Depression and anxiety are a part of life for everyone. People experience highs and lows in life. Losing a job or a loved one can cause a state of depression. A fight with a family member or an interview can cause anxiety. However, with clinical anxiety and depression, your everyday life is affected. A lot of people struggle to understand it. Family and friends have a hard time seeing why we are the way that we are. I see anxiety and depression as a hamster wheel I can’t seem to remove myself from. For instance, the anxiety associated with regret and choices I’ve made leads to hours and days in bed for fear of facing the world. The days in bed lead to the depression state that I am unable to “handle” life. The wheel continues and becomes a spiral- and when I found myself at the very bottom, I looked death in the eye. This is not a story of “picking myself up by my bootstraps.” It’s not a story of “choosing happiness.” It’s not about “putting on my big girl panties.” If you live with clinical anxiety and depression, you know it’s not a matter of will. If it were, you would have willed yourself out of it a long time ago. My story is about being a 30-year-old woman with anxiety and depression, losing friends and jobs, living alone (with my dog, Meryl), identifying toxic relationships, feeling unloved and invalidated, and struggling to live in a world where mental illness is “hush hush” and a sign of weakness. This is my story about facing the stigma, pushing back, and giving a voice to the struggle. While I do not believe happiness is a choice, my series of current choices are leading me to feel better about who I am. My mental illness has changed from an identity to a recovery. Even though I will never fully recover from this illness, I am seeing it in a new light, facing it head on, and accepting myself through the struggle. I hope you will join me on this journey.