- Posted September 22, 2012 by
Staten Island, New York
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Are you living with depression?
Young Adult Depression
For some depression sufferers, it can be helpful to visualize the disorder in physical form: a black dog, a lone ship on the horizon, a rolling storm cloud. This visualization serves to characterize the disease and possibly alert sufferers to approaching episodes of mood swings.
Personally, I will always picture depression as a flock of black birds. This characterization comes directly from an incident that took place when I was thirteen or fourteen years old, shooting hoops in my driveway. I distinctly remember watching some black birds fly over head in the cloudy sky and just being crushed by this absolute sense of despair, worthlessness and doubt. I remember walking indoors and leaving my basketball outside, not caring if it got lost or stolen. I remember crying alone, convinced that no one in my immediate world could understand what I was going through.
The black birds flew visited again when I first went off to college. By sophomore year, they were permanently nested in my dorm room. This was not for lack of socialization; I made lasting friendships in college with people I still speak to today. I also benefitted greatly from numerous caring and kind professors. However, despite this strong support network, I slipped into a terrible span of depression bridging nearly my entire undergraduate career. Not a single day passed where I did not feel incapable, unworthy, and unattractive. I can honestly say that, during this dark period, I did not like or love myself.
As much as the pain of depression affected my daily college life, the pain of not knowing what was wrong with me stung almost as bad. I felt extremely guilty for being depressed, simply because I didn’t think there was any “good reason” to feel as bad as I did. Fellow depression sufferers will certainly recognize such self-defeating thought patterns.
Looking back now as an adult in my mid-twenties, I wish that literature and information on mental illness had been much more prevalent on campus. Admittedly, there may have been resources available which I did not notice then, simply because I was too distracted by my negative feelings. When you’re depressed, you tend not to notice a whole lot.
A few years after graduation, I still struggle greatly with my mental health. There are many days when the black birds dominate the skies of my mind. A few things are different now, though.
Firstly, I have learned so much more about MDD, SAD and BPD through intelligent information outlets and online communities. I have also learned that there is no shame or defeat in seeing a certified mental health counselor, psychiatrist or psychologist. I have seen all three, and will continue to do so as my life moves forward. This is a particularly sensitive issue for men struggling with depression, the idea that seeking help is unmanly. These thoughts could not be further from the truth.
Medication is always a personal choice. For me, I have found it helpful, although I am happy to say that I am currently not taking anything. Finally, I would strongly recommend a creative outlet for anyone suffering from mental illness. Art classes, music lessons or writing groups can be therapeutic for any person, regardless of beginning skill level.
So please, when heavy clouds begin to block out the sun or when you notice the lone ship on the horizon, do not give up hope. You are not alone. You are not alone. You are not alone.