October 1, 2016

Battling Depression: from the mental black box to the big field of flowers

Imagine yourself in a black box in the middle of a flower field. You see the colors, you see the sun and you see life. However, you lack the energy to open the lid and get yourself out. After being trapped for a few days, you start lacking the desire to open your eyes and see the light. It becomes too bright for your darkened spirit.

I do not have a first memory of depression, but repetitive sleepless nights became the ritual when the sun went down. It messes up my sense of identity and drags my love of life down. It numbs my desire to be the person I was born to be.

Every time I tell my family I am drowned in depression, they tell me it is all in my head. This was not the reaction I needed when I spent days and nights fighting a dark monster that suffocated life out of me.  Time after time, I simply stopped sharing my struggles with people and kept everything in.

I admit – I used to listen to my family and deny all the weight I felt on my shoulders. They would tell me to look at all the things I have and be thankful, hoping these thoughts would fix the dark ones I had.

There is no fixing them. It is not about what I have or what I do. Depression is not a broken vase that you simply glue the pieces together and viola; a fixed one. Depression is not about possessions, talents or achievements.

GRAPHIC BY Sarah Blankenship

GRAPHIC BY Sarah Blankenship

Depression is a thing. It does exist. It is not just in our heads.

Depression is restless emotions and thoughts eating you up from the inside. It is feeling the burden of the world on your chest. It is an inescapable desire to shut yourself down from the world. You feel this unexplainable sadness, and the proud person you are in public becomes a small living being with low self-esteem.

Being a college student, having a job and a load of responsibilities while dealing with depression can become a vicious cycle of struggle. There is a part of me which wants to be great at what I do,  but when depression hits, I lose interest in getting there and I run away from making the effort.

When an unproductive day passes because of the lack of energy, the part of me that wants to be great becomes worried and I start beating myself up for being stuck in one place instead of moving forward as life goes on. Afterward, the worry increases, the cycle grows and the struggle keeps getting darker.                   

Fighting a daily battle, I have to make peace with myself at some point to stay sane. I cannot watch life move on and time pass while I am sitting behind, hopeless and helpless. I cannot lose interest in the things I love the most because of the sadness I feel. I have to accept it as part of who I am and I cannot beat myself up for it.

I cannot treat the voices in my head like enemies. I need to let them be and give them their time until they are ready to step aside. When the weight is lifted, I can regain the energy and get out of my box to feel the breeze of life and see the sun reflecting on the blooming flowers.

According to the American Psychological Association, 36.4 percent of college students suffer from depression. There are other people in boxes in the field across the horizon with you. You are not alone.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

GRAPHIC BY Sarah Blankenship

GRAPHIC BY Sarah Blankenship

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  • Robert Saunders

    I have actually a buddy who may have seasonal affective depression. She started working out more regularly which boosts seratonin levels and she also used light therapy for her depression/anxiety.

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    I would like to look extra posts like this .