It took some time to realize what happened to me. And perhaps even longer to want to admit it. But I was most certainly depressed.

I knew I was miserable, and I had plenty of reasons to be, but I hit a low that I had never experienced before and hope never to again. It had been a very tough year financially and emotionally. And the year began and ended with the loss of two close friends, both leaving behind young children and loving wives.

I started to lose focus, but even worse, I stopped caring. I kept myself as busy as possible to avoid having to think or feel, but no matter how hard you try, you can’t escape yourself.

I started to lose focus, but even worse, I stopped caringBut I was fortunate. Very fortunate. I knew I wasn’t in a healthy place, even though I didn’t yet recognize just how bad it was. But I did reach out to a few close friends who kept me stable, who reminded me that while things were excruciatingly tough they would pass, and that I would pull through. And, thank G‑d, I did.

Yet I understand how people don’t. And it is terrifying to think that I reached a point where I could identify with them.

I don’t really remember what changed. But one day I noticed that the cloud had lifted. Nothing specific was different in my life, other than how I felt. And when I could see clearly again, I noticed how for about a month I had been viewing the world through a horribly dark screen.

Recently, things have been extremely hard again for me. There have been a lot of health issues in my family, repeated trips to the emergency room, hospital stays, and a level of stress which manifests in my locking the keys in the car or forgetting the money I just withdrew in the machine. But there is a key difference between now and then. I am not depressed. I am overwhelmed, I am concerned, I am exhausted. But I am not depressed.

And this time, I believe deep in my heart that things will change. This will pass. We will be okay. It doesn’t mean that I won’t continue to have challenges. I don’t think one can do anything to escape them. But I do think one can be prepared for how to better handle them when they come.

I don’t really remember what changed. But one day I noticed that the cloud had liftedI am grateful that I experienced depression. Real depression. Because I now know the signs. I know what to look out for, both in myself and others. And I know that it must be dealt with, as no one should have to suffer with living in that state.

We are about to commemorate Tisha B’Av, the most tragic and destructive day for the Jewish people. And we spend the day in mourning, and fasting. We don’t greet others, we sit low to the floor and we hurt. We must feel the pain and experience the sadness. But only for a specific amount of time. Then we get up, recognize what we endured and move forward. And our Shabbat that follows is that of Nachamu, comfort.

But even more so, it is because of the destruction that we will rebuild, and when we do, we will not be destroyed again. This is one of the reasons that we are taught that Tisha B’Av is the birthday of Moshiach, for hidden within tragedy is the seed of redemption. When Moshiach comes, Tisha B’Av won’t go away; it will rather become a day of celebration. Because we don’t ignore what we have been through; it is not about denial, but about taking what was and transforming it.

I was living Tisha B’Av for more days than I ever wanted, but fortunately, for fewer than many. And while I would not wish it on anyone, it showed me how I never want to have those thoughts again, those feelings again, and just how much I have to live for. These days, when I experience joy it is on a far greater level than ever before, since from falling so low I am able to reach that much higher.

It is because of the destruction that we will rebuild, and when we do, we will not be destroyed againOn this Tisha B’Av let us remember why we are remembering, and use that negativity, that destruction, that death, to catapult us to a state of renewal and rebirth. And for those of you who feel you are drowning, you must get help. Scream for a life vest, or for someone to swim out to you. Tisha B’Av needs to be observed, but it is 25 hours one day a year—it is not to be the way to live our day-to-day life. Like the motto of a young woman I know, who has struggled tremendously throughout her life: “In the end, everything will be okay. If it’s not okay . . . it’s not the end!”

May this be a Tisha B’Av of reflection, feeling and healing, and may we experience its complete transformation as it becomes our greatest day of celebration!