By Amy Q
If you know someone who’s depressed, please resolve never to ask them why. Depression isn’t a straightforward response to a bad situation; depression just is, like the weather. Try to understand the blackness, lethargy, hopelessness, and loneliness they’re going through. Be there for them when they come through the other side. It’s hard to be a friend to someone who’s depressed, but it is one of the kindest, noblest, and best things you will ever do. — Stephen Fry
I was a fairly average teenage girl who went about her business, dragged down by an illness.
As defined by SANE.org, clinical depression is an illness, a medical condition. It significantly affects the way someone feels, causing a persistent lowering of mood. Depression is often accompanied by a range of physical and psychological symptoms that interfere with the way a person is able to function in their everyday life. Depression is quite a common issue today, contrary to what many may think.
Signs include lowered self esteem, change in sleep (insomnia, broken sleep), change in appetite and/or weight, lessened ability to control emotions, varying emotions, reduced capacity to enjoy activities and hobbies, reduced pain tolerance, poor concentration and memory, and lowered energy levels.
We’ve all said we’ve felt ‘depressed’ about things. And sometimes we feel a little down for no reason. However, depression is not the same as being sad. It is serious and it becomes a recognizable illness when someone’s state of mind is severe, lasts for more than 2 weeks, and interferes with someone’s performance at home, school or work.
As scary as the above sounds, it’s real. Imagine having to deal with those feelings and live with them each day, having no control whatsoever — day after day, week after week, month after month, and even sometimes year after year.
Depression is one of the most painful things you could ever deal with in your life. It changes everything about you — the way you act, the way you live. You constantly fake smiles; lie and say everything is OK. You wake up each day feeling hatred – or nothing at all — towards the world, and sometimes even for your own life. You can even go to sleep at night and wish you didn’t have to wake up the next day.
In my life, I’ve always been a quiet, antisocial person. It may even contribute to why depression and anxiety have struck me a little bit harder in high school. During a time when I’m supposed to be interacting with my peers, I’m dealing with a serious issue like depression. How am I meant to socialize with a thick black cloud constantly over my head?
Though I did have a few friends, I also had a couple of foes — moderate depression, social anxiety, and possibly the beginnings of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). I felt others were judging me, each and every day, from the way I wore my hair to how many pimples I had. I was in no way a social butterfly, but I did my best to keep in contact with those around me. Not everyone was able to be there for me in the way I wanted them to. I didn’t want to scare anyone off with my problems, even if they are the answer to “what’s wrong?”
I also couldn’t talk to strangers very well. I still shudder at the thought of having to make a phone call. If it’s that confronting, I stay awake all night beforehand and worry about it.
Walking to classes at school sometimes seemed impossible. I maintained eye contact with the floor, rather than at eye level with others. Yet it was the times when I was alone when I felt depression beating on me the hardest.
Sometimes I lacked the strength to even say “hello.” Loneliness can be one of the most isolating feelings. It came with thoughts such as “I’m not pretty enough to be talked to,” “I’m too ugly for everyone else,” or “I’m not important enough to be spoken to here.” Going through high school with depression and a bit of anxiety has definitely been one of the toughest situations I have ever experienced.
But I did get help (and continue to get it), and I’m not afraid to admit that fact. Without that help, I’d be in a much worse place than I am now. If you’re able to, getting help is one of the bravest things you can do for yourself. In no way is it a sign of weakness. I believe it’s a sign of immense strength; taking that giant step to better yourself isn’t that easy, but to others, it shows that you’re mature enough and responsible enough to take that step and begin to better your life.
It’s been a few years, and here I am today, writing this piece. I’m not far off graduating high school, and, though my life journey hasn’t been the easiest so far, it’s helped me to define who I am and where I want to head in the future.
My hope is to let other young women like myself (or even grown women) know that they are not alone in their experience with such hardships. Through my journey I’ve met so many lovely people who have gone or were going through the same struggles as me, even if our only means of communication were email and Tumblr messaging. While those friendships were based on our mutual struggles, we at some stage learned more about each other and formed an unbreakable bond. As much as it sounds like a terrible cliché, talking really can help.
There is hope. Things may change. It is indeed possible to become positively smitten, even if it’s only with certain aspects of life.
I’m a fairly mellow person, I tend to keep to myself and am very much an introvert. I enjoy drinking tea, reading books, cooking, and watching tv shows (I have a list of about 30 or so favourites!). Writing has always been a passion of mine. I’m a self-confessed Monty Python and Stephen Fry fan – I think they’re all absolutely fabulous. As the well-known song by Men At Work Goes: I come from a land down under: It’s either cold enough to freeze your socks off, or hot enough to fry an egg on the footpath. I’m almost finished with high school (just under a year to go!!), and post-school I hope to keep up with my writing habits as well as becoming a nurse-midwife.