Depression is nothing new to me; it’s been an ongoing battle for as long as I can remember. Behind my smiles, laughter, positivity, and bubbly personality lies an aching sadness, rotting me from the inside out. The lure of a life free from all the pain, a life where I could start all over again, lurking around the corner, taunting me to come try it.

Addiction and depression are best friends. One fuels the other. You’re depressed, so you numb the pain with pornography, sex, drugs, alcohol, gambling, you name it. Before you know it, you’re hooked. Or maybe it’s the other way around for you. Maybe it was the addiction that came first. And because you felt so ashamed of your dirty little secret, the lies you told, the careful hiding, that you fell into a depression.

Maybe you discovered your spouse is addicted to pornography or sex, so now you look in the mirror and hate what you see, because it’s not like the bodies in the Victoria’s Secret catalog or in Maxim–instead, it has some extra lovin’ on the sides and in the middle, the scars and stretch marks reminding you of the nine months spent alone with the sweet little angels sleeping in the next room.

Or maybe your hairline is receding and you’re balding a little. Your abs aren’t chiseled into the six pack of perfection like that certain celebrity she drools over. You can’t enjoy sex anymore because it doesn’t seem like it will be good enough to match what your spouse saw time and time again on the computer screen. You’re not sure you can please them anymore because their expectations are based on a false dream, manipulated just for the camera to earn the title “blockbuster.”

Whether you’re facing an addiction or someone you love is, know this: there is hope. Today doesn’t define you. Your addiction, your depression, your failures, your hurts; you are so much more than that. Don’t believe the lies.

You are infinitely more beautiful or handsome than the ugly self-portrait you’ve placed in your mind.

There is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of in seeking outside help for your depression. Talk to your doctor. Find a therapist or counselor to talk to. (And if it doesn’t work out with them, it’s okay to break up with your therapist and find one who fits you.) These professionals are trained to help you navigate this dark chapter of your life.

Take it a day at a time; even an hour or a minute at a time. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. And when you are back into the light again? Use your story to help someone else through their darkness.

[Editor’s note: if you or someone you love is in the grip of depression, please don’t hesitate to talk to someone you trust. And if you don’t have anyone to talk to, investigate these resources and get some help. You’re worth it.]