I started 2019 broke. I had spent the previous 3 years of my life trying to accomplish the dreams of my girlfriend because that was easier than finding the strength to try with my own, and when in early 2018 that relationship deteriorated, I felt my whole world had come to an end.

Depressed, in September 2018 I moved to a new city — it was more about trying to leave everything behind than to work for my own dreams — and got a job as a sales representative. I was surprised to find out I was good at it, but outside of work I felt a burden I could barely take. I would sometimes cry while commuting or in the shower, oversleep and smoke pot every single night. That was my everyday. Work. Smoke. Sleep. Repeat.Jul 5th, 2021 12:24:51am

In December I just couldn’t take it anymore. So I quit my job and had to return to my parents house in the village I grew up in. At 25 I felt I had failed in life.

2019 caught me unemployed, taking pills to stabilize my mood and with no plans for the future other than to meet W.

I started talking to W. 6 years prior to this time, after chatting online every day for a year we thought we fell in love with each other. We had more in common than anybody we’ve had met in our whole lives, our conversations would last for hours and we really cared about each other’s day, but we had never met in person.

She was in Eastern Europe and I was in South America. After 2 years without meeting, we left it off of it and carried on with our lives.

Despite the distance our friendship was strong and even after deciding not to do anything to meet in person we still kept each other lightly updated on our respective lives throughout the years, in late 2018 we reignited the habit of talking every day and by New Year’s 2019, she had tickets to come visit me for 3 weeks.

W was going to arrive in mid February and I was broke, so I took the easy decision of selling my vinyl record collection and used the money to prepare everything for her arrival.

I remember vividly the first time I saw her at the airport. After being in an 15+ hour flight, she was still breathtakingly beautiful. We had been separated by an ocean, now we walked together towards the exit only separated by glass wall, a walk that lasted 2 minutes and felt like delicious eternity.

Those 3 weeks changed something in the way I thought. I couldn’t believe how this wonderful woman could say “I love you” and mean it when I had so little to offer.

I wanted to offer more than nothing. So once W went back to her country, my goal was, put simply, to get my shit together.

And I did. Well, kinda. I moved to a new city, got a job that I don’t hate, a place to live that I like and W came back and stayed with me for another 2 months.

Books

I spent a few months unemployed. My only occupations were sending CVs and occasionally going to job interviews, that still left me with plenty of time, so I started reading.

If I had to simplify my 2019 in a word that would be growth. And I own that sense of self-growth in great part to books.

Reading the existentialist novels of Camus, Dostoevsky and Sartre helped me to ease my anxiety and depression. My worries and self-judgement started to be as meaningless as life itself.

And with that mindset I came across the 2 books that would define my 2019.

The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker

As long as man is an ambiguous creature he can never banish anxiety; what he can do instead is to use anxiety as an eternal spring for growth into new dimensions of thought and trust

Becker’s idea is that we all know we live to die. Death is in our core and everything we do is to either avoid it, reach it or transcend it. “To live is to play at the meaning of life” says Becker.

A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine

This book introduced me to the ancient philosophy of stoicism. I found in Marcus Aurelius and Seneca’s words the ultimate antidote for the noise in my mind and learned the most important lesson of my life: “there’s things over which you have control, things over which you can influence and things over which you have no control at all.” Focusing on the things I control has been working out. I now encourage everyone to take a look into stoicism.

Psychedelics

As an avid fan of 60’s rock music I was always curious about psychedelics. In mid 2019 I was gifted a tab of LSD. Things were never the same for me.

3 hours into my first trip I just couldn’t believe my eyes, my body and how all my senses heightened, the infinity of the starry sky and how minuscule I was in the universe. Everything felt more beautiful, less evil, less scary and so much more meaningful.

The experience drove me to develop the habit of meditating, I started to feel more aware of my surroundings and developed better and more meaningful relationships with amazing like-minded people.

I am convinced that tripping on LSD helped me shape a view of life that doesn’t feel like a burden and I consider it one of the reasons this sense of self-growth has taken over my life, it’s a feeling that fills me with motivation and determination for the new year.

And that’s how depression, love, books and psychedelics made of 2019 the best year of my life.

Here’s to 2020.