I gave up on my plans to attend the University of Oregon in Eugene so I could be close to the pin-up girl of my dreams. My revised strategy to earn my degree locally and then one day secure a writing position with the Sacramento Bee was a tough decision, but at the time I knew everything was going to be OK because I had her.
All of that came to an end when she decided to end our relationship.
“I have to tell myself everyday I’m in love with you,” she said over the phone.
I sat at the foot of my bed in disbelief, obsessing over everything I had given up. I did my best to be tough and contain my grief, but I was hurting. She was supposed to be the one. I became reclusive, forgetting to eat, and questioned my life. In silence and starvation, I felt truly alone, isolated from any friends or family.
Three weeks later, a near collision in a parking garage caused me to swerve and nearly lose control of my Chevy Camero. I was furious, not because he almost hit me but because he didn’t hit me and end all of the pain I was experiencing. As I sat in my car, my chest pounded and sweat ran down my face, finally meeting my tears. “How could she leave me when I needed her the most?” I cried. This dejection was getting the best of me.
In shame and disgrace, I concealed my depression, but I knew I needed support. No one should have to feel that way. Those battling depression should seek help as soon as possible to talk to somebody who is willing to listen, whether it is a close friend, a family member, a hotline or a mental health care provider.
Many people go through the first stages of depression while attending college. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 75 percent of lifetime cases of depression begin by the age of 24. Unfortunately, many don’t seek help.
In 2011, the American College Health Association released a report stating that 64 percent of college dropouts are no longer in school due to depression and 31 percent of all college students said that they often could not function because of overwhelming depression.
Some of the main reasons college students go through depression are due to living away from family for the first time, missing family or friends, feeling alone, isolated, or facing new and sometimes difficult school work.
The problem is that college students don’t look for advice because of the shame they feel. Forty percent of college students who were dealing with mental health issues did not seek help, according to the National Association of Mental Illness.
Seeking help for my depression was the smartest thing that I’ve ever done and those experiencing depression should do so as well. One silver lining of struggling with depression in college is that it can bring you closer to family or loved ones.
Luckily, I had a family member in whom I could confide my troubles. My mom was the only one that wanted to talk, the only one to give me a shoulder to lean on. She reminded me what it was like to love myself again and encouraged me to understand that I don’t have to do anything for anyone but myself. I can be whomever I want to be and she will still be proud. If I hadn’t told her, I don’t think I would be here today.
Telling someone how I felt was the best thing I have ever done. People should understand that it’s acceptable to feel sadness. I know it’s hard, trust me. And the healing process takes time. Seeking help may seem scary, but don’t be afraid because you’re not alone.