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- Psychology & Psychiatry
We begin our lives growing and blooming, rooted to the beliefs that we could be anything we wanted, do anything we wanted, and during all this we knew that we were loved unconditionally by those around us. For a good section of our lives we hold on to this, as if it were a buoy in a sea where waves of anxiety, stress, and everyday life threatened our being. We hold to this because it’s the only thing keeping our heads above the water. But some of us fall and our grip on the things we hold most dear is compromised. Maybe it is compromised by a lack of trust, faith, or hope, or maybe it is from the lack of motivation to keep fighting, an extinguished fire of the will to move forward. It is in this moment where everything we once knew comes crashing down around us, drowning us in the uncontainable feeling of defeat. I was at this point in my life only two times. It was this exact period of time where the only thing I saw was a reflection of the light that I knew I could never have. It was the untouchable glimmer that kissed the surface as I sank deeper and deeper into an idea that I was not who I thought I once was. My screams for help only escaped me as silent bubbles that fluttered above where they dissipated into nothingness.
In our society, we are told a silly little phrase, “don’t ask and don’t tell”. I, like most other people, almost consistently abided by this. I believed that my problems of depression and anxiety were all my own, something shameful to be swept under the rug. I couldn’t ask for help and couldn’t explain to others why I wasn’t like them. I couldn’t tell people why the little things that meant nothing to them happened to be a great deal of discomfort or stress for myself. I was a broken machine that couldn’t seem to handle its only task at hand: survive. In March of 2015 I ended up in a hospital for my depression and spent about two weeks bandaging what I could. This was my first moment of true suffocation. After analysis and prescriptions pointed in my direction, I was discharged. Upon arriving home and resuming classes, I was hit with the shock of life that the walls of my white room and sterile sheets had protected me from. My family spent their time reassuring me that they loved me, afraid that at any moment I could shatter. My classmates, however, questioned me as to where I was and what had happened, mostly due to the rumor that I was somewhere locked in juvy. Consequently this little tumor of fiction couldn’t help but grow and metastasize with every passing day I was gone. It seemed that I was helpless as all I could say was, “No, I wasn’t,” but that somehow didn’t satisfy the wondering minds of those around me. I could not show I was weak. I would not let people see what I held in my heart or mind. News of my absence and what might have happened slowly faded, and it seemed that everyone forgot. Then February of 2016 came around and the slide back into depression turned into a plummet.
After a long day, and choices that led to me to believe that I was worthless, I decided I would give up the fight. I couldn’t do it any longer; I couldn't hold on to the things that kept me afloat. I took a bottle of pills prescribed to help me, swallowed all of its contents, and let go of the buoy. Then I waited. I sense of relief fell over me because I knew I didn’t have to push any further. I was done.
The next thing I knew I was in a hospital fading in and out of consciousness, where faces blurred together as people passed me, my father being the only recognizable figure sitting in a chair nearby. The next day I was taken to the same hospital that had helped me battle my first bout of depression, but this time it was different. I hadn’t just thought of killing myself; I attempted it. My life had hit its second moment of complete defeat, a point I hope I won’t ever return to. I spent another two weeks sheltered from the outside world and returned back home to another place of frailty and caution. Following the incident, however, new measures had to be taken. The state appointed me and social worker and demanded I proceed with counseling. As time progressed the awkward and quiet conversations with my counselor turned into meaningful guidance. I began to feel like I could open up. I was repeatedly told that I was not alone and that others faced the same problems I did, but it wasn’t until then that I listened. I started to turn to a few friends and family and it was then that I started to truly heal. I didn’t just put a band-aid over it, forgot it happened, and called it good. I opened up and started to realize that my health and well-being wasn’t something to be ashamed of. Talking about the problems that pull us down help us. Everyone needs to vent or get something off their chest and I was no different. I am no different.
This preconceived idea we have that we must not show our weakness and talk about the things that may be uncomfortable is all wrong. We can’t pretend a problem we have isn’t there; we must deal with what comes our way. That is why as 2017 begins, I ask each of you to include something in your resolution. Do not ignore the signs of depression. Everyone needs someone to let them talk and teach them to open up. Be that person for someone around you. Notice the signs and lend a hand when you see someone drowning in an overwhelming cycle of despair. Be their buoy. As for those of you who battle with depression, anxiety, or anything of the like, know that you are not alone. You can’t ignore what is hurting you, and don’t be afraid to call for help before it’s too late. You are stronger than you ever thought possible.