I was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety when I was a sophomore in college, but I had been dealing with depression since I left for college, I just didn't know it.
My depression was not evident to me until I was sitting in a therapist's office my sophomore year of college doing a depression screening that was entirely new to me. My therapist was asking me questions about my eating habits, my energy levels, my concentration and about whether or not I was thinking about hurting myself. I spent the entirety of my sophomore year going to therapy once a week. If you'd asked me at the time, therapy meant I had a meeting with my track coach, a doctors appointment, a study session or relatively anything other than admitting to people I was depressed and going to therapy for it.
College became one of the most difficult transitions for me. I searched in a lot of the wrong places for happiness; I chased the temporary highs. I wanted to feel, and I felt everything and nothing at all. Depression had a way of making me feel everything at times and absolutely nothing at others. College became a place where I had some of the lowest lows and scariest thoughts I've ever had. More than once I had a plan to take my own life.
Recovery isn't a short process. It isn't easy. But when people tell you that you CAN overcome and work through your depression and that it does get better, I can promise you that it does.
There were a handful of people that knew what I was going through at the time of my first depressive episode. Because of the people that supported me, I am still here today and able to share my story in the hopes that those struggling with depression will know that their lives are so important and valuable. That asking for help and reaching out for support is not selfish. That there is hope.
Depression doesn't define you. That took me a long time to realize. I had good days, I had bad days and I had worse than bad days. I made a lot of mistakes that came with the alcohol abuse, and I had a lot of baggage that came with that. There were times of feeling anxious, sad, lonely, hopeless, helpless, angry, frustrated and like I was never going to feel okay again. I learned it's okay not to be okay, but I had to be open to letting others help me feel okay again. It took therapy, it took building a support system and relying on them, it took taking care of myself and making myself and my happiness a priority. It took change, it took my friends and family helping me change. Depression changed my life, and it gave me an opportunity to help change other's lives. For that, I am humbled and so grateful.