In my struggle as a 21 year old dealing with depression, I didn’t know I was depressed until I wanted to change. 

It was a slow process of devolution, one that I was largely unaware of while it was happening, like a frog sitting in cool water as it turns to boil. I had issues with substance abuse, that progressed from occasional usage to no longer having sober moments. As dependencies and tolerances grew, I no longer got high or low. I was in a constant state of physical, mental, and emotional numbness. I didn’t feel anything anymore. I became a shell of a person, merely going through the motions. I was a robot.

One day, I realized what I had become, and I realized I wanted to change, but I didn’t know where to start. I started to trace it back, in an attempt to figure out what had become of me. And then it hit me. The drugs. The constant numbing of my body, mind and emotions no longer just affected me while they were in my system, but had become me. Why did I do this to myself?

I think it started with a need for validation. A lack of internal peace. The fleeting moments that provided me with such pleasure I mistook to be happiness. I was constantly comparing and measuring myself against others, and I couldn’t just accept and be happy with who I was. I saw people around me seeming to have the time of their lives while smoking bowls and doing lines, and I wanted to feel that way. I wanted to feel confident and happy.

I was lost. Much of my life had become about finding identifiers. I wanted to find a group or a way to label myself, whether it be positive or negative. College student. Lacrosse player. Pothead. Fraternity brother. That concern wasn’t about finding who I was, but rather about finding a way for others to see me. I had become more worried about my peer’s perceptions of me than how I perceived myself.

I had no sense of inner peace, because my peace revolved around external perception, which can never be totally satisfied, because you can’t make everyone happy. So I stopped worrying about how other people saw me, and that was the moment I became me. I put my happiness first. I cut out the boozing, the drug abuse, and the focus on the ego. I started meditating and working towards inner peace. I became happy.

I started to feel again, and I feel everything. I feel so much now sometimes I can barely stand it. I feel the highs and the lows and every inch of the spectrum in between. But I fucking love it. I wouldn’t change it for a second.

As a happy and loving person, I can spread happiness and love. I couldn’t do that out of numbness. All I could spread was more numbness. So now that I have nothing in my heart but happiness and love, I do my best every single day to instill happiness and love in the hearts of those who are open to a little more.