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Finding radical acceptance: from running from his family history of depression to finally accepting his diagnosis; how he found hope and healing

"Learn to believe in Radical Acceptance"

Written story

Share your stigma experience.

I appeared happy from the outside. I was the life of the party, personable, enthusiastic, and funny. I had recently moved back to my hometown after 6 years away, was engaged to my girlfriend of almost 5 years, and I did well at my job.

However, this was only to mask the negative thoughts and feelings I had experienced for years.

Fueled by a fear of following my dreams and failing, guilt and shame would consume me, leading to depression. I worried about being honest with those that were close to me out of fear of losing them. I loathed myself.

Growing up, I witnessed my biological mother destroy herself by not properly managing her depression. This eventually caused her to lose contact with my younger brother and me, which was difficult to handle in high school. Rather than deal with the emotions I felt, I suppressed them. Going to an out-of-state college allowed me the opportunity to escape the sadness I had felt at home.

I could be a new person.

The new me had confidence, swagger, and a positive outlook on life. However, as much as I tried to run from my problems and cover them up with positives, they would always seem to find a way to catch up with me. Like my mother, I turned to partying and drinking as my outlet, which led to numerous drunk and embarrassing moments. Those, in turn, would further fuel my guilt and shame, making me nervous to do anything positive for myself. It was a vicious cycle.

Despite all the signs, I couldn’t accept that I had depression like her. I didn’t want to think that I could lose control of my life.

Instead, I convinced myself that my stress was due to outside factors, not from within. I found every excuse to blame my symptoms on – School, job-hunting, moving to a new city, even a lack of sun! I tried everything to treat the “momentary” depression, from seeing therapists, to not drinking for periods of time. I had even moved back to Denver in an effort to find solace. I assumed being around friends and family in a familiar environment after my engagement would make me happy, yet I still felt helpless.

Then, on Thanksgiving Day, I finally ran into a dead end. My depression caught up to me, causing me to have a breakdown in front of everyone I was close to. In that moment, I realized that for years I had been trying to outrun my Depression and Anxiety, and by trying to cover it with positives, I had allowed it to slowly consume me. Rather than having a better life, it was crumbling around me. With my mask finally off, I no longer recognized the person underneath.

How did you overcome this experience?

I finally accepted that I had Depression, like my mom. After my breakdown, I enrolled in a PHP program and put my life on hold for a month. A Psychiatrist diagnosed me with Clinical Depression and Anxiety and prescribed meds. In group, I opened up to others who also were struggling like me. I saw the beauty within them, which allowed a glimpse of the beauty within me that I had been blind to for years.

Help others by sharing a brief, positive message.

Learn to believe in Radical Acceptance. We don’t choose whether we get a mental illness or not. However, we do have the power to control our illness and not allow it to control us. Be grateful for yourself, because YOU are choosing to get better!