Hello, depression.

You know I hate you. How many times do I have to tell you? It’s getting old. Heck, it was old about a decade ago.

I’ve tried so hard to get rid of you! For years I thought I could just ignore you. That you’d go away on your own. That I’d grow out of you. That I could just exercise harder or eat better or pray longer and you’d get the hint and move on.

But alas, here we are again.

And you know, I think I’m starting to figure you out. After spending so much time with you over the past 20 years, I’m beginning to wonder if you’ll ever go away. So I’d better learn to deal with you. It’s either that or you’ll keep chipping away, trying to destroy me and everything I love.

The first thing I’ve learned about you is that you’re a phony. You are not an emotion. You, depression, are the lack of emotion. I used to mistake you for sadness, but I can see now that you’re different.

I can deal with sadness. Sadness is a natural feeling I get when my heart aches, usually when I miss someone. Without sadness, I’d have a hard time understanding what it truly means to be happy. But, depression, you don’t teach me anything about happiness. You are a numbness; a void. So I’m sorry to break it to you, but even sadness is better than you.

The second thing I’ve learned about you is that I did nothing wrong to deserve you. You aren’t the punishment for some misdeed. You’re a biological condition; a struggle of the mind.

I used to wonder what I needed to change in my life so that I’d make sure I never saw you again. What was I doing wrong? Maybe if I made more money or changed jobs or moved to a different place I could finally be free. Now I know that you are not the result of my circumstances. I view my struggle with you like any other workout. It’s going to take lots of time and dedication to put you in your place.

The third thing I’ve learned is that I have the power to choose my attitude. I always do, despite what you say. You and I have been face to face so many times, and lots of times you’ve convinced me that I can’t change; that I need to remain in my detached, numb, depressed state for a while longer and let it all just play out.

But you’re wrong. Even when you’re around I can choose to respond positively to the world around me. Even when I am depressed, it’s still my choice to do the things I do and say the things I say.

Because I choose to feel.

You see, I’ve got people who are counting on me, people who I love, and I refuse to just let them down.

When my son calls me late at night 20 years from now, I’m going to be there for him. He’ll probably call because, as a young father, he’s going to feel the weight of caring for his family. And that weight might tip the scales a little in his mind and open the door for you to sneak into his life too. And he’s going to need to talk to someone who can help him learn to feel again; to reject the numbness and start to learn some of the same things I’ve been learning about you and, more importantly, about himself. I’m sure as hell not going to just leave him to figure all this out on his own, the way I’ve had to.

So anyway, I just thought I’d set the record straight with you. Since you seem to like to stick around, you should at least know how I feel.

And I will always choose to feel.