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Work was my life. It was my identity. It was what validated me as a person. And then it all came crashing down, and with it came an emotional avalanche.
When I stopped working, my decades-long battle with depression and anxiety spun out of control. It was as if my life was whisked away from me in a split second and I was no longer a worthy, meaningful soul. Hopeless and empty, I decided to get help.
Work was my life. It was my identity. It was what validated me as a person.
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Realizing that I couldn't go back to a world where I was working fifty to seventy hours a week with three young children, I decided to take my experience and use it to help others. With that, I founded the mental health nonprofit organization Where Is the Sunshine? Establishing peer support and finding a network of people like myself has been a game changer. I learned not only to accept my mental health disorder but to use it to my benefit. Having depression has helped me understand myself and made me a more mindful citizen.
I'm more understanding of others’ struggles and a more supportive parent. My time with my children is valued and respected. My time with my spouse is less house and family business and more social and fun.
I never thought that having a disorder could make my life better. Yet I realize that not everyone has this experience. There are many people whose lives are turned upside down by mental illness, which can be completely debilitating. I'm very fortunate in that my Option B allowed me to help others and create a professional world that benefits me but also those out there who are struggling.