My Two Lives

By: Lauren Hope

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I have lived two lives; the one before depression, and the one after depression.

Light to darkness. Homeowner to homeless. TV success to unemployed EBT recipient. Functional to suicide attempt survivor. Fit runner to overweight emotional eater. Hot girlfriend to thirsty thirty something with trust issues. Chaste to sexually liberated. Prude to eyes wide open. Perfect daughter to black sheep. Respected to laughed at. Praised to punished.

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I have lived two lives.

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Some nights I ask God, “Why does my life have to be this way? Why couldn’t I have a broken arm, a stomach flu, some mysterious illness that was visible? Why is this the cross I bare: Major Depression and Anxiety? Why God did I have to sleep in a barely running Volkswagen Beetle? Why did I have to do bad things to survive? Why did the darkness fall on me?”

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I have lived two lives.

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When I call out to him this way God does not answer. I feel alone in a pitch-black room, wailing, crying, pleading like David in Psalms. Then I try to ponder what life would have been like if I had not made the attempt, not walked away from my promising career, not pushed away my hot Navy boyfriend that wanted to show me the world.

Would I finally live in the mansion I always dreamed of? The ones I saw as a little girl when my family drove through rich neighborhoods and pointed to houses we desired. “I got that one. I got that one,” we would exclaim. We were pointing to places things we thought would never be in our reach but the game felt so good. It gave us a shot of hope of doing better than our parents, rising up from our dysfunction.

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I have lived two lives.

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If the abyss of this brain condition had not sank my life would I have won an Emmy? Would I have stood in front of my television peers, met Oprah and The Rock like I planned? I long for the promise depression took from me. Lord, would my husband be as hot as Shemar Moore? Would we have had the perfect American dream?

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I have lived two lives.

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Still nothing. I can never know the answers to these what ifs. I can never look depression in the face physically and beat the shit out of it for taking my dreams.

I cannot rewrite history. I can’t take back the missteps. I can’t remove the mental illness. I wish so much depression was a person, a physical form. I want the bitch known as depression to step to my face. I want to depression to apologize for taking away my hopes, dreams, self-respect, confidence, body, mind, and at times soul.

I’d give her one hell of a fight.

But I can’t do that. Instead, I make a daily choice.

I choose to keep moving forward. I choose to keep taking the meds. I choose to keep working the therapy, and lay bare the wounds no one sees. I choose to speak my truth. I choose recovery. I choose to be a light for others through my storytelling and advocacy. I choose to continue living.

And, there is no going back.

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I have lived two lives.

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 Lauren Hope is a motivational speaker, blogger, advocate, and Certified Peer Recovery Specialist. Hope recently participated in This is My Brave Arlington show this fall. She believes that storytelling has the power to change and inspire. She owns a blog turned business called Good Girl Chronicles LLC which believes in helping people own their truth, live their truth, and speak their truth. Through motivational speaking, blogging, and community events Good Girl Chronicles LLC gives people a platform to share their truth and effect change. Lauren Hope lives in Suffolk, VA with her emotional support animal Boo, and plans to publish a memoir about her life from emerging tv journalist to homelessness to finding purpose in storytelling.

 My website is www.goodgirlchronicles.com

 Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my story on this platform.

 

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