My depression isn’t something I like to talk about, but when I finally spoke up, I found the help I needed.
I was diagnosed with chronic depression at the age of 20. This wasn’t news to me because I’ve dealt with depression since elementary school. As time went on, depression stopped being a possibility. It stopped being a “what if” scenario, and became more of a “now what” situation.
Depression crept into my mannerisms, shaped my thoughts, and affected how I acted and reacted to things. I withdrew from friends, stopped doing the hobbies I loved, and spent countless nights lying awake and contemplating thoughts better left unsaid.
I coped with my depression without medication or therapy for a long time. Middle school and high school were rough, but keeping busy with school, work and friends distracted me from the weight I felt dragging behind me.
Keeping busy worked up until college. During my first semester at the University of Utah, I had a job, took 14 credits, and still managed to find time for my friends. Only this time around, being busy didn’t work. Depression hit me harder than it ever had. I still kept it to myself and pushed through. On top of school work, I worked nights and weekends at a restaurant to pay for bills and juggled my little free time between tedious chores. Keeping busy wasn’t helping, but it was making it worse.
For many of us, our freshman year is a vital time for self-discovery and a time for firsts. It is the first time we live on our own, maybe it’s the first time we get a job, and some of us find out that college is the first time we can’t procrastinate homework until the night before.
When three of my closest friends wanted to move down to St. George and go to Dixie State University, I jumped at the chance. I thought a change in environment would help me — It didn’t. I felt more alone than ever, and I could feel the weight pressing down. I couldn’t sleep most nights. I tried to go out with my friends to cheer myself up, but that didn’t work either. All of the tricks I knew used to work for me in the past weren’t helping me cope. This was my lowest point mentally, and on top of that, I had to juggle my job and school work.
Instead of looking forward to being busy, I dreaded it. When I casually reached out to my friends about it, they told me that it was just a phase, and I’d be back on my feet in no time. This may be good advice for someone else, but I knew I needed professional help.
Out of options, I told my parents what was wrong. After a year of attending DSU, I decided to move back with my parents and attend a community college in Salt LakeCity.While there, the number of responsibilities decreased. I was still hesitant to see a doctor. He suggested therapy, but I wasn’t able to juggle another ball at this point. He gave me a medication, and I took it for three months.
The medication didn’t slow me down cognitively. I wasn’t high or clouded. The weight I felt lessened. It was there but less. I was able to focus on my schooling, develop new friendships, take on big tasks, and I found myself working in an industry I wanted.
When life was on the rise for me, I decided to stop taking my medication to see if I could handle being off of it. Fast forward two years, and I haven’t been on any medication or therapy, but know they are options I can choose at any point. The medication has not cured me by any means, but it did pull me through the darkest point in my life and let me come back to a safe level that I can cope with. It is an everyday battle, but it’s something I can handle.
Freshman year can be stressful, with or without any mental illness. Just know you’re not alone.
Those suffering from depression should not feel ashamed. There are plenty of resourses like therapy and medication you can use to help combat your depression. If you are suffering from depression or any other mental illness, don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor.