"I grew up in a small town called Depoe Bay in Oregon, about two hours outside of Portland. When I was younger, I remember I enjoyed fishing, playing in the water, and exploring the wilderness. I think I was a natural fisherman. It was like an innate instinct - my dad liked to fish, but was not as fascinated with the water as I was. I have vivid memories as a toddler of playing on the shore, trying to catch fish with my hands. Now as I look back at it, it was probably the happiest time of my life.
As I got older, however, I slowly lost touch with this side of me. I went through college in the Midwest and did OK for myself. I graduated with average grades and got a job as an accountant. When I moved to New York City after graduation, I fell into the party scene heavy - visiting nightclubs nearly every night, chasing after girls, and drinking until I couldn't walk straight. Naturally I also got introduced to drugs and developed a liking to cocaine especially. It was the "big city" life that I always wanted to be a part of, you could say. But the whole thing was a big haze, and the more I indulged in that lifestyle, the more depressed I felt, and my liking to the booze and drugs only deepened.
Eventually I reached a breaking point. On one freezing January morning, after drinking the night away yet again, I woke up I suddenly felt like my life was worthless. With my head pounding, I had no motivation to leave my bed.
In that awful moment, I was ready to put a end to my life. But I didn’t do it. I probably would've been too scared to finally do it, but who knows. Never would I have thought that fishing, my old childhood love, would have come to my rescue. But that's exactly what happened.
The day after, I decided I needed a change. I left my job in New York and moved back to the Depoe Bay to spend some more time with my parents and away from the craziness of the Big Apple. For money I would help out my dad on his car repair business and also do some small financial freelancing work online for other small businesses and entrepreneurs. I wasn't getting paid the same as I was in New York, but it helped me make some extra money and build up some of my self-esteem again. I realized I still needed to get a hobby to blow off some extra stress. One day my Mom showed me some pictures of myself when I was a kid playing by the ocean, and that was when a spark was lit in me.
Early the next day, I took a few of my dad's old fishing rods and supplies and drove out to the coast. It took a some time to remember what I was doing, but I slowly I started to feel more and more confidence. When I went on the water, I could finally forget about everything else. I felt totally secure and in control of whatever I was doing. All of the stresses and worries I had been feeling had melted away. I had flashbacks to my childhood and was overcome with emotion. It finally felt like I was home. And everything that had happened to me in New York was just a bad dream.
I realized that the more time I spent in the wild, the happier I was. Studies done by the Max Planck Institute for Human Development show that people living in the city are more prone to depression, mental illnesses, chronic stress, and schizophrenia. They further explained that even city dwellers, who live near a forest, will have a much healthier amygdala. This regulates stress in the brain and can cope better with depression, stress, and anxiety.
It was a difficult decision to write this, because it's scary to expose yourself like this. Although so many people suffer from personal problems and mental health issues, no one ever wants to talk about it. I even had people ask me after reading this piece, “are you sure you don’t suffer from depression anymore?” And I always reply, "Yes, I'm sure." I feel it's my duty to share my experiences, to show how the water has forever changed my life. I hope my story inspires others to make a change if they're unhappy with their current situation and try fishing to escape from their problems.