- Posted May 3, 2014 by
Mount Pleasant, Michigan
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Going public with mental illness
Battling Depression Does Not Make You Weak
- Jareen, CNN iReport producer
But, if they only knew that for a majority of the last ten years, I felt emptiness, sadness, and even hopelessness.
You’re looking at the face of depression. If you look at my life on the surface, you will see someone who has achieved at the highest of highs. I have a Bachelors degree from Indiana University. I played semi pro football, and attend graduate school.
For years, I was able to hide my depression by wearing masks and living in self-denial, saying that I was just having a “bad day.” I would pretend that it would just work itself out and everything would be fine. But, as the years wore on, the lows got even lower. I distinctly remember two days that looking back, were major warning signs that I ignored.
November 26, 2007 is a day that I will never forget. I remember the feeling, like my whole world was caving in all around me. Depression was always under the surface, but as usual, I would just ignore it. Then, the trigger point happened. I was dating a young woman named Natalie. I spent Thanksgiving weekend with her after having an argument with my parents. We were having a great time, and drinking (heavily). Then the next morning, she abruptly kicked me out of her life without warning. I was distraught and devastated. I still have no idea how I managed to get myself back home, let alone go to work on Sunday. That evening, I just decided enough is enough. I wrote a note, said some goodbyes, and I decided that I was ready to leave this world. I thought I would just overdose on medication, fall asleep, and never wake up again. About 12 hours later, I woke up. I will spare you some of the other details, but at the end of the day, I survived a suicide attempt.
For a few years, I viewed this survival as a sign that I was meant to do more in this world. I picked up the pieces, enrolled in college, and I thrived. Depression was always under the surface though, but I managed to fake a smile on the bad days, and wear masks. I graduated from my university in 2012 with a degree in Communication Arts, an Outstanding Student award, and many other accolades.
We try to push aside depression and mental health issues because it’s “somebody else’s problem.” Well, as I continued to fall into the depths, it became my problem. May 24, 2013. I remember just feeling like I needed to take a break from things. I just found out that my plans for graduate school crumbled away like a decaying building. I had been accepted to Kent State, but they did not give me enough funding for me to attend. I tried to wear masks, but it became increasingly difficult that day. I remember distinctly trying to say something, but all that came out was tears and pain. For hours, I was sunk in a corner, breaking down mentally and emotionally. I would say that I wanted to disappear, escape and leave the world. I didn’t attempt to take my own life that night, but I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t thinking about it, and I definitely would be lying to you if I said I haven’t thought about it since.
I did ultimately find a new graduate school in Central Michigan University to study Sport Administration. I thought getting out of my comfort zone and moving to a new place would help shake me out of my personal hell, and help me beat this on my own. But, I learned real depression is when you’re surrounded by happiness and only feel pain. It’s a storm in your mind that is unrelenting.
I realized almost immediately that my depression wasn’t getting better, it was only getting worse. It was harder to hide the pain. We talk about disappointment in life. We didn’t get the job. So-and-so broke up with me. Those are just disappointments. I was actually doing really well in my new surroundings. I had made many new friends, and finally had the opportunities I have been waiting for. But, the pain just grew. I started to feel like I was trapped in quicksand. Depression was winning again.
My story could have ended on Super Bowl Sunday when I was at my lowest. But, I finally faced my fears. I went to the counselling center on my campus. I went to the campus health clinic, where I met a compassionate and caring physician, who put my mind at ease about medication; and would work with me to find the right medication and dosage for me. I am fighting every single day, but I am winning the fight now. I have a great team of people around me, and am determined to continue to get better. I still have low days, but they are becoming less frequent.
If you are suffering from depression or any mental health issue, please get help. Talk to a friend or a family member that you trust. Whatever you do, please do not fight this alone. For 10 years, I fought what was an uphill battle that I was losing. I made the choice, and I’m proud to say that each day I feel myself becoming stronger in my fight.
We need to remove the stigma that society places with depression. You would never say to somebody that “It’s just a broken leg. Get over it!”
Know that if you are suffering, you are not weak. You are strong for hanging on for so long.
I am just one of the many faces of depression in the world. And I will never give up my fight.