Sure, I was sad, but I didn’t have a condition. My parents felt the same way. I was a teenager amid the frightening and awkward middle school years. I might be irritable and moody from time to time, but of course, undoubtedly, surely—I was normal. When I was 16, the murky and unexplainable feelings returned with a vengeance. Major family problems helped me rationalize the pain. I told myself once this difficult time in my life has passed, I will be ok. After it did, I reasoned that once I am older and more sure of who I am, I will be happy. But depression is not a mood. Depression is the ever-present pit in your stomach that can envelope you like a black drape and leave you gasping for air. Other times, it is a ball and chain wrapped tightly to your ankle, rendering you frozen in bed. It can even act as a hollow, lifeless, nothing. On the worst of days, it is everything—an all-consuming devious liar that convinces you it is the only thing your bundle of bones and cells are made of. But it is not an hour, a day, or even a two-week long snippet of your life. This illness is a chronic disease, and it is time we start thinking of it this way. Today, I know that my depression has no cause. I may feel on top of the world one day and cry until my skin is raw the next. Logically, I can acknowledge the gratitude I have for the people, opportunities and luxuries in my life. My mental health condition, however, is anything but logical. It distorts reality to such a great extent that it verges on the edge of unrecognizable. Persistent. Pestering. Coming to terms with my depression meant finally accepting it is not a mood that simply fades away. My depression does not define me, but it is deeply ingrained within my life story. If it is in yours too, that absolutely does not mean you should give up hope. Every day you wake up to fight the beast, you are acting upon the resilience, courage and bravery of your being. Healthy coping allows you to banish a part of the darkness and bring forth the warmth and light of your incredible life. We are not broken beings, but warriors against a lifelong condition. Share your story, message, poem, quote, photo or video of hope, struggle or recovery. By sharing your experience, you can let others know that they are not alone.