Ever since the age of 12 I have lived through beatings of mild mental illness. It emerged when my hormones were exploding inside of me in the form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and then at 13 I began experiencing panic attacks so severe I thought I was having cardiac arrest.

In college, I went through my first episode of sustained depression and ever since my D-Day of February 8, 2001, I have never had a period of more than seven or eight months without undergoing some types of depressive symptoms.

At 28, I understand how much my condition has deteriorated my way of life. I have a full-time job that pays me well, I suppose, but I miss out on some of the really enjoyable aspects of life because of the illnesses. Never have I attempted suicide or abused drugs to escape the way I feel, but at one point I developed a compulsive eating habit and would miss work frequently.

A quote I hung up from the stoic philosopher Epictetus sums up how I would like to live my life:

“I must die. Must I then die lamenting? I must be put in chains. Must I then also lament? I must go into exile. Does any man then hinder me from going with smiles and cheerfulness and contentment?”

As I write this I am feeling a case of the afternoon hysteria that is unleashed by my biology and years and years and years of negative thinking. Epictetus words give me inspiration if nothing else.

I will likely always have a biological propensity towards depression and anxiety. That much I can be assured of. Until a medicine is created that fixes certain chemical imbalances, I can’t expect to feel no depression, no anxiety and no panic. Those are a part of my physical make up, what then else can I expect?

One thing I have learned is that I must never give up. The power of mental anguish is certainly strong, but inside of me is a greater power, one that can conquer what I can’t control by sitting idly by.

Part of how I feel is based in my brain chemistry, but a whole other part of it is psychological and spiritual in nature and from Epictetus words, I suppose I can gain more than I would were I still taking anti-depressants, which I gave up on recently.

If I must live on Earth–and certainly that is required of me–why should I live in sadness and fear? Certainly, there are things in this life that bother me and I am at a part of my life when I am unsure of what I am to do more so than at any other point, but is that a reason to handicap my experiences by entertaining the negative and hurtful thoughts that seems to appear automatically into my mind’s eye.

If I am to live in a world of uncertainty, then why choose to be unhappy? Certainly, there will always be days in which circumstances lend themselves to feeling down. But why perpetuate those feelings? There simply is no point. Sure, I don’t know what I want to do with my life, but maybe I will never and maybe not knowing what you want to do is normal and acceptable and one of those things in life that appears bad but is really a blessing in disguise.

Life it seems, is best lived in the moment rather than dwelling on what may be and what has been. Right now I’m at my desk in my office here in a Victorian era building in Albany, New York. Is there much more to really consider now? Why should I worry about where I am in two years if now in this moment I can’t be in peace? Shouldn’t peace be a thing for the present as well as the future.

Right now I feel the sadness and anxiety coursing through my muscles. But I have a place for it and a name for it and it seems to bother me less than it normally would. Certainly I am depressed, but I am also human and God has put me here. I am also in the moment and must not assume that life is meant for lamenting.