I have depression, but it’s okay

Bre Mennenoh, A&E Editor

Depression is a scary thing. Especially when you don’t even know that you have it. This is all too familiar to me. I had been a somewhat dark child throughout my teenage years and everyone always wrote it off as ‘ugh hormones.’ 

The first, and probably most important, step to figuring out this wild ride for me was identifying my strengths and weaknesses and being aware of how these qualities changed in ways that they usually wouldn’t.  My confidence is easily my best quality. For as long as I could remember I was talking everyone’s ear off, no matter who was in the room. I loved to tell jokes and speaking my mind was never a problem. My one goal is to make everyone happy and the way that I do that is by making people laugh. Humor is my armor and the way that I cope through what I’m feeling half the time is by  joking around.

 On the other hand, this can also be my greatest weakness. When you’re constantly in this funny state of mind, it starts to feel like you’re stuck. Like, oh I’m the funny friend, stop feeling this way, or, stop crying and send your friend a meme. It sounds ridiculous, but that’s actually how my mind has and still does work.  

Once that started becoming continuously less easy for me to do, I figured that something was probably off. Because no matter how low I was, no matter how hopeless I felt, and no matter how lost I seemed, I always had one thing to come back to; making people laugh. 

Now, I get that I don’t get what you’re going through. I understand that there may be nothing I can do or say to make any part of this dark time go any faster or get any better. But it did. And if it can for me, it can for you too. Reaching out for help is the hardest hurdle you have to jump over. But once you face it head on, there’s nothing but up from there. 

So here’s how I did. Talking about how I feel to my family and friends  like I said before was never really an issue, yet on this particular day it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. No mother wants to hear that her daughter is suffering. No mother wants to find out that her daughter has felt utterly hopeless for the past 7 months. No mother wants to accept that the reason her daughter didn’t ask for help sooner was because she didn’t feel like she could talk to her about it. But there I was, telling her everything she didn’t want to hear; straight to her face. I told her everything. From the times I’ve sobbed in my room alone praying for death, to the failed goodbye notes I’ve written around the house that she never found. She asked why. Asked how I of all people could feel like this. Asked how I was even capable of feeling this way with the life that I have. All the opportunities given to me, all the places I’ve been, all the trials I’ve survived through. It’s just a bad day! Not a bad life. Yeah okay. 

Truth was,  it never had anything to do with my overly materialistic life. Not the places I’ve been nor the people in my life that could have changed the way I felt. Because I wasn’t unhappy with what was in my life, nor with how I was living it. This wasn’t some complaint that I was giving my mom about how things are going for me. This was a cry for help. And I knew that if I didn’t get help sooner or later, those countless prayers would be answered. Because ultimately, you know yourself the best. You know what your breaking point is better than anyone else. This was mine. I had to tell her. Whether she liked it or not. 

People always classify your feelings for you as if you don’t know them best. As if you don’t see. Don’t listen to them. Don’t listen to that little voice in your head that keeps saying, “I’m just overreacting.” Because you’re not. What you’re feeling is valid and just as real as the joy that you felt seeing that one person that made you smile less than 10 minutes ago. 

So, let’s step away from the stereotypical signs to look for that somehow is supposed to apply to everyone going through literally anything. I implore you to look for info away from the cringeworthy sources of strength videos. I’m no health expert by any means, but I’ve been able to find a way to reach out for help and effectively identify the triggers not only behaviorally but mentally as well. 

Depression isn’t just sadness. It’s not just a bad day. It’s not just a bad mood. It’s a chronic condition that deals with the amount of dopamine in your brain. For me, I was lacking the healthy amount that I needed. This was the main reason why I was feeling the way I was, along with stress from school and home life situations that also didn’t help. 

The classified definition of depression is the feeling of severe despondency and dejection or woe. Around 20% of teenagers worldwide suffer from depression but only 30% are getting treatment. Even less are reaching out. This is not only because of the stigma on talking about suicide this day in age, but also the teens inability to recognize what theyre feeling in a useful and practical way. It makes sense. Everyday we have people telling us how to act. 

Whether it’s parents telling us to stop “pouting” or teachers telling us to drop the attitude and participate more. Even friends can unintentionally try to control the way we feel. I’ve grown up with people telling me who I should and should not be. What activities I should and should not participate in. What I should be grateful for and what I should stay away from. “Don’t hang out with those kids they’re bad.” “You really want to do sports? But you’re so good at acting and you have such a beautiful voice, why would you want to do a sport?” “You don’t need anyone. Don’t ‘waste’ your life on a guy”. This battle is all too familiar to me but for others it’s a lot worse. That’s what makes everything about depression so difficult. It’s like, ok so I already have these helicopter parents monitoring my every move, now I have to somehow be in control the time, place, and frequency of the amount of pain that I feel. 

I guess the real point that I’m trying to make here is that, don’t do what I did. Don’t cover up how you’re feeling. I don’t care how you do it. Just don’t. And maybe you’re like me, maybe you’re comfortable showing your vulnerability to people. But most of the time, it’s a bit harder. But just because you’re going through something right now doesn’t completely guarantee that it’s going to get better on it’s own. So don’t wait it out and keep it inside. Reach out. Sometimes you need that extra step. Maybe that means an antidepressant like me. Maybe that means therapy. Whatever it is, you shouldn’t be ashamed. And you most certainly don’t want to hold it in. Because even the most confident people break.