September is National Suicide Prevention Month, but suicide is not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about the stages before then – the depression, the pain, the feeling of not wanting to go on – I want to prevent others from thinking suicide is the only option.
I know what it feels like, to want to go to bed and never wake up again, to hope you get in an accident that drastically hurts you – just so you can see who comes to support you. Having depression feels like you’re stuck inside of a cage, except the door is wide open. For so long I felt this way and I didn’t tell anyone, I continued to put it off because to me it wasn’t that serious. It wasn’t until someone else opened up to me about their depression that I realized how serious my emotions were, and how I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. We cover up depression, we don’t talk about it because it’s embarrassing to feel that way, and it’s not as widely discussed as other serious medical conditions because so many don’t consider it a real medical condition. It took me so long to understand that depression is not something to be embarrassed about, and it is serious. Depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain that could ultimately lead a patient to committing suicide. So why do we cover this up? Why are we ashamed as people to talk about this condition? Today, I decided I’m no longer ashamed and I want to talk about how I suffered from a serious mental condition.
I was diagnosed with depression on November 18th, 2014…so not even a year ago. The thing is, I had felt low for over two years but in November of last year I felt low, rock bottom low, and I knew I needed help. Throughout high school, I struggled to feel happy and energetic. There were times when I would just walk out into the hallway to sit in front of my locker and cry. That’s when I became embarrassed about how I felt – when I was sitting on the floor crying with no explanation for the tears. When I did tell people, I gained a burning hatred for the saying, “you’re not alone” because I truly thought I was alone. I let myself feel alone because I refused to let others in my life. As I moved onto college, that’s when I noticed how big of a toll it was taking on me. I didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning, I hardly had the energy to stand in the shower, I gained social anxiety due to a fear of believing others didn’t like me, and then at night I would lay in bed for hours thinking of all the things going wrong in my life. I wasn’t necessarily sad because of all this, instead I felt emotionless and had stopped caring about things. I was numb. To me it was no longer just a bad day, it was a bad life.
After an emotional phone call to the doctor’s office, a nervous car ride, and a fidgety appointment, I was put on low doses of medication to help regulate the chemicals in my brain, and was highly encouraged to open up to others and talk about how I was feeling. It’s easy remembering to swallow a pill before bed every night but the hard work came with learning to open up. Lucky for me, I had supportive friends, who even though didn’t know what I was going through, still had my back. They understood when I didn’t want to go out and deal with people, they’d lay in bed with me and watch movies instead of forcing me to talk, and when I did want to talk they’d answer my phone calls at 2 AM or attempt to make out what I was saying with tears streaming down my face. And as great as a support system is, I had to learn to support and care for myself too. I learned to accept new things into my attitude and schedule to help me out. Some of the practices I started are:
- I pray. I don’t pray for world peace or to feed the hungry like I had always felt the need to do. Instead, I pray for strength in myself and asked God to guide me through this journey. Prayer changes us, and we change things.
- I am selfish. If I don’t want to go out, I don’t go out. If I want to talk about me, I talk about me. When others disapprove of what I feel is right, I do it anyway – for myself.
- I started to look for the positive. I don’t always accept the positive, but I do recognize there is one out there.
- I unplugged from normal habits and have learned to step away from electronics when necessary. I got back into the habit of drawing, painting, and taking photographs. It gives me a chance to show how I feel on paper and then I no longer carry those feelings with me.
I’m not saying to others with depression to jump in and try all these things, but they’re there if they ever feel like trying something. Can I prove that they will work? No. Find what works for you and stick with it. If you don’t think it’s working, then don’t keep it up. Anything that’s making you feel negative, cut it out of your life right now. People want you to be happy and want you to make smart choices, so do think major decisions over before going through with them. Get other’s opinions and ask if a certain action appears to be working to your advantage or disadvantage. Depression, anxiety, and stress cause a great amount of suffering, and you don’t understand the cause for much of it, but you will get through it. People around you care and love for you so much, and I know you feel the need to push them away sometimes (and sometimes that’s okay), but understand they’re worried and want to make sure you are okay. If you’re not fine, don’t lie and say you’re fine. Try to talk to others, but we do understand when you just want to be silent.
For those going through depression, or are just at a low point right now, I’ve been where you’re at and I promise if you give it time that it will get better, you will get better. It’s been less than a year since I was officially diagnosed, and I feel better. I’m no longer on medication and am finding the positivity in my life. I understand how you’re feeling, and I want you to know you can be open with others. When the right person understands, they’re not going to drag you out places, or tell you, “this will make you happy” because we understand these things can make it feel worse. We’ll lay in bed with you just to take a nap, stay on the phone with you just to listen to silence, and we will eat a whole tub of ice cream with you if necessary. I’m here for you, your friends and family are here for you; there is a whole support system behind you that wants you to know: YOUR LIFE MATTERS.