Facing depression in college

By Gena Anderson | ganderson@flagler.edu

Depression. The word itself has this impenetrable weight to it. Depression is something that happens to you, but we don’t look at it that way do we?

Depressed. We see it as an adjective. Mary Lou doesn’t “have depression;” she “is depressed.” By seeing it that way we remove the right of the afflicted to be afflicted, at least— I always did.

I viewed depression as weakness. But that was before I was diagnosed with it.

We all think we know what depression is, but, at least for me, it doesn’t feel like what I thought it was.

Some days I can’t get out of bed. I won’t even be tired. I’ll just refuse to move until I fall back asleep and repeat the process until the late afternoon sun reminds me that the day is gone.

I can’t eat. Or rather, I can’t eat normally. Some days I can’t get enough food, but most of the time I eat barely anything at all and the sound of most things makes me queasy.

I get frustrated over things that don’t even matter, and blow the things that do matter into astronomical portions far too large for any one person to remedy.

I become consumed by feelings I didn’t even know I had in less than two seconds and would cry for days. I couldn’t make up my mind; I couldn’t decide whether I was sad or insane. I spent most of my time feeling like a burden and a failure.

It’s all so stupid. In the grand scheme of the cosmos, I am completely useless. This life, this world, they’re all meaningless. What’s the point of going through all of this for nothing?

That’s the scariest part. When you doubt whether or not life is worth living, and nothing anyone says can really change that thought. It’s the question whose answer defines everything.

I promise you the answer is yes. Life is worth living. I also promise that you have to find your own reasons as to why. That part might take a little longer than you like, it has been for me.

If it helps at all— I reminded myself over and over again that my Mom couldn’t afford to pay back my student loans, and that a particular person I will not name would never really get over it. As silly as it sounds, those two people gave me every bit of strength I have today and I want nothing more than to make them smile.

One night over summer break, all of my friends went to a party and I drove myself to the Flagler Hospital with the intention of checking myself into the psych ward— and turned around— twice.

It’s okay to be lost sometimes. You just have to make sure you are trying to figure out the path back to found. Two weeks ago, I didn’t know if I would still be alive today. But I am because I decided that I am going to be stronger than this. I still don’t entirely know how, but I will.

The world really is a big scary place, and it’s only getting scarier. College students are in the second largest demographic of people suffering from depression. Suicide is our second leading cause of death, according to American College Health Association.

It doesn’t have to be that way. No, let me rephrase that. It shouldn’t be that way.

If you are experiencing depression— don’t be ashamed to talk about it. I made that mistake for far too long. Seek help. Everyone does it differently, so go wherever you feel comfortable.

I chose counseling because I learn a lot from spewing my feelings out in a verbal stream of consciousness. Some people find it more helpful, or more convenient, to join a support group, on or offline. There are countless hotlines, websites, support groups, and other options.

If you have insurance, you can ask your doctor to refer you to a therapist.

If you aren’t insured, it’s okay. At Flagler College we have counseling services where students can schedule appointments to speak privately with therapists. All services are strictly confidential and free of charge to currently enrolled students.

For St. John’s County residents, affordable mental health services are offered by Putnam-St. Johns Behavioral Healthcare. They offer services at a discounted rate. The rate is determined by a sliding scale that is based off of your income.

How you handle this entirely up to you. It’s your life and your decisions and I won’t tell you how to make them. However, I will tell you that there is nothing wrong with you. The first step is the hardest, but it is the most important.

If you’re too scared to take it on your own, ask a friend to help you. I certainly had to. If you need a friend— my email is at the top of the page.

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