How well do you really know anyone?
The first time that question ever even crossed my mind was my junior year of college. I was sprawled out across my bedroom floor along side my five housemates, heavily intoxicated with about six beers too many, slurring my words as we got to know each other for the first time, even though we had been “inseparable” for years.
Oddly enough, after that night, we never spoke of it again, even though I’m sure none of us will forget what was said. That was the night I found out my roommate of two years ran across the train tracks a few months prior to stop her brother from jumping and got PTSD even though she got there just in time. That was the night I found out about my best friend’s borderline eating disorder and body image issues. That was the night I found out about all the family members that have been diagnosed with cancer, siblings getting kicked out of the house, multiple deaths, and unfortunately, much more. And last, but certainly not least, that was the night I told all of my closest friends that I had three anxiety disorders and was suffered from depression.
If you ask anyone that knows me, I am “the smart one,” “the athletic one,” or “the funny one.” Or, all three. I am the one who finished high school with a GPA above a 4.0 and could have went to an Ivy League college, but instead chose to take a athletic scholarship to play soccer. I am the one who won rookie of the year my freshman year and graduated with my Bachelor’s Degree in only three years. Everyone knew that life came easy to me, and I definitely knew how lucky I was. I was always surrounded by more than enough friends and had the greatest, most supportive parents around.
So, what was the problem? You probably think you’re missing a part of the story, but you’re not. There was no obvious reason why I would cry myself to sleep at night. Depression is like that.
My therapist said, “Something didn’t click in my childhood,” which is surely possible. Or, maybe depression and anxiety is genetic, which is also possible. Maybe it was because I didn’t really like soccer anymore, but kept playing because it made my dad so unbelievably happy. Maybe it was because I was afraid of not being loved unconditionally if I wasn’t so perfect all the time. Or, maybe it was because my friendships were superficial and I never really felt loyalty. The possibilities are endless, but the end result was the same.
But, this article isn’t really about me, although I know it seems like it.
This article is about you, and how you lock away your deepest secrets behind that mask you put on everyday, revealing them to almost no one. This article is about all of those who have taken their own lives because they suffered from mental illness or just felt like they didn’t belong. This article is about your best friend, who is facing more demons than you can ever imagine. This article is about a society that needs to start a conversation.
Maybe, instead of ignorantly making fun of my semi colon tattoo, take thirty seconds out of your day to Google the meaning behind it, or maybe just ask me. And the next time you feel sad, tell your best friend why. And you see that girl sitting alone? Invite her to sit with you. The most popular guy at school? Ask him what he fears the most. Make yourself available. Make yourself approachable. Don’t be afraid to speak up for what you deserve, and don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. I’d like to believe that people are inherently good, but those who aren’t, I’ve learned to stop wasting your time. I’ve spent my whole life hiding and trying to please people that didn’t deserve it, and maybe that’s where the anxiety and depression comes from. Maybe that’s why we all feel so alone sometimes.
So, the answer to my question is no. You really don’t know anyone.
But, now you know me. So, I hope I have inspired you to share a little bit about yourself, too.