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I’ve struggled with depression since high school. I once blamed my circumstances, but as I grew up, I began to realize that my feelings weren’t always caused by external factors. Sometimes, I felt melancholy despite being in situations that should make me happy. I realized it after spending time with my friends on their boat. Despite the beautiful sunset and relaxing atmosphere, I still felt down. Even their best efforts couldn’t cheer me up.

My family recommended I try medication. Unfortunately, doctor visits and anti-depressants didn’t help much. Eventually, I stopped taking them and turned to other forms of self-medication. In college, I thought I had found the answer. Freedom, youth, and partying were the order of the day. It was easy to numb sad feelings away surrounded by friends, and an endless supply of alcohol. Looking back, I should have seen the warning signs, but it was hard at the time. All that mattered to me was that I was happy again, for the first time in a long time. I did not realize I was setting myself up for struggles down the road.

After those years began to fade, the drinking I had turned to for camaraderie began to change into something else. I had become addicted to alcohol without realizing it. It isolated me from friends, and the happiness it brought became more difficult to find. Meanwhile, the negative side effects slowly got worse. To add insult to injury the financial crisis of 2008 made finding a good career after I graduated hard for me.

For many years I took work wherever I could find it, drifting from one dead-end job to the next just to make ends meet. I even had to move back in with my parents. Eventually, I managed to secure higher wages, and with some help from family, was able to get my own place. I thought it would make me happy because I was able to make my own decisions again.

The feeling didn’t last long, however. Work became increasingly demanding as more responsibility was placed on me. Stress began to take a toll. What started as a drink in the evening to relax, gradually changed into a dangerous form of high-functioning alcoholism. Like many addicts, I thought I could handle it on my own. I did not want to admit I had a problem, or face social stigma. After all, I had successfully hidden the habit from my family members for years. I began to use alcohol as a coping mechanism for everyday life. As long as I could numb negative feelings away, and still do my job, “What was the problem?” I thought.  

However, what seemed manageable at first quickly spiraled out of control as more drinks were required to feel the same. Tasks that were once easy, became difficult as I put on weight and my health began to suffer. The changes were gradual, so it was easy to turn a blind eye to them. The drinking made me happy, or so I thought.

Eventually, things began to slip through the cracks. They were minor, at first. A missed meeting here, a late deadline there, but as things began to add up it cost me many of the things I had taken for granted in my life. I lost relationships, friends, even my job. Sadly, none of that was enough to convince me to stop. I believed it was all replaceable, and that there were other factors besides my drinking that was to blame. It wasn’t until I woke up in the hospital after a night downtown, with no recollection of what happened, that I was forced to take a good, long look at myself. It was hard, but for the first time, I was able to recognize my problem. Most importantly, I was willing to admit to myself that the alcohol wasn’t really making me happy. In fact, it was killing me.

Fortunately, my story didn’t end there. Despite having to learn the hard way, I found the motivation in myself to want to change. I got a sobriety app, a support network, and a healthy routine. Now my life has completely changed for the better. That’s why I believe finding your motivation is the most important thing you can do.

Whether it comes from within, or you look outside yourself to a particular goal, role model, or religion for inspiration, it’s critical that you have this driving force in your life if you truly want to change. If you’re having a tough time finding motivation, don’t be afraid to ask for help, sometimes an outside perspective can help us recognize ourselves better. Even if you receive criticism, don’t take it harshly. Instead, appreciate someone’s attempt at honesty and use any hard truths you may hear as tools to build upon your weaknesses. For me, proper diet and exercise were key in overcoming my depression and alcoholism. Now, my level of personal happiness has never been higher.

I have had incredible results with a combination of exercise, health supplements like CBD, and the ketogenic diet. This diet not only helps maintain healthy body weight but also helps your brain and heart function optimally. Plus, once you see the results for yourself, you won’t miss carbs as much as you think. In fact, my co-workers still get jealous of my simple, yet delicious meals. They would not even know I’m on a diet, except for all the weight I’ve lost! Believe it or not, I have had consistent weight loss on an almost daily basis over the past three months since I started, but I have also been exercising regularly.

Exercise helps release endorphins that cause you to feel good naturally, helping combat addiction. Just a few hours of moderate exercise a week has changed my life. Everyday activities are easier again, and I have not has this much energy since high school. The best part is the consistency of my mood. I don’t experience the highs or lows anymore. I’m so much happier now and I know you can be too because if I can do it, anyone can.



About the Author

Layla Stephenson grew up in a Navy family and moved along the East Coast most of her childhood, but she has called Central Florida home now for over 12 years. She was in the hospitality industry for about seven years before she began working as an online blogger/author and a director of research in August 2018. She feels fortunate to have joined a company that genuinely cares about its customers. Her favorite place is the beach, and she would love to one day be able to open her doors and have the sand and water just a few steps away.