Courtney Peterson


"This session was a struggle to decide to do. 

I have known several people--those who have struggled with depression and anxiety and survived--and others who have succumbed to suicide. 

I have had things happen to me at the hands of others that affect my daily life. None of those stories are solely and truly mine to share. 

But what I do have, I will tell. 

I have depression. Its lovely cousin, Anxiety, and I are acquainted, as well. I think it's partially environmental, but mostly chemical. It ebbs and flows. There are days when I'm on top of the world, and days when getting out of bed is a chore. 

At several points in my life, I've wanted to cease to exist. It's not brief or fleeting. It nags and gnaws at you. Even after it's gone, the 'hangover' lasts. 

I've been fighting it since I was about 11, and I'm tired. 

At about the age of 16, I felt myself slipping into very deep hole: envisioning car accidents where I didn't walk away, and the sense of relief these visions brought, knowing that I wouldn't have to wake up the next day. 

I was constantly trying to think of painless ways to die that wouldn't leave too much of a mess behind (even in depression, I'm practical). My mother, being the wonderful woman she is, picked me up, got me help, and stuck by me. 

I got better...until some time after I got out of the Navy in 2012. 

I can't remember which winter it was, but I remember that most of my friends had changed duty stations. I lived by myself in Virginia--far away from my family. My closest friends were in different states, and I was alone in a grueling, accelerated program for a medical assisting degree. I was financially strained. 

No doubt that these things were contributing factors to my oncoming depression. 

The medicine wasn't enough. I almost never slept, but when I could, it was a restless, dreamlike state. My nightmares were full of visions of car accidents, and again, the relief when I died in my dreams. 

On my worst day, I felt one of these fantasies while driving. I was thinking of how easy it would be to just swerve into the other lane. I even tested my car a little, eventually deciding against it, lest I hurt someone else in the process. 

They didn't want to die. That was just me. 

Hurting as I was, I was lucky that a close friend at the time, my church, and my pastor found me a counseling service. 

Between that and speaking with my doctor, my antidepressant dose was increased, and I was taught coping skills to help me navigate the very choppy waters I somehow ended up in. 

In the midst of this, I started planning my move back to Ohio to be closer to my family. Other plans and adventures could wait. 

My most recent battle came around the end of 2015 when my depression hit me so hard that I was afraid I would fall in that hole again. This time, I didn't. 

Being closer to home may have helped; maybe I'm stronger now, or maybe I'm just lucky. 

Today, I'm pretty stable. Sadness is still a regular guest for me, but it's manageable (thanks, in part, to an anti-depressant and lots of love and understanding from my family and friends). 

I don't want to apologize for my health being what it is, and I won't spend time hiding it from people. Simply by starting The Stanley Sessions, Whit helped me reach that decision. 

It's not your fault. 

It doesn't take away the value of you or your words or feelings. And help is always there."