Last year this time, I was starting my first year of college. I can picture it like it was yesterday. Standing in the elevator of my freshman dorm, I though about what it would be like if I died. I had only been at school a couple days, and already I felt like I was not cut out for it. It had always been expected that I go to college, and here I was: alone, scared, and helpless. I did not want to be at college, in this elevator, by myself. Yet I could not think of anywhere I else I wanted to be. I just wanted to stop existing.
My entire first semester I felt this way. I did not enjoy college like I knew I should and I struggled with “sometime sadness;” what was later diagnosed as depression. “I’m not depressed,” I would say to myself. “That is too serious.”
People like to reminisce about how college was the best four years of their life, but if this was supposed to be one of the happiest years of my life then I did not care to stick around for the other three.
I had always been an independent child. My mom would say that my last year of high school I had “one foot out the door.” But it happened to me. I went into college depressed, and it dragged me down every second, every minute, every day.
When I went home for winter break, I hit rock bottom. It seemed as though I could not get a sentence out of my mouth without tearing up. I cried Christmas day while sitting in the kitchen. Nothing had even provoked me.
I was tired of feeling this way, being this way. I had the desire to get better, and so I did.
One-on-one counseling, group therapy, anti-depressants — that was my second semester. And now, I am better. The best I have felt in a really long time actually, even counting high school.
So then what am I so scared about?
Since I was depressed last fall, I live with the underlying fear that it is going to happen again this year. I am terrified that my depression will consume me for a second round.
The first night after being back at college, I could not sleep. I tossed and turned and gave myself a migraine from all my worries. Before I could get out of bed in the morning, I had to calm down by listing my surroundings in my head. It is a technique I learned in group therapy.
I can hear kid’s voices out in the courtyard. I can feel my belly rise up and down against my arm. I can see the sunlight streaming through the window. I can feel the alpaca fur of my teddy bear. I can hear the clock ticking on the wall. I can see my roommate in the bed next to me.
I count on this method to suppress my anxiety. I want to believe that I have acquired the skills to ward off another depression. I won; I cannot and will not let it get the best of me.
I just have to remember that everything is in my head. These demons I am so scared of do not exist. I am a warrior of depression and I will be ready for battle should the demons materialize.