What do you want to do with your life?

That question has been hounding me for a long time. Since I was in high school, I was trying to find my purpose like so many others my age. We were asked that question since we were little kids and, given our lack of understanding of the world as a whole, we’d naturally have no idea. Eventually, I went to university thinking that I’ll find my answer there. In a way, I did. Though, it wasn’t the way I had expected.

As an underachiever, I quickly learned how harsh our world was. I was somewhat spoiled and sheltered before I attended university so I wasn’t ready for what awaited me there. High school was very easy as I got through the classes with little difficulty. I thought I’d finish university easily like high school and just move onto a good career. Therefore, I didn’t change my attitude and habits as I was unaware of what I got myself into.

It all began with grades dropping. At first, I struggled with my courses but I hadn’t failed any. Then, I was unable to find internship while everyone around me did. Finally, a few failed courses broke me. My hopes and dreams were shattered as my way forward seems to be blocked by an obstacle I had no hopes of overcoming. After all, all these setbacks occurred in areas that mattered, areas that are make or break when it comes finding a good job after graduation.

It didn’t take long for depression to knock on my door. It wasn’t a knock really. More like it smashed through the door and made itself at home. I had this uninvited guest who turned my inner sanctuary hellish. Wherever I stop, it’s there to remind me of my failures. It wanted to remind me that, regardless of what I do, I won’t change anything. I was born a loser and will die one.

How does one live with such a guest? I tried to shut it out. I tried to force it out. I did nearly everything but it refused to go. It intended on staying and I was powerless to deal with it. I had to tolerate it best I can until I die. Like so many others, I considered an option that can end this misery. I was tired and wanted to rest very badly. In a way, depression has turned me into an old man wanting a way out of the pain and suffering.

I have contemplated about suicide. I really did. The odd thing was that I attempted it once and only once before. It was nearly a decade before depression came knocking on my door. Since that day, I made a promise to never even consider it an option. The present me appreciates the me who kept the promise to this day. I don’t intend on break that promise ever. While I did cross one thing off, I still needed a solution to this problem.

Despite having struggles at school and depression within, my life must still go on. The first few months were difficult. My steps were heavy. Everyday seemed cloudy with a good chance of a storm. I pitied myself every day and wondered why it had to be me. There were so many other people around me that any of them would do. I feel ashamed that this even crossed my mind. What do I know about the battles other people are facing? For all I know, they might be facing tougher battles than me.

I steadily discovered that the solution to my depression was a change of perspective. It sounds so simple but it’s really hard to master. My worries and doubt were creating this depression within me. I created this monster and thought that it showed up uninvited. Just as I created it, I also had the power to defeat it. It wouldn’t be that different from stories where the protagonist must defeat the creature they let loose. The only difference is that I let it loose within me.

Instead of pitying myself and hoping for a miracle to happen, I’ve made up my mind to fight the depression. Positivity is always a good place to start. Given my situation, remaining positive isn’t easy. I dug myself into a deep hole that is tough to get out of without hard work and time. Like pursuing a large dream, I can only take it a step at a time and a day at a time. Rushing and taking shortcuts won’t get me anywhere. Slow and steady wins the race. Mine is a long race but I already know who the victor will be.

A change of perspective has made a big difference. Now, I am still human and can get depressed. I also dwell on the past too much. A mistake or an argument I had two weeks ago still lingers and crawls into my mind from time to time. This isn’t my idea of living but it sure beats the days where storms raged every single day. It was a struggle to get through each hour, let alone a single day. Against these overwhelming odds, one instinctively recall the past, especially the past where worries and pain never existed.

It’s true that we all get depressed due to different reasons. What worked for me might not work for others. Yet, it’s foolish for anyone to claim that they tried everything and nothing worked. They have merely tried everything that doesn’t work so they are getting closer to finding the one way that does. I suggest that you should keep going and keep searching. The hardships we face with mental illnesses were never meant to give us pain and suffering. They are these to prepare us for greatness because no great people reached the stars without overcoming hardships first.

Rick can be found on his website