Live for those who couldn’t live.

It was about five in the afternoon on 27th September 2009 when the doctor looked at me with troubled eyes and told me that I should make the decision to turn off the ventilator. He advised that they had done everything possible but, with great sadness, my son would not survive and I should let him go.

My little Liam had been born prematurely at about 26 weeks. Thanks to medical technology, they helped him live for eleven days but his deterioration and the lack of oxygen to his brain made his survival impossible.

I saw that little boy struggling to live; despite being so tiny he would not give up. We looked at him with the nurse who was at our side. Despite his terrible condition, my son was still trying to breathe, with his little fingers firmly wrapped around one of mine. As someone who has seen babies clinging to life, the nurse whispered to me "That's called a desire to live". Tears started streaming down my face out of a sense of impotence and, from the depths of my being, I knew his survival would not be possible.

Sobbing uncontrollably, I understood the wrenching pain felt by mothers when their child dies.

I fought with God throughout that time, begging him to let Liam stay with me, but I eventually stopped fighting. I finally understood that when you love someone you are not selfish, you can’t be, because that person’s suffering becomes your own; their pain is your pain, you become one - that is love.

I got on my knees in that room, I prayed to God and I thanked him for letting my Liam stay with me for those eleven days, but I was ready to open my hands and accept that he had to go.

When they turned off the respirator they took me to Liam - who was still alive - in a small hospital room reserved for parents to be with their child during their final moments.

I stared at his tiny face. I hugged his vulnerable little body and, despite all the tears on my face and in my heart, I managed to say with a breaking voice “Mummy loves you. Mummy loves you. Mummy loves you.” Those were the words that bid Liam farewell from this world.

It was very hard to overcome that experience. After a while I went back to work and slowly routine settled in my life again. Time always does its job and I learned to live again, despite the pain.

Four years later fear came back. The doctor told me that I was pregnant again, but there was something he didn’t predict and couldn’t predict, the activation of a trauma.

Fear came back with all its strength. I had a lot of anxiety during pregnancy, so much stress that when my daughter Sophia was born I was mentally exhausted, I didn’t connect with her and I ended up with severe post natal depression.

That year I was hospitalised three times because I lost the will to live.

With depression you are lost in an internal desert, you don’t connect with anyone, not even yourself. You live with a constant affliction, in a world that is threatening; your vulnerability grows more every day. You can’t concentrate, you have no joy, you lose taste, you can’t sleep, and slowly you lose the will to carry on.

We all have experiences that leave an indelible mark in our lives; we have traumas that can be activated or reactivated when we are going through a difficult time.

Many things can lead us to depression, like unemployment, the death of a loved one, the end of a precious relationship, an accident or the accumulation of stress in our lives, but depression is not something that hits weak people or pessimists, it can happen to anyone. Sometimes things are so hard that we can’t face them. Life can slap you in the face that you end up on the floor and you must cry.

Today I hug my 3 year-old-daughter, she gives me kisses, we laugh, play and run together, I hug my husband and I have even written a book about my experience, where I speak not about the disease but about the recovery process.

Today I walk under a splendid sunshine and the air feels fresher and even tastier! I can listen to the sounds of nature and I connect with people, but on a different level.

Yes, depression can also be a great master, it teaches you the value of life. Above all you see with another eye your work, your family and where you dedicate your time, love and energy.

It is good to access medication and psychological help, but we have been in this planet for millions of years and not always we had access to medication or psychologists, but we have survived as species in a natural way. Therefore you can learn how to improve your life by implementing other healthy techniques or therapies alongside your medical treatment; but we all have the natural capacity to come out of anxiety or depression and readapt to a new life. That is what our grandparents and ancestors did again and again. Suffering was also part of their journey.

We all experience emotional pain, that is unavoidable, but human beings have 30.000 days to live, a few more days than the bees but they go fast. We human beings have a life expectancy of 80 years nowadays, but remember at the end that is a prediction, it is not a promise. Therefore make the changes you want or you need so much, make that phone call you don't dare, go for that job you want... you never know until you try.

Walk in the hills or up the mountains where it is peaceful - alone or with someone who cares or maybe even a dog or a cat. In the hills and the forests, you can cry and scream - howl at the wind, do whatever you like to empty the bag of self-destruction that is bulging, accept the pain and slowly learn to walk again toward new projects, illusions, jobs or dreams because we need challenge and we need purpose.

Look at the moon and the stars in the night, or the sunlight playing with the trees or the rain watering the soil and live on behalf of those who couldn’t because one day I saw how my son had wanted to live on this planet of dolphins, tigers, birds, music, friends and gardens.

This is a fragment of The Key to escape your mental prison of stress, anxiety or depression (written from the perspective of a recovered patient)

For more visit www.doralizaranda.com

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