Dealing with depression
Since the beginning of high school, I’ve had to carry the weight of depression for a few months at a time. It’s hard and it doesn’t get easier the longer you have it. If anything, it gets harder because you begin to lose hope you’ll ever get better.
In 10th grade, I was diagnosed with dysthymia, a mental disorder that basically means I’m always mildly depressed. It’s as if my default mood is melancholy. Whenever I get depressed, my depression stacks with the dysthymia to become “double depression.”
As anyone who has been depressed or has been close with a depressed friend knows, depression is an everyday struggle. It isn’t just feeling sad. It’s feeling like all of your energy has been sapped out of you, feeling like you’re worthless, that you’re letting everyone around you down. It’s struggling to remember what it was like to ever be happy. It’s barely being able to do the minimum.
Freshman year, I failed two classes simply because I couldn’t find it in me to get out of bed and go to them. I’d lie in bed cursing myself for not going, only finding the will to start the day around noon. It wasn’t that I hated the classes or the people in them; I just couldn’t push myself to get ready for the day.
My friends were inconsistent in supporting me. Some would be there, then stop being there, making me feel like they got sick of me. Some would be there only for having fun but not for serious issues, making me feel like I shouldn’t talk about my depression. Some were there for me no matter what, making me feel like I was worth something.
The worst and best thing about depression is you can only understand it once you’ve had it. People who haven’t had it won’t understand why you’re like this and they’ll just dismiss it as you being weak or pathetic. People who have had it will immediately sympathize with you and be there for you throughout the whole ordeal. After a while, you find what naturally happens – most of your friends are those who have been depressed.
Depression in our modern society is seen as something that shouldn’t be talked about. It’s a bit of a taboo. This is the opposite of how it should be. When you can’t talk about your depression, it eats away at you and gets worse. If a friend is depressed and you ‘just don’t want to deal with all that,’ then you’re selfish. Depression is a horrible disease. The very least you could do is listen. They aren’t looking to you to solve everything. They’re just looking to you to listen.
Depression while living in the dorms is its own challenge. You don’t want to bother your roommates with it, but you also can’t stand having to lie about how you feel most of the time. On those days when I couldn’t get out of bed, I had roommates come back to the room and make some rude comment about how I was lazy. There’s nothing worse for a depressed person than being called how they feel. That just makes it feel like every negative thing you’ve ever thought about yourself is right.
There are many self-esteem problems associated with depression. I still get massively uncomfortable taking my shirt off in my own room. If someone speaks over me, I generally find it hard to keep talking at all. I never confront anyone when they’re bothering me and I try to keep my problems to myself. It’s torture having to always listen to people talk about their problems when I can’t talk about my own because I’m afraid someone will make a joke about me or not care at all.
I guess the plus side to depression is it makes you a lot more sensitive to other people’s emotions. I’m a better friend because of it.
Working for The Spectrum has really helped me deal with depression. It forced me to keep going out every day and do something. It gave me a sense of worth because there were people counting on me to get my work done. It was an invaluable aid.
The key to beating depression is finding something that makes you so passionate that it outweighs the depression. You will still have bad days, you will still feel the depression there but finding something that makes you feel more alive will at least keep you going.
Depression is terrible. Treat those who have it with the respect they deserve and need. For those who are depressed, treat yourself with the respect you deserve and need.
Daniel McKeon is a features editor and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org