My junior year of college, I was depressed and suicidal. It’s a lot easier to claim that now than it was then. I was busy trying to deal with my emotions and tumultuous life during that year instead of getting to take the time and figure out what was really going wrong. On a small campus, there’s only one way to keep everyone from knowing what’s happening in your life: hide.
My depression had a few key causes behind it and the symptoms were pretty clear-I stopped going to class for the most part, cried every single day, stopped sleeping well at night and started taking lots of naps in the day to escape reality. I felt sad most of the time and either had a loss of appetite for extended periods or emotional eating for extended periods. I avoided people and only wanted to be around a few select ones who I knew would make me happy or by doing something fun. I had many thoughts of suicide, taking an overdose of pills in particular, because I truly believed that everyone would be better off without me, that I was making no impact on those around me, and that no one would notice if I just disappeared.
I didn’t have the courage or strength I needed to seek help from the health center or other trusted individuals on campus and because of that I came very close to taking those pills several times. At one point I even had to give the bottle to my friend and ask her to keep them for me for a week or so. Luckily I was able to hang on during that year, but continued to deal with “major recurrent depressive disorder” for the next four years.
At the height of my desperation, I quit my job and decided it was time to seek professional help. My family and husband supported me while I sought out a psychologist and psychiatrist.
Though I am not currently on meds now, every day is a battle, but I have a few key moments where I choose to push myself in the right direction. If I hear the depressed, discouraging, and self-loathing voice pop into my head I argue with it silently and with all the confidence I can muster. If I feel inclined to cancel everything (outings with friends, appointments, business related meetings), I push myself to go and interact face to face. Opening up about and admitting to my diagnosis among my closest friends has also been helpful. Some of them suffer from similar ailments and I believe, as Dinah Shore said, “If you don’t give people enough of a chance to know your troubles, then you don’t give them enough of a chance to love you.”
Above all I try to remember the good things in life, the ones worth that render existence desirable. The battle is ongoing, but it gets a tiny bit easier every day.