"All it takes is a beautiful fake smile to hide an injured soul and they will never notice how broken you really are."
-- Robin Williams
I remember when it hit me. I remember feeling numb. I remember feeling as if there was no hope.
It started my freshman year of college.
It's funny -- you envision college resembling something similar to "National Lampoon's Animal House." Humorous, adventurous, and all so rewarding. You strutted across your high school graduation stage with the confidence that you survived that four-year rollercoaster. In your mind, things could only get better. As you resigned your high school titles, you had a blank slate.
I came into college the typical overachieving, freshly legal, overly confident, recent high school grad.
The cockiness of just receiving my accolades and diploma filled my head, and there was absolutely no way I would screw this up -- or so I thought.
I remember the anxiety that overwhelmed me as my parents drove away. I was ensured that it was just my nerves overwhelming me, and it was normal -- at least, that's what they told me.
Weeks passed, and as the college work began to overwhelm me -- it started.
Surely, every single person has bad days. But it's when the bad starts to outnumber the good that you should start worrying.
Unfortunately, I didn't notice how the bad days started to take over, and two months into my freshman year, every day became a bad day. I started missing classes, my grades dropped, my self esteem was at it's lowest. I began to sleep all day, and all of the things that once made me happy no longer put a smile on my face.
It's almost as if the world was moving around me, but I was frozen -- watching everyone else live as I remained stagnant.
There were days at a time I slept, and there were weeks I felt as if I hadn't slept at all. There were days I would eat everything in front of me, and there would be weeks at a time that I ate nothing. I let my work pile up, and I shut myself out from the world around me. I began to have an excuse for everything--why I was so tired, why I didn't go to class, why I wasn't eating, why I rarely left my room.
I began to hate myself. How I looked, how I talked, my choice of extra curricular activities -- you name it, I found a reason to beat myself up about it.
I felt my self-destruction, but I had no idea how to stop it.
I remember trying to masking my sadness. I tried to surround myself with people who seemed happy, hoping to absorb their magical talent to smile each and every day. I attempted to emulate their actions in hopes of being happy. When that didn't work, I tried to fill this newfound void within me with food, with working out four hours a day, with looking busy so no one would talk to me.
I figured if I was sad, I deserved to be alone. Something was wrong with me -- how could so many people be so happy while I drowned in my own despair? I began to become reckless. I didn't care about my grades, my health, or anyone around me. I began doing things I never wanted to. Going to parties that I hated, giving my time to the wrong kind of boys, consuming things I should have never had access to, all for momentary happiness.
I woke up each day feeling emptier than the last. I was slowly but surely killing myself.
My mind was in a constant battle between who I was before college and struggling to accept the person I was becoming. I didn't like who I was becoming, and was screaming for help through my actions.
No one noticed, and things got worse.
I remember a once overly joyous girl who found the best in everything.
My God, do I miss her.
I always thought of people with depression as the overly dramatic who saw that bad in everything and continually whined. Depression was something I never thought I would have to deal with. In my mind, it just couldn't have happened to me.
36.4 percent of college students experience depression. Of these numbers, 24.5 percent of students are taking psychotropic medications.
Luckily enough, I sought the help I needed.
A year ago, I saw no way out but through self destruction.
Today I'm able to do the things I used to love, and have found new things to love through the rediscovery of myself.
I wish I could say that every single day is a happy day. I wish I could say that I'm "cured."
I wish I could say I don't have to take mental health days and recuperate from my mind that is at war with itself.
What I can say is that by getting the proper help that I needed, it's gotten better.
I'm able to eat three meals a day, keep a healthy exercise routine, make friends, have a healthy relationship, and be much more positive all around.
I write this with tears in my eyes remembering how helpless and afraid I felt of my mind.
I pray this story reaches all that need to hear.
You are not alone.
Depression isn't always laying in bed all day, nor is it always consistently crying.
Depression doesn't always look the same.
Far too often, it entraps the ones who look the happiest. You know yourself better than anyone else. If you feel there is something wrong, talk to someone.
For those struggling to get the help that they need, you are, and I repeat, you ARE worth more than your depression. You are worth more than any mental illness that invades your mind every day.
Take care of yourself, better days are coming.