When I was growing up I thought I was a pretty normal kid. Seeing as how there is very little basis for comparison at that age, I’m pretty sure we all believed that we were “normal.” It wasn’t until I got older that I realized how much the demons of anxiety and depression were making decisions for me.

Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

Depression lives under a 100lb blanket, and anxiety builds the heat underneath it. The two work so disharmoniously that you can only come to the conclusion that they must be strange bedfellows. Two antagonists hell-bent on convincing you that the way you feel is never going to end. Such a fate to befall, and the sadness that comes with the realization of how many people are affected by these diseases.

It was depression/anxiety that put my life to a stand-still for so many years.

It was my depression/anxiety that convinced me that I don’t deserve better.

Apropros to this blog, it was anxiety/depression that told me I couldn’t become a software engineer.

Yet here I am, making a go. Some months ago I decided that enough was enough. After a severe depression that left me clinging to life, I went to a mental health outpatient program to get myself together, and to start believing in myself again. What I learned there was nothing short of miraculous. At the heart of all my troubles was a distinct lack of self esteem that was prohibitive in me moving forward.

So I got it together. I got medicated. I got motivated. I went through the rigorous vetting process that is Flatiron School to have an admissions coordinator say “Yes, you are enough.” That was the kick in the pants I needed to finally accept my self-worth as truly viable.

My life has been nothing short of turmoil over the last few weeks. My grandfather passed away, my long-time partner has left me. Due to Covid my photography business is dried up, my musical outlet has dried up. The only recourse I could find was a full reset. So I’m moving to Madison, WI in order to live with my family, and finish school. Of all the biggest stressors that life has to offer, I’m experiencing 80% of them. Today, I’m suffering. But I will always hope for a brighter day tomorrow.

Flatiron School is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and I’m a mere two weeks into the program. The old me would have buckled under the pressure. Not from the material, but from my own view of myself. For the longest time I was my own worst enemy, and now I’m realizing I need to be my own best friend. I’m starting to believe in myself, yes, but I need to believe in myself the way others do. My friends, my family, my classmates. If I can believe in myself the way they believe in me, then my future looks bright.

I am, and will continue to be, an advocate for mental health. As someone who has suffered for decades, I refuse to be quiet. I refuse to be ashamed of what I’m experiencing. I refuse to believe that people look down upon me for my shortcomings. I’m a real person, the genuine article. I am perfectly flawed in so many ways, and that makes me perfect. You can accept me or no, but I will no longer let others acceptance of me hinder my acceptance of myself.

I will be forever grateful to my cohort and teachers at Flatiron School. I can’t remember a time in my life when I was with a group of people who so unflinchingly believe in each other. The hand is always extended, ready to grab you when you start to fall. Together we’re going to pull each other up the face of the mountain, and make better lives for ourselves. Though I realize that we may never meet in person, they are forever cemented into my life.

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