I am writing this to anyone and everyone who has had to experience depression one way or another. Generally speaking, a person will experience some form of depression at least once in their lifetime. It is normal to feel sad once in awhile. However, when that sadness lingers and disrupts your ability to function, it turns into depression. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “In 2014, an estimated 15.7 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States had, at least, one major depressive episode in the past year. This number represented 6.7 percent of all U.S. adults.”

That is too many people suffering to be ignored. I know all too well the devastation and turmoil that depression invokes. I know because I've battled the big bad blues for over seven years now. In all that time, I never thought it was possible to be where I am today, advocating for positive change. I am going to share my story with you in the hopes of spreading awareness, dispelling the mental health stigma that is sadly extremely prevalent in America and to inspire all of those who are suffering, and/or know someone who is, to seek help. Suffering is part of the human condition, but we don’t have to suffer alone. It helps to share that burden with others who care that you may be crushed under its weight. I am living proof that it is possible to beat depression.

As far back as I can remember, I knew depression was always been with me, like a shadow glued to my side. It all went downhill seven years ago, strolling alongside me since high school. It was like a bag was put over my head and I was forced to suffocate to death, slowly but surely. It hit me like a ton of bricks and I wasn’t ready for the impact. Over the years, depression grew on me like a cancer, as if my lungs were filled with my tears instead of all the oxygen. It started off so innocently. I never imagined how much of a war it would be for me, in my life, for my life. It’s been a daily battle since the age of 15. That was the year I entered high school and when depression became me.

I was like any other student at the time: new, naive, and unknown. I made a few friends along the way, some who I am still best friends with today. I tried my best to be an all around stand up person. I came to school every day with a forced smile and chatted with my friends to blend in. At home, I did all of my chores and kept my head in a book, which my single-working mother approved of. Nonetheless, I desperately let my normality disguise my true inner torment so no one would suspect a thing. I spent every day alone in my room. Every day was a set and calculated routine. I would wake up at 5:55 a.m. every morning, go to school, come home and repeat. The days became weeks and the weeks became months, which became years. Before I knew it, time was just a subjective illusion that I could measure my pain with. I spent my 16th birthday alone in my room and didn’t socialize with anyone. I hated the fact that I had been born. As time dragged on, so did the depression. I would hurdle it around like a camel carrying water stumbling through an empty desert.

At the age of 17, my depression got so bad I became catatonic. I was nothing more than the darkness in the corner, brewing ruin in my damaged DNA. Every night, I slept for two hours, turning me into a zombie and wishing I would never wake up for the next day. My eating was erratic; sometimes I would eat and sometimes I wouldn’t. I was a prisoner of war inside my head and the loneliness took its toll. The only escape I knew of was death, as I spent most of my time just thinking about it since that was all I could do. At the age of 18, depression nearly took everything from me as I finally started to realize my life was hanging by a thread. Fast forward to now, I still think about death regularly. The difference now is in knowing that no matter whether or not we succumb to death, our souls will still go on. We will still be fighting for our lives.

Depression is like trying to run a marathon while being zapped by 100 tasers. It is like a leech; it latches on to some part of you where you cannot reach to remove it. It sucks all the life out of you until there is nothing left. It’s like trying to remove a slug stuck on your forehead with your tongue, it’s just not possible. This isn’t something you can just get over through wishful thinking. It’s never that simple. In order to take off the leech, someone who is willing, able and genuine has to help you take it off. You cannot do this alone. It took me many years to understand this. Help will always be available. The hardest part is taking the first steps on the road to recovery. No matter what, you can do it! We can beat this together! Here is a poem, “The Spider In The Night,” I wrote many years ago describing my depression. I am hoping it will help others feel less alone in all of this and inspire you to reach out for help.

“It’s dangerous.

And it’s scary,

how it gets you,

so quick and fast.

You don’t even realize it. You don’t realize anything.

It’s like a spider in the night.

It creeps up, as small as it is,

and gets you—just like that.

So quick, so sudden

and it kills you.

It makes you sad, makes you mad,

makes you bleed, and die inside,

even when you don’t know why.

It takes you away and it leaves you with nothing.

Oh how it creeps up on you like a spider in the night,

slowly but surely, deadly silent,

it takes away your world, your friends, your everything,

like a spider in the night

it crawls

it sneaks up on you and gets you

just like that.”

It may not seem like it, but you are not alone. Depression can kill you if you let it. I am here to say that no matter what, everything is going to be OK! If you are currently struggling with depression, there is hope. It is possible to win battling the big bad blues. Help is always just a call, text, hug or a moment away. Never be afraid to reach out. I wish you all the best of luck and hope on your journey to recovery. With all my love, stay strong everyone!

