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The Birthday Wish I Made for My Depression

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11 months ago, I turned 18. At my party, when my cake was brought out – glowing with candles and covered in chocolate icing – I was told to make a wish. I stared at the colorful wax that was dripping slowly down the candlesticks and thought for a minute. Then I closed my eyes and blew out the flames. I never told anyone what I wished for, and 11 months later, my wish still hasn’t come true.

I wished for my depression to disappear.

I know those birthday wishes aren’t magical and that closing your eyes and blowing out a candle can’t change anything. But on that night, I couldn’t help but hope.

I’ve had a three-year battle with depression. There are times when it is unbearable, there are times when it is manageable, and every once in a while, there are times when it is nearly invisible. But it always seems to come back stronger in the end.

There hasn’t been a day in the past three years that I haven’t thought about the fact that I have a mental illness. There hasn’t been a day that the word depression hasn’t surfaced in my mind. And there hasn’t been a day that I haven’t wished for it to go away.

But I do more than just wish. I go to therapy, take medication and try to use positive coping skills to combat my depression. Sometimes – most of the time – these things help. They don’t make my depression disappear, but they make it easier to cope with. Sometimes, though, nothing seems to help.

11 months ago, I made a wish for my depression to go away. But really, the wishing never stops. Neither do the questions. Why me? I ask. Why did depression choose me? Why did it have to invade three years of high school and my first year of college? Why won’t it go away? Some days, it’s like I’m throwing a pity party for myself.

But I can’t keep wishing. No amount of wishing is going to make my depression go away.

Instead, I decided to join the voices advocating for mental health awareness. I started writing about my depression because maybe other people will read this and know they aren’t alone. And I found myself wishing less and less. I didn’t think about wanting my depression to disappear as much as before, because now I was thinking about how I could use my depression story for something positive – how I could add to the dialogue around raising awareness and fighting the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Of course I wish that I didn’t have depression – but at least now I can stop throwing pity parties and start channeling my struggles with mental illness into a platform for making change.

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Getty image via petrunjela

Originally published: January 10, 2018
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