I hear the alarm sound at 5:00 am and I rise –slowly, but surely.  I let my feet dangle on the side of my bed, inhale and exhale, have a short quiet moment with the Creator, and then I begin my day. This 5:00 am routine occurs roughly 23 days out of the month. Its maintenance is essential to keeping my life in order. Currently, I am writing a book and a collection of poetry, working on an EP, taking paralegal classes, commuting three hours per day, and averaging 10-hour days at my place of employment to finance my life and dreams. Although my weekends are mine and spent playing catch up, I still rise before the sun. There are only seven days out of my typical month that I am able to see the sunrise as I start my day. This is my life, and I do this all while suffering from depression.

I did not realize how much I appreciated the sunrise until darkness became not only what I saw, but what I felt.  While this illness can be debilitating at times, I, nonetheless, fight. I fight it with light, love, therapeutic conversations, and through a constant renewed relationship with the Creator. Sometimes the fight requires a simple breathing technique and a reminder of my beautiful life — despite family issues, long days and nights, and the overall exhausting lifestyle. Other days I find myself crying at my desk, praying for God to take it all away or I find myself reaching out to loved ones, asking for prayers or even crying over the phone at work with my partner.

One night in 2014, I called my best friend to tell her I wanted to crash my car into a guardrail. I knew then that I could no longer consider my random crying spells, mood swings, and feelings of helplessness as having a "moment". Thankfully, I have since never found myself that low in thought and I have since created a circle of family and friends who are anchors when I need to be lifted. This circle and my dreams are two main factors that keep me from having dark moments often, and prevent them from lasting too long.

So what does this mean for my life? It means that with depression I have to work twice as hard to not let life get me down. It means that those closest to me have to be emotionally intelligent. It means that I have to, as my mentor Tami Latrell says, “live my life with intent.” It requires me to be present — and that's half the battle. It means I fight back thoughts of worry and concerns of future events that I cannot foresee and ultimately may not be able to control. It means I have had to remove people from my life who I have known for years because they were not good for my mental health. It means I have to be aware of the foods I consume, all the while not becoming obsessed with my diet. It means that I must constantly attempt to achieve balance in the midst of my routine while cultivating my dreams. And although many of the aforementioned tasks could be requirements of anyone pursuing their dreams, because of my depression, it means for me that my to-do list is a bit longer.

Balancing life between depression and accomplishing dreams is something many grapple with. What having depression and a dream centrally means is that I have a story, and that story, as it unfolds, can be used to inspire others. One task at a time, one prayer at a time, one morning at a time.