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Copyright © 2012 Luke G Donovan

All rights reserved.

ISBN: 1467940917

ISBN 13: 9781467940917

eBook ISBN: 978-1-62111-285-3

Library of Congress Control Number: 2011961990

CreateSpace, North Charleston, SC


Thank you for picking up my book to read. If I were there in person, I would shake your hand—or if you preferred, give you a high five or a Jersey Shore fist pump. Ever since I was nineteen, I dreamed about writing a book about my life. The following story is just that: my life, the people I’ve encountered, and all of the different experiences that have helped me learn and grow as a person. From the outside, my life seemed pretty normal. I grew up in the suburbs of Albany, New York, was an honor roll student, and graduated from college with a 3.85 grade point average. From there I took a job with an agency that works with adults with disabilities. Before I turned twenty-five, I received two promotions. However, it wasn’t until my midtwenties that I actually discovered “the big picture” in life.

So what exactly is the big picture? What characteristics are necessary for living a fulfilled life, in which you are generally happy, can work with others, and cause little, if any, physical or psychological damage to yourself or others? The list below isn’t exhaustive, but the three main principles that I believe are essential to living an emotionally pain-free life are self-respect, compassion, and a realistic attitude. Let’s address these one by one.

First, self-respect—something I can honestly say that I’ve struggled with all my life. I never really developed my own, separate identity, and I based a lot of my decisions and views on what I thought others would want me to do or what was popular at the time. Then, as I became older, I started to have what I consider “obituary thoughts”: if I kept doing what everybody else wanted me to do just to please him or her, what would my obituary say? “He just did whatever was the safest but really didn’t make too much of an impact on anybody.” The people who I’ve met and grown up with were also very susceptible to having others control their lives.

As I got older, for those of you who consider yourselves religious, I began to see that God didn’t create us just to follow somebody, to be somebody else’s doormat, or to be used or abused by others. God wants us to be individuals who love God, and most importantly, love ourselves for who we are by ourselves—not how others want us to be!

For those of you who aren’t religious, consider this: did your mother carry you around in her uterus for nine months, dealing with morning sickness and hours of labor that forced her cervix to stretch in pure agony, just to create another individual who was controlled and used by other people? Childbirth is very hard work, and it should produce an individual who can make a positive difference in other people’s lives, not someone who feels compelled to act and think like some android, with somebody else dictating his or her life.

Second, in order for people to live happy lives in which they can get along with others, not only do they have to have respect for themselves, but they also have to be able to see others with compassion. They need to be able to relate to people in a nonjudgmental manner and see others for their inner beauty, knowing that they aren’t simply some label or stereotype or defined by a single bad action or undesirable personality trait.

Finally, my third tenet to happiness and a tranquil world is having a positive and realistic attitude. In my youth, I didn’t think I could truly experience happiness because I always wanted more. The friends that I had weren’t perfect, but they were great people, and I still didn’t think my life was good enough. For some strange reason, like many young people, I just expected to have everything handed to me on a silver platter. My mother dated a man for nine years who told his children before they entered high school that if they worked hard for four years, college would be a piece of cake. When they got to college, he told his children to just work hard in college, and the rest of their lives would be easier. The truth is this: life is all about hard work.

I wasted about ten years of life suffering from horrible clinical depression. I tried psychotropic drugs, but they just made me feel fat and tired. I tried therapy, but I could never bring myself to really talk to my therapist. Instead, most of our sessions seemed to turn into staring contests that I didn’t get anything out of. I had feelings of anger, rage, and self-hatred that I stored for many years. The main way I fought my mental illness was just by talking to and learning from other people. It wasn’t until my midtwenties that I finally started to recover. I wanted to write a book to chronicle this depression.

I grew up as a child with absolutely no feelings of self-worth. I wanted to end my life several times. Yet other than being known as shy and quiet—although I could also be goofy and silly at times—I was able to hide my suffering pretty well. I remember my mother once telling me, “Everybody in our family thinks you have it together, but you don’t.” I had great grades in school and was involved in extracurricular activities. Still, I felt totally inferior to everybody else and struggled with feelings of anxiety and depression. I wanted to tell

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