United States Various Hotlines

  • DEPRESSION HOTLINE:1-630-482-9696
  • LIFE LINE: 1-800-273-8255
  • TREVOR PROJECT: 1-866-488-7386
  • SEXUALITY SUPPORT: 1-800-246-7743
  • EATING DISORDERS HOTLINE: 1-847-831-3438
  • RAPE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT: 1-800-656-4673
  • GRIEF SUPPORT: 1-650-321-5272
  • RUNAWAY: 1-800-843-5200, 1-800-843-5678, 1-800-621-4000
  • EXHALE: AFTER ABORTION HOTLINE/PRO-VOICE: 1-866-439–4253

WORLDWIDE SUICIDE HOTLINES:

  • AUSTRIA 01-713-3374
  • AUSTRALIA 1-800-817-569
  • BRAZIL 21-233-9191
  • CANADA 514-723-4000
  • CHINA 852-2382-0000
  • HOLLAND 0900-0767
  • HUNGARY 62-420-111
  • INDIA 91-22-307-3451
  • ITALY 800-86-00-22 (ROMA) 199-284-284 (TRENTO)
  • MALAYSIA 03-756-8144
  • MEXICO 525-510-2550
  • NEW ZEALAND 4-473-9739
  • NORWAY 815-33-300
  • DENMARK 70-201-201
  • EGYPT 7621602
  • FINLAND 040-5032199
  • PORTUGAL 239-72-10-10
  • REPUBLIC OF IRELAND 1850-60-90-90
  • RUSSIA 8-20-222-82-10
  • SINGAPORE 800-221-4444 OR 000-227-0309
  • SOUTH AFRICA 0861-322-322
  • SOUTH KOREA 2-715-8600
  • SPAIN 91-459-00-50
  • SRI VINCENT 1-692-909
  • SWEDEN 031-711-2400
  • SWITZERLAND 143
  • THAILAND 02-249-9977
  • TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO 868-645-2800
  • UKRAINE 0487-327715 OR 0482-226565
  • UNITED KINGDOM 08457-90-90-90
  • UNITED STATES 1-800-SUICIDE (7842433) OR 1-800-TALK(8255) OR - 1-800-827-757
  • Self-Injury Support: 1-800-DONT CUT (1-800-366-8288) (www.selfinjury.com)
  • Eating Disorders Awareness and Prevention: 1-800-931-2237 (Hours: 8am-noon daily, PST)
  • Eating Disorders Center: 1-888-236-1188
  • Help Finding a Therapist: 1-800-THERAPIST (1-800-843-7274)
  • Panic Disorder Information and Support: 1-800-64-PANIC (1-800-647-2642)
  • TalkZone (Peer Counselors): 1-800-475-TALK (1-800-475-2855)
  • Parental Stress Hotline: 1-800-632-8188
  • National AIDS Helpline: (UK Only) 0800 567 123

Various Depression Hotlines

  • Suicide Hotline (US, UK, Canada & Singapore): 1-800-SUICIDE (2433)
  • Suicide hotline (New Zealand): 0800 543 354
  • Depression hotline: 1-630-482-9696
  • Suicide Crisis Line: 1-800-999-9999
  • National Suicide Prevention Helpline: 1-800-273-TALK (8245)
  • National Adolescent Suicide Helpline: 1-800-621-4000
  • Postpartum Depression: 1-800-PPD-MOMS
  • NDMDA Depression Hotline – Support Group: 1-800-826-3632
  • Veterans: 1-877-VET2VET
  • Crisis Help Line – For Any Kind of Crisis: 1-800-233-4357
  • Suicide & Depression Crisis Line – Covenant House: 1-800-999-9999

Various Teenage Hotlines

  • National Youth Crisis Support: 1-800-448-4663
  • Youth America Hotline: 1-877-YOUTHLINE (1-877-968-8454)
  • Covenant House Nine-Line (Teens): 1-800-999-9999
  • Boys Town National: 1-800-448-3000
  • Teen Helpline: 1-800-400-0900
  • TeenLine: 1-800-522-8336
  • Youth Crisis Support: 1-800-448-4663 or 1-800-422-0009
  • Runaway Support (All Calls are Confidential): 800-231-6946
  • Childline: (UK Only) 0800 1111
  • Kids Helpline (Australia) 1800 55 1800
  • b-eat youthline (UK): 08456347650 (open Mon-Fri 4.30pm - 8.30pm, Saturday 1pm-4.30pm)

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Hotlines

  • National Association for Children of Alcoholics: 1-888-55-4COAS (1-888-554-2627)
  • National Drug Abuse: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
  • Al-Anon/Alateen Hope & Help for young people who are the relatives & friends of a problem drinker): 1-800-344-2666
  • Alcohol/Drug Abuse Hotline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
  • Be Sober Hotline: 1-800-BE-SOBER (1-800-237-6237)
  • Cocaine Help Line: 1-800-COCAINE (1-800-262-2463)
  • 24 Hour Cocaine Support Line: 1-800-992-9239
  • Ecstasy Addiction: 1-800-468-6933
  • Marijuana Anonymous: 1-800-766-6779
  • Drinkline (UK): 0800 9178282
  • Frank (UK): 0800776600