I was first diagnosed with depression when I was 13. I noticed things were different between my peers and me. I seemed to slowly separate myself from others as the cloud of depression settled in my day to day activities. Though I was diagnosed early in my life, it did not stop me from being incredibly involved in my high school years (I participated in drama, art, sports, and coaching). All during this time, I was in and out of the hospital for seemingly uncontrolled depressive episodes. I also dealt with an anger so sharp that I worked hard to hold my tongue. I hurdled through various medications and therapies with only small boosts in my mood.  Later in college, and through the help of my friends and family, I realized that I had more power over my health and began to consciously work to a goal of peace. I figured out that I wanted to work with others struggling with mood disorders. I am currently in my second year of a masters program in clinical psychology. I still struggle with a newly (and correctly) diagnosed bipolar disorder, but I have become an advocate for myself while learning to advocate for and help others. I have found my calling. I have struggled with a mood disorder for more than half my life, but I wouldn’t change a thing. Surprising, huh? My experiences shaped and molded me into the empathetic and caring person I worked so hard to become.  I hope my story sheds light into the fact that even though we all have challenges, we can take them and learn from them. These challenges can become our roots, where we are deeply rooted and firm in our experiences in our own tree of life. I have learned to sway in the stormy days, but not break, to have family and friends support me when I feel brittle, and to consistently water and feed myself so that I may continue to grow and prosper.

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