Host and Producer, Fresh Ground Stories
Living with depression

A storyteller and TEDx speaker coach, Paul Currington decided to start sharing his own story of his “lifelong friendship with depression” after an attempted suicide. He sought help and also began treating his depression like an addiction. Today, he says his life “has never been better.” Even though he still has an occasional bad day, he doesn’t let himself fall into a pain spiral. He says instead of wishing he was happy he now does things that make him happy.

Paul’s Story

How has your illness impacted your life?

It kept me from taking chances in life because I was convinced I would fail or no one would like me. I had a daily conviction that things were only going to get worse. It also prevented me from being completely honest with people because who wants to be around someone who lacks hope?

What was your most difficult time?

When I attempted suicide because of a breakup. It was the first time I fell under the spell of a full-on panic attack.

What helped you get well and move to stability?

I spent the next two years doing everything I could to change my life. I exercised. I ate better. Even though I never had a problem with alcohol, I started going to AA because I discovered if I treat my depression like an addiction I’m able to deal with it better. I also started two medications that allowed me to use all these new tools to move ahead in life, instead of just treading water hoping to survive. The second half of my recovery has been helping others to share their stories. I’ve gained enormous strength from seeing people find the courage to talk about things they’ve never told anyone.

How do you manage your condition and stay healthy?

I exercise, eat healthy, get enough sleep. I remind myself every single day that I have to do things I love and care about in order to be truly happy. At one point, I was thinking, “I want to be happy.” It struck me that “to be” was a verb and that if I wanted “to be” then I have “to do.” I have to live my life like a verb. I used to think of things I’d like to do but I would never follow through and actually do them. I know now that this is a life or death question for me. If someone needs help moving or asks me to share my story, I do it. Even if it is inconvenient, I know that helping people makes me happy and I will be glad I did it in the long run.

What advice would you give to someone struggling with a condition similar to yours?

It’s possible to feel better. Help is there if you ask for it. Seek support from others who have been there. It is crucial. The best thing I did for myself was to find people who had been through what I was going through.