Depression and anxiety can manifest in plenty of unique ways. For me, it was initially irritability. I chalked it down to teenage angst, as it became most prominent when I was 16 or 17. But when I thought about my family history, I wondered if there was more to it, and it turned out there was. A few weeks before my senior year of high school, I was diagnosed with mild depressive disorder. I was really proactive; I sought therapy, started using SSRIs, and was even inspired to pursue an education in psychology. Looking back on that point, it wasn’t even that disruptive to my life. Yet, it’s a defining characteristic of my identity today.

Fast forward about 5 years, when I’m an “adult” out in the real world, and I realize there’s a limit to what I can take on. I’m working as a behavioral therapist with kids on the autism spectrum, and one session with a kid goes haywire. The setting we normally had therapy in was occupied, so we had to move everything elsewhere. Add to the scenario a kid who knows how to push my buttons and an overwhelming schedule, and boom. I have my first anxiety attack. Throughout the next hour I looked like I had just run from a pack of hungry wolves.

Fast forward about 5 years, when I’m an “adult” out in the real world, and I realize there’s a limit to what I can take on.

Now we’ve arrived at the present, and I’m realizing quite a few things about myself. I’m living with mild depression and anxiety, and they work in tandem to collectively tear me down. I tend to get irritable and anxious when I have too many things on my plate, but I often lack the motivation I need to get off my ass and do something about it. It can create a harmful cycle of self-loathing and worthlessness. Depression and anxiety are one heck of a pair, aren’t they?

But, I’m also learning about what it is to really struggle, and how rewarding it is to overcome. I’ve got a great sense of humor about everything, and that gets me through a lot. In my opinion, the most important thing that I can do, and that I constantly do, is grow. You can be knocked down millions of times, but as long as you can learn from the scars and grow as a person, you’ll become better. And, every day, I do become a better version of myself.