Overcoming the Impossible
By: David Pikka
I can’t even begin to describe how different my life is today after only two years. It really is astonishing to look in retrospect at all that has happened. For much of my life I lived in darkness. Not the afternoon hazy darkness, but a deep, heavy, midnight black. Depression ruled my life. It dictated my every word, action, and thought and left me defeated. Why? You see, for this story to make sense you must understand depression, and to truly understand something you must experience it. However, I will describe it as best I can so that this all makes sense.
Depression does not sleep. In fact, for me, it physically prevented me from sleeping and left me with night terrors most nights. Then I stopped doing things. I was losing interest and mundane things quickly became excessively difficult. Holding conversations, for example, became tedious…so I stopped talking to other people. My levels of irritation over pointless things rose dramatically, and I began to shirk responsibilities. The most important piece of depression is the emotions I felt. It was that feeling of utter loss, absolute anger and sadness, and hatred for everything.
How could anyone function under those circumstances, much less a kid? To put it bluntly; I didn’t. I gave up pretending that I was alright and everything collapsed on me. I was alone – trapped in a cage of my own construction and so very lost.
Yet I was not as alone as I thought. My parents tried everything to get me better, yet nothing worked. That is, until they found this program in Utah. A therapeutic wilderness program. They actually mentioned the idea to me, and I could not have shut it down faster. Why would I ever want to do that?
Months passed. My father took me to a convention in California that I really wanted to go to. Instantly I knew something was off. This request had been one of those insane things you ask your parents, like asking for a car as a Christmas present. So when it actually happened, I knew that something unusual was afoot. The weekend went smoothly, and I had a good time, but then we went to fly back home.
My dad told me that we were going to check that camp out and that if I didn’t want to go I didn’t have to. It left me pretty pissed off, but I complied. We flew to Vegas and drove to Nowhere, Utah over the course of a night. When we arrived, I was told to leave my wallet and phone in the car.
That’s when it hit me.
We weren’t here to just check the camp out. They were dropping me off. Nothing can describe the sense of betrayal and utter fury that I felt in that moment. With a few savage words, I departed and began on the journey that would ultimately save my life.
Was I angry? Yes – but today I am eternally grateful. With the trajectory I was on, had no one intervened, I am certain that I would not have lasted long.
I embarked on a journey on that day. This camp would involve daily 3-10 mile hikes carrying all of our supplies, intensive therapy, and heavy, heavy introspection. The real turning point came during my second week.
The sky was eclipsed behind the mountains that stood guard above the small valley which we marched through. Boots trudged through the thick sand with haggard steps. The sage brushed lightly against our clothes as if reaching out to cheer us forward, but the forty pound packs we carried pressed us down in a vile attempt to halt our progress. I could not walk much further, in fact, why should I keep going? I wanted to go home.
“I’m not going to hike anymore,” I announced.
After a short debate we stopped for a break, much to the distaste of my group mates.
“I don’t want to be here anymore,” I said, “I am tired of hiking. I hate it.”
At this point I felt alienated from the group; my counselor and I were away from everyone else sitting on a bright blue tarp below a juniper tree. The desert heat seemed to sink into my skin and my anger and depression flared. Yet, my counselor braved entering my vortex of isolation and hatred and spoke directly to me.
“Sometimes it’s not about what you want to do. You can’t just give up when things get difficult – you’ll never be able to grow as a person that way. Life will never be perfect. You do the best you can with what you’ve got.”
Life will never be perfect. Such simple words and yet they changed my life. Every day before I felt entitled to happiness. I felt like I deserved to have life be perfect because I felt like it was so unbelievably terrible.
This was far from the only lesson I learned out in the desert in Utah, but that nine week experience has morphed my perspective on life. Now, to me, life is the most wonderful gift I could have gotten back. It has so many amazing aspects that can be explored and so much to offer. All I had to do was open my eyes and see what was right in front of me all along.
Am I depression free today? Unfortunately, the battle continues. Depression is not like the common cold. It does not disappear after a couple of days. It is something that will probably stick with me until the day I die. This is not as bad as it seems, however. I know how to fight it now and in all honesty it has made me so much stronger as a person. I have rekindled the soul and life that had disappeared from my body for so many years. Ultimately, today I am so much happier, healthier, and living the life I never thought possible.
About David Pikka: After many years of deep depression and an adventure of recovery, I write from a unique perspective about how beautiful I have come to find the world to be. For whatever reason I have developed this hunger to write, and so I do. I write poetry, short stories, and am working on a couple novels as well as have a blog that helps me express my immense creativity. Make sure to stop by and check it out!
Thanks for reading!
Thank you David for sharing this wonderful story! You can find more of David’s work here.
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