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Almost 8 years ago, I stood in my parents’ driveway, staring up into the night sky and I thought, “Depression is something I will never be grateful for.” It felt too destructive and too corrosive–too much like a thief–to be something I would ever appreciate. Depression is awful. It is awful for what it did to me, and more, for what I did to myself in the midst of it. It was killing me. I don’t know a more painful experience than wishing day after day, for years on end, that I did not exist.

Tonight, standing out on my back patio, staring up at the stars, I realized just how grateful I am. I am grateful for every step of my journey that has lead me here. I would do it all again just for this very moment of knowing myself to be complete. I wouldn’t trade who I am today for anything, and I wouldn’t be who I am had my life been any different.

I am deeply and profoundly grateful. I am grateful to the part of me who never believed the lies, and who kept me seeking the truth even when I had no idea that part of me existed. I am grateful to the parts of me that kept me alive. I am grateful for the beauty of grace that has touched my life and my heart on more than one occasion. I am grateful for all I have reclaimed, and all that was never lost. I am grateful to the dear people who stayed and loved me when I had no means of loving myself. I am grateful to the part of me that trusted myself, even as I claimed to not trust myself. I am grateful for a spirit that believed passionately that life is and can be more than what I knew of it.

I am grateful to be who I am. I am grateful for who I was born as, who I lived every day of my life as, and who I now know myself to be.

What you see here is a small and recent part of a journey I have been on for years. I have suffered a lot in it. I am awed by where it has lead me. The enormity of what I have done is too huge for me to fully contemplate. It is breathtaking. I know myself as whole in a way I was never convinced was possible for me. I don’t know what kept me hoping all this time. I don’t know why I stayed. I am enormously grateful that I did.

I would not change a day of my life. It was worth living. I can see now how beautiful it is, and always was. I can see me in it, and love what I see. In my darkest times. In my most shameful moments. In the self-loathing and stagnation. I can see me in all of it, and love what I see. This is worth everything to me.

I would do it all again. I would live every day the same. Just to have this moment.