In high school I was diagnosed with depression and put on antidepressants, a very low dose of sertraline, generically known as Zoloft, and recommended to a therapist. I had watched my mom deal with depression for years but I never thought it was something I would have to worry about. I was bullied in high school to the point of wanting to take my own life, but my family kept me from ever doing that. The summer going into my Senior year, I was assaulted by my boyfriend at the time, and I began self-harming, not telling anyone what had happened because I thought it was my fault. I held that secret in for over a year and that secret almost cost me my life. I had contemplated suicide throughout my senior year and started college with the highest dose of anti-depressants I had ever been on.

In the fall of 2011, after my first collegiate soccer season had ended, I had developed an obsession with my outer looks, especially my weight. I began to stop taking my antidepressants because I felt better and thought I was “fixed“. I had stopped eating, I laid in bed, and refused to do anything, still questioning why depression was affecting me. I began to tell my primary physician that I had thoughts of hurting myself, and that’s when we spoke of a higher antidepressant dosage. After the fall of 2011, I was increased to a higher dosage because of the amount of weight that I had lost. I began to hate myself, my family, but most importantly school. I had stayed in bed, missed all my classes, simply because I couldn’t remove myself from my bed.

You don’t really learn about depression or other mental illnesses. Instead, they are swept under the rug and pushed aside as craziness or over dramatized. Depression may not be a physical illness, one that you can see, or one that you need surgery for, but it is real. Due to my depression I lost over 50 pounds in a matter of three months, lost my chance of playing soccer in college, pushed my family and my friends away for me, and most importantly let my grades fall below average. I was in an extremely dark place, that I’m very lucky to have come out of, however some people are not so lucky, and that is where my career choice comes into play.

For me, depression hits home, hard and not many people completely grasp and understand mental illnesses. But with research and time, mental illnesses will no longer be looked down upon, but instead understood.

It’s being afraid to love because who could love you.

It’s hiding in your room for no reason at all.

It has no racial preference.

It’s like drowning while everyone around you is breathing

I’m not cured, or “undepressed” by any means, but I’m learning to cope. That’s what needs to be understood, you can’t just “get over it” or “let it go and be happy” because it’s a disease of your brain. Your brain won’t let you be happy, even when you have a million reasons to be; that’s depression. Even when you’re smiling, you still have depression.