Depression isn’t easy.
Some might wonder why I would write on such a topic.
I was always pretty happy go lucky in high school though I carried all those typical high school insecurities.
I had my first boyfriend my senior year of high school and although we both moved to the same city for college, we broke up a few months into my freshman year.
Part of it came because I in my young stupidity wanted another guy.
He and I were friends, dated for a short time and broke up when he gave me the line, “you’re more like a sister than a girlfriend to me.”
I let those words eat me up as I dealt with the years of insecurities I had with regards to guys and relationships.
I knew there was something wrong with me when I spent most of my spring break sleeping and my dad commented to my mom about it as they stood outside my bedroom door. My mom said I was just tired from school and needed rest.
The next week I went back to campus and I remember a girl in my sorority speaking during the weekly chapter meeting about her own depression. Now of course, I started looking at myself because whenever someone starts talking medical diagnoses we all analyze ourselves.
The reality set in a day or two later when that guy and I were walking back to his dorm. At the time, we were still friends (sort of) and we had been somewhere together.
After he walked into his dorm, I remember sitting down on a bench and crying, sobbing, bawling like a baby for no apparent reason. When I stopped crying, I knew something needed to be done.
I called the counseling office on campus and made an appointment for the next day.
After two sessions, the counselor had diagnosed me with depression and sent me to student health — or student death as we called it — for an antidepressant prescription.
I remember telling my parents over the phone of the diagnosis only to hear them question it and say I wasn’t getting enough sleep. In fact, I still have the article my dad sent me in an envelope with no explanation, just highlights over passages saying college students who aren’t getting proper sleep are often misdiagnosed with depression.
It was at that point I decided conversations with them about the topic weren’t advisable. It wasn’t easy especially back then on my darkest days but I knew if I wanted to live a good life in spite of my diagnosis, that is what I had to do.
I figured at the time that part of it could have been that my parents were holding on to that old world mentality of just be happy and you’ll get over it. Yet I knew that my diagnosis wasn’t simply about being happy. It was a medical diagnosis with regard to the function of my brain, not just some “silly emotional state.”
I met with the counselor weekly for the rest of my freshman semester and even though the summer after I decided to live with my aunt and uncle in the city.
I will admit that my struggle and I will call it a struggle with depression over the next few years was rough. Eventually my friendship with that guy completely fell apart, my self-image in many aspects was destroyed and my judgment wasn’t great either.
One turning point for me was Christmas break my sophomore year when my mom and I went to meet with her brother, who she hasn’t spoken with in some time.
It was then that I learned mental illness was actually hereditary in my family. My mom just never talked about it. My grandmother had seasonal depression. My aunt had obsessive-compulsive disorder and my uncle was bipolar.
Up to that point, I felt completely alone, like I was the one weirdo with problems. That conversation and realization was freeing to me.
I did turn things around eventually and graduated from college with a job and a fiancé.
The important thing to note is my depression never magically went away. I think I knew from early on that this was something I would carry with me for the rest of my life and honestly I’m okay with that.
I have had many dark days and many bright and sunshiney ones too. I just know that sometimes I need to have that reality check with myself to make sure I’m still hanging in there.
In the last 16 years, I’ve tried going to the counselor two different times. The first lady tried to get me to fill out some worksheets she got from Dr. Phil’s website. I didn’t do them and didn’t go back. Figured I could watch Dr. Phil for free at home.
The second counselor, which I sort of liked, I saw only once and then my grandfather died and while most would say that would be a great time to go back to a counselor, I never returned.
I think my closest friends would agree that while I’m great at telling stories and even sharing details of my life, I’m not great with sharing my emotions. I think I was very lucky with my first counselor Charlene Bruckman — who happened to be married to a Bruckman related to the Bruckman Rubber people in Hastings.
Charlene listened. Charlene asked questions but I felt Charlene never judged. Even when I made really stupid mistakes, did really stupid things and was just acting foolish, Charlene was there. And I knew anything I said to her would stay in that room and never get back to my friends or family.
While I’m not great about talking about my deep dark emotions, I think counseling can be pretty amazing. I’ve also discovered there are many other ways to work through your feelings and emotions as well.
Over the years, I have picked up hobbies like making jewelry and scrapbooking to give me some relaxation, read hundreds of books and spent time with my husband. I’ve changed my diet, even just a little bit, and I’ve discovered the power of essential oils.
Through all of these tools, I have worked every day to keep going. There are still dark days and rough days, especially in our quarantined, self-isolating new world, but I still look for the sun and it’s there even if peeking from behind the clouds.