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Beyond Depression Lies an Italian Love

How a brave woman overcame heartbreak and depression and encountered self-love, through a powerful mantra.

Venture Love, Violet Ostuni
Venture Love, Violet Ostuni

Clink! I tossed my penny up and over the crowd, down it went to the bottom of the gorgeous Fontana di Trevi. I’ll never forget it. It felt firm in-between my fingers before I tossed it into the unknown, into the universe. “Wait… had I wished for the right thing?” I paused. Of course I had. It’s all I ever wanted. Nothing else came close.

Before my solo trip to Italy, I was anything but happy. My college professors, colleagues, family and friends would’ve never known it. I’d gotten so darn good. I became a pro… at lying, at faking it, at smiling with a twinkle in my eye, when deep within all I wanted to do was die and disappear, magically turn into dust, blend into the air, cling to the dirt and become mud under cold droplets of rain. I was D E P R E S S E D. And I knew it.

The first sign was the feeling of a huge gaping hole in my heart… where he once was. It’s as if my soul screamed, and scratched her way through the layers of muck I had used to quieten her. “Let me out!” But no. I chose my pride and hid my shame, guilt and my embarrassment. After almost 6 years of loving him, he chose to withhold his love. He chose to deprive my dried up well of all the lovingness he had once drowned me with. Instead, he gave it to her.. and her… oh, and her too.

The second sign was loss of hair. I’ve had long brown hair down to my waist since I was a kid. I remember pressing my hand tightly over my mouth in the shower so my big sister wouldn’t hear me. Showers were my “safe space” to cry and release the river within.

The third and biggest sign was a loss of desire…of everything. Nothing meant the same to me. My favorite topics in school were: English, Literature, History, basically anything I could learn that would challenge me to express myself and write. I had lost taste, physically and emotionally. I had stopped writing, my most beloved pastime and this broke me the most.

“How did I get here?” I was so hard on myself looking back. I refused to seek help.. and help was everywhere. Help was in the eyes of my Women and Gender Studies Teacher, it was in the eyes of my work-study manager, in the eyes of the freckled coffee guy handing me my weekly vanilla latte, and it was most in the eyes of the broken-hearted girl looking back at me in the mirror.

I knew better. I had always been a life coach to all my girlfriends. I knew what to say to strengthen and inspire action into them, but why couldn’t I give it to myself? It was hard enough dragging my body out of bed in the mornings, applying layer after layer of concealer under my dark, puffy eyes, and wearing my hair up in a bun to hide thinning parts. But somehow I knew that if I didn’t let that screaming girl in my soul out, she would run me into the ground, literally.

Day-in and day-out, I repeated these words as I locked eyes in the mirror. I never went a day without repeating it. It became my mantra, even on days when I felt ugly, and like I was lying to myself, I knew deep down it would become true overtime. “I am smart, kind and beautiful. I deserve all the love in the world.” Over time, crying in the shower turned into dancing in the shower. Chunks of hair in my hands, turned into a few strands and the gaping hole in my heart turned into a tiny crack I could mend back together. It took over 6 months to get over him, but I had done it. I had loved myself back to wellness from the inside-out.

Those days are now a distant past.

Tonight, as I look to my left I see a handsome, kind and intelligent man with pretty eyes eating his pasta for dinner. This man is my husband. As he pours me a glass of vino, he fills up my once dried well of depression with endless love, laughter and respect.

I had wished for the right thing, and perhaps my penny had indeed, been perfect.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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