I didn’t want to believe I was depressed. I didn’t want to be one of those people making excuses. I didn’t want to be one of those people that couldn’t handle reality. But there I was, in the spring of my junior year of college, drowning in the mess of my own mind.
I’ve always been smart, but I’ve never really been a model student – not since it counted anyway. But this wasn’t my usual slacking and procrastination. This wasn’t my usual disorganization. I felt paralyzed. I would stay in bed for days but wouldn’t sleep. I would eat everything one day and nothing the next. I kept telling myself that I just had to snap out of it, but no matter what I did I felt completely hollow.
I’m no expert, but I’m willing to bet that college is one of the worst times to be depressed. Not only are you laying the foundation for the rest of your life, not only are you juggling a billion different responsibilities, not only are you growing and changing; ending and beginning new relationships, but you’re faced with an overwhelming pressure to enjoy yourself. It’s not like anyone is holding a gun to your head and forcing you into the bar, but you know you’re at the peak of your youth. The clock is ticking, and before you know it your free trial (and by free we mean approximately $50,000/year) of semi-adulthood will be over. In the blink of an eye you’ll be dragged kicking and screaming out of your glory days by the real world. Every app you open is filled with your friends and acquaintances seemingly having the times of their lives. And you’d rather pretend to be as happy as them than admit to yourself how lost you are.
I’m not going to lie; some – actually most – of the best days of my life happened under an influence or two. But after a certain point, going out wasn’t about blowing off steam or unwinding after a long week. Drinking became a weekend getaway from my depression, and the deeper down the hole I got, the more necessary it seemed. I wasn’t trying to have a good time so much as I was trying to distance myself from the negativity and meaninglessness that constantly consumed me.
I thought in great detail about ending my life this summer. I wrote out a list of everyone I was close to, and started writing goodbye letters. As the list got longer and longer, I realized how many people would be impacted if I chose to kill myself. As I began to put my notebook away, a folded piece of paper with my name on it written in large lettering fell out. Nothing was inside when I opened it. And no matter how much of a nut job it makes me sound like, that was all the evidence I needed that God still had a plan for me.
I’m a very private person, and it’s taking a lot out of me to speak about this publicly. Because of my private nature, I kept everything I was going through to myself, and I learned firsthand that the longer you bottle up depression, the more time you give it to rot and fester. You don’t have to talk to your friends about it, You don’t even have to stop partying, But you do need to get help. I hate asking for help as much as the next person, but the longer you try to fight this battle alone, the weaker you become in the process.
Being depressed doesn’t mean you’re incompetent. It doesn’t mean you’re a loser, and it doesn’t mean you’re selfish. But it does mean that there is something inside of you that needs to be addressed for your sake and for the sake of those you love.
As hopeless as you feel in this moment, you have a purpose, and you have a duty to yourself to fulfill that purpose. You are more loved than you will ever know and you are not alone. Sadness is nothing to be glorified or romanticized, but almost no one is as happy as they look on Instagram.