Imagine having to hold a really full glass of water and never being able to put it down. Every where you have to go, it goes with you. From the moment you wake up to all your classes to when you're trying to hang out with your friends to the moment you're going to back sleep again. The glass always goes with you. This at first may simply seem to be a mild inconvenience. But imagine doing it day in and day out. You could try to ask for help, but the people around you will just see a glass of water. "A small glass is not that heavy, surely you're not really struggling that much," they'd say. Eventually your arm will begin to sear with pain, and not long after that, go completely numb.
Holding on to the glass is part of your life now, you've accepted that. You don't remember what it's like to not be holding on to it and to actually feel your arm and do the things you used to enjoy so much. You want so badly to just let the glass fall. The relief is so tempting. You know, however, that if you dropped the glass, your friends and family and those around you would be left to clean the mess you make. You just can't bear the thought of leaving your loved ones to get hurt on the broken shards of glass that you left around.
The glass is always there. No matter what state of mind you try force on yourself, no matter how good or bad of a day you've had, at the end of it all, you'll still be left holding the glass of water. Even the best possible version of yourself, where all your goals are achieved and your dreams come true, you feel the same. It won't feel bad, it just won't feel good either. It just is. It's haunting for some, but for me it's almost comforting. In a crazy, unpredictable world full of crazy, unpredictable people, at least there will always be some stability.
The truth is, as college students, many people around us are carrying a glass of water. One out of every four college students suffer from depression. 44 percent of students report having some symptoms of depression. 75 percent of students do not seek help for their depression symptoms. Finally, the most troubling statistics- 4 out 5 college students who contemplate or attempt suicide show clear warning signs, and depression is now the number one reason students drop out of school.
In my opinion (and unfortunately in my experience,) the reason depression is not only on the rise but also going untreated, is not because of a lack of resources or awareness. It's because of a very real social stigma surrounding the idea of being depressed. Depression, and many other mental issues such as anxiety and ADHD, have been belittled and reduced by many to nothing but a state of mind. "Just try to feel better. You can be happy if you just try!" Well shit, if only I had thought of that before.
We grow up hearing the same things over and over again. "People with depression are just lazy. They lack motivation, and they're just making excuses. They're "defective" or "broken." People with depression are always really anti-social." Next thing you know, you're in college, nothing has gone the way you expected, you're in a worse place than you've ever experienced, and you're starting to feel depressed. Do you go get help? Of course not. Remember? You're just lazy. You lack motivation, and you're making excuses. You're just being dramatic. You're defective. You're broken. And now, you've become antisocial. It's a never ending cycle of slowly receding further and further into yourself.
My point is simple; if you know somebody who has depression, or any other mental illness, don't just play it off to them as some simple feeling of sadness that can be easily remedied with a positive attitude, or a loss of willpower that can easily be found. Learn about the disease. Let them know that you may not understand what they're feeling, but you can try to listen and put yourself in their shoes. That alone could make a world of difference.
Furthermore, if you have depression (or any other mental illness) or think you may have it, do not be afraid to ask for help. I promise the doctors and the people around you who love you care more than you think they do. It's important to remember that though you may not feel good right now, you can still feel good in the future.