21 years old may sound young, but I feel as if I have lived a hundred years. Because, as those who suffer know well, depression causes time to slow almost to a stop - one of the biggest reasons why this disease is seemingly impossible to live with. I am a college junior in a beautiful mountain town, have a fantastic job in my field of interest, many close and caring friends, my own home, and an extremely loving family. So why do I find myself avoiding those constant thoughts of suicide that only those with depression know so well? Because, contrary to popular belief, it is not something that one can control. It is not a choice. At an age when my brain was supposed to be developing the most basic of skills, I unfortunately experienced a trauma that put me into a shock that prevented such learning. It is the same as skipping several grades and going straight into junior high…the mind is not properly prepared. So I developed Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Bipolar Disorder I - or maybe Borderline Personality Disorder, we’re not sure yet. And that’s what these diseases are, unending questions and uncertainties. Unlike cancer or diabetes, there is no blood test or X-Ray that can tell a doctor what you have and, subsequently, what medication you need. Emotional disorders are a mystery that are rarely solved quickly, if ever. It is a constant game of trial and error that can often cause the patient to be worse off than they were initially, making it very easy to lose motivation - something that is hard to come by for us. And the lack of motivation cannot be interchanged with “laziness” or “a personal choice,” it is a symptom just like tremors are a symptom of Parkinson’s, making it next to impossible for a patient to take the battle upon themselves. However, there can always be a light at the end of the tunnel. After 3 suicide attempts, 1 stay in the mental hospital, and a year of treatment under my belt, I can very happily say that I have seen it. It is a very dim and distant light, but it is there. And that is one blessing that depression and other mood disorders grants us: the opportunity to notice the small glimmers of hope and happiness that others overlook. I have to remind myself many times throughout the day that the light is there, but that is okay because now I have something to live for. It is as if I have been living underwater for 21 years, unable to see, move, breathe or hear clearly. I am learning to look toward the light at the surface of the water and to swim toward it - just like I learned how to add and subtract. I am given homework by my therapist, medications by my psychiatrist, and support by my counselor. Not to mention the endless and very necessary help from my friends and family. Even for me, there is hope, and I can finally feel optimistic. Some of you may be worse off, better off, or may not suffer from a mood disorder at all, but know that if you or a loved one are struggling to find a reason to live that it will come when it is least expected. It may just come in the form of a dim light, or it may come in a form unique to you or your loved one - just know that it will. It takes hard work, perseverance, and above all patience, but if it can be found inside one’s self to believe that it will appear, no matter how deep down that belief may be, then it will. There will come hope, for it was always there; the soul simply needs help to find it.