Trigger warnings: Self-harm, suicidal thoughts, depression.
Going through recruitment and sprinting across campus to my newfound home is by far one of my favorite college memories. I didn't know it at the time, but it would lead to friendships, experiences, and memories I'm so lucky to have. But I almost left it all.
I've been depressed for as long as I can really remember but the severity of it didn't really hit until my sophomore year of college. At the time, I was living in my sorority's house. Living with so many girls intimidated me, but I was hopeful. I was excited to live with my best friend. I wanted to get to know my sisters better and everyone always spoke of living in the house so highly, that it was so much fun. Not long into the school year's start, though, it suddenly became suffocating.
My mental health was spiraling and I didn't know how to help myself.
I started to lash out. I weaponized my depression and made things worse for myself. The anti-depressants I was on at the time were only compounding the pain. I wouldn't get out of my bed, not even for class. I barely managed to get myself to go to work, but that was only so I could pay my bills and keep living in the house. I started failing everything. I'd self-harm in the showers of the home I thought I'd love. I fought with and inevitably lost my best friend. I felt ostracized by the entire house. I felt trapped. I couldn't even look anyone in the eyes when I'd go downstairs to try to actually eat dinner.
The year I was so excited about became the worst year of my life.
I wasn't one to really hide my struggles. I never really have been. I'd message in the house group chat asking for thoughts and prayers when I was really struggling, hoping someone would hear my cries for help and let me know I wasn't so alone. I'd receive kind messages back and notes on my door from sisters offering me their love, and while they helped, for the time being, it only took a few minutes for my brain to take over again.
I would only go to events that I had to go to. I didn't talk to anyone I didn't have to. The sorority that used to excite me so much became a weight in my heart. I felt like everyone hated me. When I wanted to die so badly, it felt like the sorority I pledged my life to had turned its back on me. I wanted to drop, but I knew I wouldn't have a place to live and I'd lose whatever friends I actually had. I decided to just hold on, just hang in there to try to get through the year.
I'm glad I did.
The people that did reach out to me when I was hurting were the people that kept me in this chapter. Sometimes I still can't shake the feelings of hatred and separation because some of the bridges I burned when I was spiraling still haven't been repaired and probably never will be. But I find myself wanting to go to as many events as I can, wanting to make deeper friendships with the girls I call my sisters, wanting to regain the passion I had lost.
I still struggle with my depression, but I've changed up my medications and I haven't self-harmed in over a year. I still have my bad days, but I'm working to become a better person than I was then. I feel wanted in the chapter, needed even. Instead of feeling like I'm suffocating at our chapter meetings, I'm excited to see and sit by my friends. I'm applying for leadership roles, I'm trying to do more than the bare minimum that I used to do.
Although Greek life wasn't as there for me in my struggles as I had thought and hoped it would've been, some of my best friends were. I think this side of Greek life isn't as talked about as much as it should be, and even writing this I fear a little backlash. We preach sisterhood, but when people are really struggling, so much so that they want to die, we kind of turn a blind eye. It felt like people would only care to address my pain when they couldn't ignore it anymore, and that's not okay.
We should want to do better for our sisters. We shouldn't let someone's mental illness make them feel like they're less of a sister. We shouldn't take part in clique behavior and make someone feel like an outcast in their own home. I'll never forget the sisters who would message me and talk with me about my suicidal thoughts instead of yell at me and slap my self-harm injuries. I was suffocating and didn't have the strength to take care of myself, but they didn't let me drown.
I love my sorority and I love my sisters. I'm in no way trying to belittle the sisterhood I'm so lucky to be part of, just to bring the truth of my struggles to light. To anyone else who has felt painfully alone in a house filled with girls, I see you and I love you.