I would like to start off by saying I am one of the many people to be hindered in life by depression.

Many people who don’t necessarily struggle with depression think of it as only being overly sad; I’m here to tell you that is far from the truth.

Depression can come in many forms and in unexpected places in your life. For me, it is mostly caused by being insecure in who I am and the fear of being uncomfortable. These burdens have held me back from doing a lot of things in life I thought would be interesting, simply because I thought I would never be good enough anyways.

This made the deep, dark pit inside of me deeper and deeper, day after day. I have struggled with this for as long as I can remember so I don’t necessarily have any idea of which age it had all begun, but I do remember the first time it had subsided enough to where I stopped noticing it every day.

When I was 14 my brother invited me to go to youth group with him, which wasn’t anything new. I used to go to a different church where I never really fit in, which had only added to my pain of feeling like an outsider. I didn’t want to go with my brother in fear of being uncomfortable, but I bit the bullet and decided to go because I had nothing more to lose at the time.

And it was the best choice I had made in years.

I finally felt alive.

That lasted for about 2 years, up until my 16th birthday.

A few months after I had turned 16, my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away that same month. All of a sudden, the pit in me had resurfaced, but it was different this time around. I realized it was grief, but it felt oddly the same.

I did what I had always done with those sorts of emotions– I buried them in hopes I wouldn’t have to deal with them.

Not only had I lost a loved one, I had also lost myself.

If you were to think of people as a painting on a canvas, with all the beautiful colors as emotions and personality, it only took 30 days for the beautiful painting, which made me who I am, to be torn to shreds.

I was a blank canvas.

I remained blank for 4 years. I had eventually tried to paint the blank canvas that I had become with alcohol and a very unhealthy amount of partying, which always ended in failure. Eventually the deep dark pit in me had grown into an abyss. That was when I realized it was truly time to claw my way out or there would be no returning to the light.

I remember a night I was hanging out with some friends. I was extremely drunk and I began to cry randomly. If you’ve ever met me, you would know it just wasn’t something I ever did. When I was young, my mom would even joke that I had to be nice to my older brother because he has something I don’t… feelings.

That night was my rock bottom. Soon after my breakdown, I had decided to cut my excessive partying and drinking to a once-in-a blue-moon kind of thing, and to start doing things that would benefit me like reading, running, hiking, and alone time.

Slowly but surely I started to see the light.

But it had also allowed my suppressed emotions of my father’s passing and the feelings of worthlessness to come out of my system all at once. I later found myself crying about things that didn’t really even matter to me, which was very overwhelming and uncomfortable.

In my past when I would be uncomfortable, I would suppress whatever it was I was feeling. I never thought I would have to deal with those things. But when I decided enough was enough, I let my emotions flow the way they were intended.

That choice made it so I was no longer clawing my way back to the light.

It was more as if I was climbing a ladder to the light.

I still have not reached the light and maybe never will, but at least I see it now. As long as I live, I will keep striving to reach it. I still have a long way to go, but the more positivity that I add into my life, the closer the steps on the ladder become.

If you are the type of person who hides their emotions and keeps suppressing them in fear of being uncomfortable– trust me, it will be a lot less uncomfortable once you start dealing with them head on rather than burying them.

When you bury your emotions, you’re only burying yourself.

Just stop.

Look for the light.

Even a sliver will do.

Trust me, there’s still hope.

IMG_8437Austin Stevens is a Pacific Northwesterner, passionate about health, travel, and the outdoors. He is particularly invested in writing about topics related to mental wellness. Austin hopes to be a voice of humor, hope, and authenticity to those experiencing personal struggles, as he openly shares his own journey. He is currently pursuing a career in journalism.