July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, so I was inspired to share my relationship with depression and living with it on a daily basis. A lot of people diagnose themselves with depression when they are feeling down about a break up or the death of a loved one, but depression isn't just sadness. Depression is an illness that literally changes the composition of hormones in your brain. This imbalance of hormones can make someone feel emotions that aren't real. In my experience, I have felt emotions of uselessness, helplessness, and have even had suicidal thoughts.

Since around the seventh grade, I started feeling these emotions despite having friends around me and being a generally happy kid. It was not until my freshman year of college that I was diagnosed with depression. So many years of false emotions with nobody to lean on made my life so much harder than it had to be. I felt ashamed and didn't want sympathy, so I didn't tell anyone. I was diagnosed with anxiety my sophomore year of high school, after which I was put on medication that I am still taking to this day, but I didn't realize there was more to my story.

Depression is a journey. You can't just ignore it or put a band-aid over it and cross your fingers that it will go away. This is something you have to take head-on if you ever want relief. I have Manic Depression, which means I have random episodes of extreme elation and extreme depression. Sometimes these mood changes occur within a few months, weeks, or even within one day. It is not particularly triggered by anything, which makes it so hard to deal with. I never know when I will be happy or when I won't be able to sleep at night.

Since being diagnosed with depression, my eyes have been opened. I have accepted that I have a problem and I actually need to do something about it. If you struggle with depression, or any mental illness, know that you are not alone. Everywhere you look, there are people silently struggling along with you. If you haven't met with a mental health professional or even your physician and you have felt some of the emotions I mentioned, please do. If you want to feel actual real feelings, you have to come to terms with your illness like I did. It is not easy, but it is definitely worth it.