“The loneliest people are the kindest. The saddest people smile the brightest. The most damaged people are the wisest. All because they do not wish to see anyone else suffer the way they do.” – Anonymous
Take a moment to let these words sink in. Then reflect back to a time where you may have felt like everything was crashing around you, your life was falling apart piece by piece. Then understand that you are not the only one. Nor are you alone in this. Trust me, I know how it feels.
I know exactly what it’s like to cry in the shower; no one will get suspicious as to why your eyes are bloodshot – you can blame it on soap in your eyes. No one will hear your sobs into the pillow late at night; you wait for everyone to fall asleep so you can fall apart. There may have been a time, or maybe even 10, when you felt like everything hurt so bad that you just wanted it all to end. I know exactly what that feels like.
While it’s easy for someone who suffers from depression to understand what it’s like, it’s difficult to describe all of this in a way that someone who’s never experienced it can make sense of it. With the stresses of our everyday lives at home and work, college classes definitely do not make it any easier on us. Madison Holleran, 19, University of Pennsylvania track superstar jumped to her death over grades. She was stressing about her 3.5 GPA in the weeks before she jumped from a parking garage in Philadelphia, PA a little over a year ago.
Madison had beauty, brains, and her entire life before her, but she didn’t see it that way. There were people who had talked to her within hours of her suicide and there were no red flags, warnings signs, nothing.
Her parents had noticed that in the last two, three weeks, there was a change in her. Something was off. Something in her had snapped. That’s exactly what happens when you’re depressed. It hits you out of nowhere, all of a sudden, this overwhelming sadness floods over you. You get discouraged and upset, you feel hopeless, sad, and hurt. Then once again, you feel numb to the world and everything that surrounds you. Almost like just because you’re breathing, doesn’t mean you’re alive.
You allow yourself to fall victim to the countless disappointments, the countless tears, as if your life is always going to be embedded with anxiety and sadness. Depression seems to be inevitable, it’s what the cards have in store for you. You allow your mind to wander into dark places, even in the brightest of moments. Laying in bed at night is comforting to some, but to you, it’s seen as a time to be alone with your thoughts, to be alone with the nightmares that you have attempted to ignore all day.
Depression. How does one define it? Close your eyes, take a second to picture what a “depressed” person looks like. For most, you’ll see slit wrists and dark circles. You’ll see tears streaming down the faces of a frail individual. A face of a person who has suffered through so much, and can’t seem to bounce back. Often times, though, it’s the people we least expect. It’s the people who, on the outside, have the most friends, the brightest smiles, and the greatest accomplishments. It’s the people who seem to be on top of the world, even if they feel that the entire world is on top of them. It’s the people who seem to love life, the people who succeed, the people who have their entire lives ahead of them to make the most of. It’s people just like you and me.
And that, perhaps, is the scariest thing.
College teaches us time management, how many shots of alcohol we can handle, and which boys are worth our time. However, we aren’t educated enough about mental illness. Depression doesn’t define you. It doesn’t make you weak, or any less human. Depression is an illness. It’s an illness that is treatable, but often goes ignored. It’s an illness that so many college students deal with, but struggle to fully understand. Be educated. Help a friend. Help yourself.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
Collaboration with: Beth Cormack
Featured Image via Madison Holleran Foundation