The answer is at once stunningly easy and ever so complicated.
Obviously, being born was a highlight. Without that, none of this would be possible.
And there are key benchmarks along my life’s journey that stand out.
These include, but are not limited to:
- Learning to read
- Learning to swim
- Getting my first job delivering papers at age 10 so I would have money to buy model rockets.
- Learning to sail and growing up on a creek that emptied out into the Chesapeake Bay
- Meeting my wife and getting married
- The birth of my children
All these flash at once and compete for top honors, especially getting married and having children.
I feel so lucky and blessed to have all of these “best things” to remember. My journey through life has been filled with “I am so lucky” moments. Heck, I even had a summer job collecting water samples on all the rivers feeding the Chesapeake Bay. They gave me an 18’ Boston whaler with two huge Mercury outboards and sent me up rivers chasing the rising tide.
All summer I said, “I can’t believe they are paying me to do this.”
But as I examine my life, the best thing that ever happened to me was disguised as the absolute worst thing I have lived through. And it is nine months after it happened that I can even begin to see the value in the experience.
The best thing to ever happen to me was to face my concealed depression.
Walking into the emergency room last year and saying out loud, “I have a mental health problem and I need professional help” was the hardest thing I have ever done. And then learning how to face depression, how to keep it in the open, and how to deal with unhelpful thinking and automatic thoughts became my daily mission.
READ MORE: If I live through this…
As I finally face depression, I am learning how to like myself.
And this process has opened the doors for me to be in the moment. I no longer spend most of my energy time-traveling into the past or the future. I can call out depression when it starts to whisper sneaky things in my ear.
And I am building strong, real, relationships that are incredibly satisfying, on levels I never knew existed.
Last April, all I saw was the wall I was pushed up against. I could not see the next day, let alone that this action was going to yield any positive results. Moving me forward was knowing that continuing to do what I was doing for 43 years and expecting different results was not the answer
Answering the question of “what is the best thing to ever happen to me?” is now clear.
Facing my concealed, high-functioning depression after 43+ years is my #1 best thing. This has given me a new lease on life. I now have an authentic, more balanced life as I face depression and keep it out in the open. And I have a chance to live a life in the moment, with all the feelings and emotions I so desperately avoided in the past.
READ MORE: Why couldn’t I see the obvious?
I am still learning how to deal with emotions.
Having hidden them most of my life, letting them out is a learning experience. The very act of even acknowledging their existence was a big step for me. Now that emotions are in my world, there is more color. Things are not just black and white. This will take some getting used to, but I am excited about the chance to live with my feelings instead of masking them and hiding them.
What is the best thing to ever happen to you?
My concealed depression is written under the alias “Depression is not my boss.” I have certifications in SMART Recovery and am a Global Career Development Facilitator.
Last year, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder.