Today I’d like to talk about a very personal issue, for myself and others. I’ll start the conversation with a story.
In my first year of college, as is the case for many I’m sure, a lot changed and a lot happened. Some of which was expected, much of which was not.
In that time I made friends. More importantly, I lost friends. Loneliness coupled with boredom attached to self loathing led to what I now refer to as a doom spiral. In fact, it was the biggest spiral of my lifetime.
Calling it a doom spiral makes it seem a bit more comical and a little less devastating, but in reality it was the largest bout of depression I had ever and have ever had. My Facebook was filled with self-deprecation and anguish, which in reality were the biggest cries for help I could manage. My roommate had moved out of our dormroom and all the friends we had shared went with her. I was two hours and a hundred miles away from my family and all my friends from high school and I was (or so I felt) utterly and blatantly alone.
My parents had a vague idea of how unhappy I was. I went home as often as possible and would offhandedly mention my lack of friends and how much I missed home while feigning that I still had any semblance of happiness left in my body. They had only an idea the extent of the storm raging inside me.
Oppositely, my best friend of six years quietly despaired for me, seeing my Facebook and being able to interpret the meaning, sending caring messages which fell to deaf ears. She later told me just how scared she had been for me. Scared and useless at not being able to do anything for me.
Finally, I began to admit the problem to myself and that I needed help. The first step I took was talking to my RA. After a couple visits where I hinted at my issue, she suggested I make an appointment with one of our school counselors and even offered to walk over with me and help me set up the appointment. I declined, but after another couple weeks of listlessness, I finally scheduled a meeting.
The remainder of the semester was a bit of a blur. Things still weren’t perfect, but they were improving. I started feeling better, started making friends, and slowly stopped feeling like I was falling apart. I stopped spending so many weekends at my parents and started attending events. Instead of thinking I wouldn’t come back after the summer, I made plans and landed a job as an RA for the following year.
My hope had returned. My despair thrown to the wayside. Life continued as it always does.
Now, I think it’s important to note that I don’t mean this to be entirely self-serving. I am not looking for pity or sympathy. I simply wish to raise a little awareness. Since that time in my life, I have never reached that level of depression, though I do occasionally fall back into doom spirals.
What I think is important is that we as people, as friends, as family members, learn to be more aware of these situations. Whenever I see something that reminds me of that time in my life appear on Facebook, I leave a kind word, or send a message to check on the person. If someone does a need to talk, I listen. I look for signs, because I would wish on no one what my life was like back then.
If you yourself suffer from depression, I enthusiastically recommend that you reach out to someone. A friend. A forum. Your doctor. Anyone. Because holding it in doesn’t make you feel better and doing nothing will only allow it to get worse. Know that you are not alone, no matter how much you may feel so. Know that there is help and even if you can’t see it now, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
All my love,