As I’m dragging my zombie self to my classes I encounter the college counselor screaming at me. I had missed the college meeting. She scolded me, shouting, “I must have known surely since it was on the announcements the past two days…I had friends that could tell…I must have noticed my whole grade was gone and I was stupid if I missed all these”. My heart sunk but it wasn’t that I was stupid. I just was mentally sick…but she was so quick to assume I was not sick and was just being careless.
- I sat alone disconnected, or with two juniors I knew very well at the time. The thing is though i was disconnected and I never looked around because I was scared to encounter menacing faces nor did I think I had the right to do so. So I did not notice everyone was gone. I’m trying to block out my grade entirely.
- I missed the announcement for the meeting because I could not get out of my bed to go to school…and I have no friends in my grade to tell me of the meeting.
- Do I tell her all this? …I just apologize and let her words sink their teeth in my brittle skin. To this day, I remember the amount of embarrassment and shame I felt the whole rest of the day and it only made my ‘good day’ into a treacherous bad day. The soundwaves of her voice hitting the ears of everyone else, her judgement eyes, and the opressive heat of the sun and my mind made me want to melt into a puddle. I just wanted to cry but I had to be strong and wear my mask and act like everything was okay.
But I carried that black cloud of thoughts with me through every class and every little ‘activity’…’Once again I failed’ … I felt ashamed….
I suffered with my mind my whole life, since I was 6. I had the rare case of childhood depression, but nonetheless, I repeatedly recall my petty juvenile mind wanting to die because the world would be better off without me. Depression is not impossible for children to have, as i have proved, and adults of course suffer from it as well. However, in this post, I focus only on adolescent depression because I believe, from my personal experience, depression is the most intense at this time. In this week’s post, I describe 3 struggles of going to high school with depression.
- EVERYBODY IS BLIND!
The raging of hormones along with the crippling depression in high school makes it so toxic. Your body is changing and you are shy and timid, to begin with, to talk to people, to come out in the open, and say you’re different from your peers, is much more difficult to do than as an adult. After all, what sane teenager would want to say they don’t belong in any group at all and are perfectly okay with having no friends? It is your first life lesson and it’s hard. Adolescence is a time where you learn about life and deal with all these hormones and if you add any mental illness to the mix, life just becomes that much harder. Fully grown adults don’t even want to admit that they are alone. Yet here I was alone in my grade and I really didn’t know who to talk to. My aunt had been my go to for advice, but I stopped talking with her when she developed cancer and had gone without a support system for 3 years. I did not want to tell anyone and no one could see what I was going through. My parents just thought I was moody and hormonal and the kids just thought I was weird.
The most toxic thing about depression is it isolates you and in this way, is just like being in abusive relationship, except that: your mind becomes the abuser. Your mind tells you others will not care or think you are crazy so you should not tell what you are feeling and thinking, all the while your mind gains more control. In this way, depression is invisible and toxic.
- The battle you cannot win
I am not quiet nor do I skip school on purpose. I want to stop skipping school and to stop being a silent observer. I wanted to be a good star student…to complete all my tasks and homework responsibly…to be open…and talk more like the popular star students, but I just didn’t have the mind to do so. It was so frustrating. It was like no matter how much strength I pushed back on my mind, I could never achieve the same as the normal kids, nor be happy. I was making all the efforts and intricate plans and I wanted to fight and was attempting to but no one could hear, like knocking on the door to be heard when there was a deaf person inside. I couldn’t concentrate on my daily homework for more than 20 minutes without crying. I felt helpless like no thing nor one could alleviate my feelings and make me a functioning human. It seemed so simple and so real a truth: I was stuck like this; I was broken, and a failure.
- The good days are only allusions of control
I wanted to fight and prove I was smart and healthy being alone, like a lone warrior. Yet other days it this hope was ripped from me and I also hated myself and couldn’t show my face to the world. It was a sick roller coaster that no matter of the ups and downs everything was bad as if the roller coaster was in some messed up hell and the whole time you are running away from the demon but he was on the track next to you and you could not run away from it. No matter what you did, and only you could see this and everyone else just sees a normal roller coaster at an amusement park.
At the time, I did not know what was wrong with me. I did not know this is what depression was like. I thought I was just always that freak that did not belong anywhere, and so I just dreamed and longed to find that social group where I did belong…or even to just some human I could connect with to validate my feelings.
Many people do not know how to handle depression if they themselves have not gone through it. -OR… Worse yet, they equate depression with their own times where they felt sad in attempt to relate to the depression. You haven’t done your homework, have not spoken in class or to anyone, peer or teacher, you miss school. Everyone assumes you are being defiant, are hateful, and just do not care, as if you are consciously doing these things as if these things are in your control to do or not do. In reality, you desperately are trying and want to be a good student, and do not hate everyone, but are just mentally unable to do so. The common fatal harsh misunderstanding of mental illness that society has is thinking that the sufferer can control her actions. Mental health issues cause the exact opposite in which case the ill person cannot choose her actions and is a prisoner to her mind in every sense of the analogy. And, when teachers and students do not understand this, the sufferer of mental illness only suffers more.