Death. That’s all I could think about. Every day seemed like complete hell. I felt as if my soul had been ripped out of my body and in it’s place was merely a shade of nothingness. My mind began lying to me, gently whispering that the people in my life – my friends, my family, everyone – wanted me gone. There were nights where I would sit on my window ledge and think that the pain from the fall would be quick and that I would finally have peace. I saw myself as an artifice of perfect loneliness, too clever to let another soul know that I wanted it all to end. I drowned myself in the sea of lies I forced my friends and family to swim in, and I was quickly sputtering out of control.
As somebody who has been through (and survived) a battle with depression, I was surprised to find how many people struggle with depression on a day-to-day basis. It’s not the sort of conversation you have with a random person on the street, and it’s a label you never want placed on you. As society has evolved to become more accepting of individuality and the various different lifestyles people have, it seems that even now depression and other mental ailments have been left behind. The moment that label is on you is the moment you will struggle to find a career, find someone to love, or be anything other than that label. It shouldn’t be that way but when you’re depressed, well, you spend every waking moment holding it together long enough to trick everyone else into not knowing. It rapidly devolves into a cycle of lies, regret, and more lies.
It just happened to me. Not overnight, but the one thing that troubles me about my depression is that I can’t pinpoint some major event to tie it to. Perhaps life got too boring for me. Maybe I wasn’t motivated enough and I slowly fell into it. Maybe I hated myself because I was completely out of shape. I simply do not know the exact reason. I had, by my own measure, no right to not be happy. I had friends that cared about me, a family that was helpful and loving, a decent job for a college student, and a lot of opportunities in front of me. Yet I still was depressed, and to this day I don’t know why. I imagine it was some sort of chemical or nutritional imbalance, but that in it of itself is what makes depression scary: it can happen to anyone.
I’m the first person to say that if it’s bad, get help. Yes, that includes the much-feared counselors, psychiatrists, and psychologists across the country. If you sense yourself spiraling into depression, don’t wait until you fall so far into the darkness that you don’t even care anymore. And yes, to address the elephant in the room, I went that far. Though few know, I attempted suicide twice. I thought I would be freeing myself from the emptiness that I felt from life. I thought that I would finally have peace. I failed the first time with little injury, and lost my nerve the second time because a friend happened to call me to see how I had been only moments before I was ready. I of course lied to her and told her everything was great, but the small act of compassion she showed me that night made me feel enough guilt for what I was about to do to turn my car around and go home. Even considering that, the cycle of depression continued for the following weeks.
I don’t want to make this an issue about healthcare, but let me make it clear when I say that even if I wanted psychiatric help (which I convinced myself that I didn’t), I simply could not afford it even if I had been forced. I made only enough money to survive. I am of the mindset that many other victims of depression that fall through the cracks find themselves in the same boat. I knew that if something did not change, I would die.
Driving home from class one day I spotted a free mental health clinic. I parked out front on a fluke and for what seemed like weeks I sat there, lost in thought. I didn’t want labeled. I didn’t want to be medicated. I just wanted to figure out where I was going wrong and why I felt the way I did. I think it hit me that the issue for me, at it’s core, was whether I cared more about my life or my pride. I sullenly walked through the doors. A week later I had my first session, and a multivitamin was recommended to me that I began taking. I immediately noted a difference in how I felt. Not amazing, but for the first time, better.
Other things happened in the meantime. My girlfriend broke up with me and a close friend was paralyzed in a car accident. Life was starting to seem aimless once more. Enough was enough, and being out of shape I started exercising and dieting as well. As I lost weight, I slowly wormed my way out of the hole I was in. I began writing as an outlet, changed my major to something that I actually wanted to do, and began to see a new beginning in front of me. That fresh start alone saved my life, I’m quite certain.
Looking back, it’s hard to believe where I was at only a few years ago. Since then, much has changed for the better. Make no mistake, not everything is peachy-keen. I have off days where I feel a bit worse than usual. Still, if you asked me, I can honestly say I feel very blessed to be alive. There was hope for me, but I had to find it. I will always say that we need to be proactive with our own lives and take control. Sometimes yes, that involves help from others. Do what you need to make it through today. All of us have to swallow our pride now and then. Your life is worth more.