How I Fought Depression
How to Fight Depression: A First-Hand Account
I stepped onto the podium and lowered my head as a man slipped a bronze medal around my neck. My five years of training had landed me at bronze at the USA Taekwondo Nationals.
My coach was intense, but so was I.
My mornings began with an hour long stretch and yoga at five A.M. before driving forty minutes to school. At lunchtime, I went onto the school track for a killer three mile run. It was killer, not in a good way, because running, to me, makes no sense. It seemed so pointless, with no technique to improve at and nothing to think about. I believed that only two types of people run: those who were extremely passionate about something, and those who were masochistic. I’m still not clear on which one I was.
After school, I drove forty minutes to my Taekwondo school and began my training. An hour of conditioning, an hour of core exercises, a thirty minute break, followed by technique training. Like I said, it was intense, but so was I.
I thrived. I loved the pain and the gain, and I loved my coach and teammates. I guess I was both passionate and masochistic.
High school graduation, where I was awarded with the music department’s award of “Best Musician” and featured in the yearbook. After ten years of working on my silvery flute tone, I premiered “Miniatures: Overture” by Bill Robinson in my quaint woodwind quintet, being the only non-professional and teenage group to perform in the concert. My group was featured on the front page of our city newspapers, five smiling high school students, me holding hands with my four best friends and musical soul mates. My musical achievements were highlighted for my city to see.
I didn’t play so that I could prove to my townspeople that I was the best and most talented, because I am most definitely not. I didn’t play so my friends would gawk at my skill. I played so that I could hear the whispering melodies in my ears and sway to the tunes. I got lost in my sound and forgot everything else.
Let’s pause. There is more than sufficient evidence pointing to a happy, promising, fulfilled teenager. Remember that.
Second semester of college began, and I gave up taekwondo and flute to focus on school. COVID-19 hit, but I had different worries. I hadn’t slept in two days, and my hands shook constantly so that it was nearly impossible to type and write. I fell or became exhausted nearly every ten steps, and walking to class became a nearly impossible feat. I was tired all the time, sometimes napping for eight hours at a time, eating, and then sleeping for the night, because sleeping felt like a release. It was a way to fast forward to the next day, when hopefully things would be better. Being awake was too much work.
I had extreme eye spasms where my eyes tried to roll to the back of my head. I spent many nights at the emergency room, but the doctors were at a loss. They shot me up with some morphine and diazepam and sent me home. I was in immense fear that I would have an episode and fall down the stairs, and I was terrifies of leaving my dorm room.
How did this happen?
I was more than healthy. I exercised frequently, ate well, participated in social activities, and did my schoolwork. I felt fulfilled, but something was wrong.
I had been ignoring my inner voice. I had ignored the thoughts that drifted sleepily across my mind at night, telling me that I wasn’t enough.
“It would be better if it ended.”
“There’s no point.”
“I want to feel something.”
“Get a knife. Get in your car. Get in the bathtub. Get some pills.”
I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and General Anxiety. Little did I know, but these issues plagued my mother as well, and they appeared partially genetic. I began therapy and medication.
When I quit taekwondo and flute, I had lost my goals and passions. I felt as though I had nothing to do, and I was simply wasting my time and my parent’s hard earned money. My status as a former satellite baby, a common tradition in Chinese culture for parents to send children away to distant family members for the first few years, had affected my relationships with my family and friends. I had attachment and trust issues, and I had found it difficult to form meaningful relationships with my college peers, because I no longer had my loved communities of music and taekwondo.
Along with my personal dilemmas, Chinese culture was a major factor in my depression and anxiety. My parents, both Chinese immigrants, did little to believe that mental illness is real, even though my mother suffers from depression as well. She laughed with her friends when her doctors gave her antidepressants, saying that they just want an excuse to sell people more drugs. She argued with me, telling me not to take my medications, because they alter my personality.
After seeing my condition worsen over the next two months, my mother caved. We had seen all the neurologists and nobody had any idea. Finally, she agreed that my medications and therapy would be best.
Within two months, I was up and off my butt. I started going on rubens and picking up my flute. Spent less and less time in bed and opted for baking cookies and long walks. My spark for life returned.
Through my struggles, I decided to study psychology. It became my new passion. I read books and took classes and consulted my therapist. I got lost in finding new psychology tricks to try on my new community of friends.
Depression is real, and it can happen to the healthiest of us. It sneaks up on you, and there’s little way to heal except to accept it and face it head on. There’s no napping through it, as I tried. There’s no denying it. You have to listen to yourself. Don’t ignore the fleeting thoughts that are so deep in your mind they're nearly invisible. They’re there for a reason, and they won’t disappear until you make them go away.
Here’s how to fight depression:
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2020 Amy Xu