I was diagnosed with severe depression when I was 19, but I had symptoms of it since early high school. To realize I had depression may seem upsetting but actually, it was liberating because now I knew how to better deal with how I was feeling.

Whenever I get in a funk, all I want to do is sleep. I have no excuse, yet I don't feel like doing anything because I just don't. I feel lonely, tired, stressed, and sometimes suicidal. During these times, I try to calm myself down and think as clearly as I can. Therefore, here are my five tips to battle depression amid the school season.

1) Acknowledge it

This is the most crucial step. Mental illness is still very hush-hush in our society. People afflicted are usually depicted as violent or weird when oftentimes, it's none of the above. For me, it was hard to acknowledge that I had depression; I knew I would get over it, I knew I should stop being so "selfish", and I knew that "it wasn't a big deal"; all these doubts did not make me any less depressed. Mental illness is a big deal, and the sooner we accept that we have it, the sooner we can get treatment.

2) Make a to-do list

Okay, this may sound counterintuitive, but to-do lists help. Here's the catch: the to-do lists must be short and easy-to-do tasks. Whenever I get in a funk, I make a simple list of things I can do quickly and with little-to-no effort. For example: my list may include: "Get out of bed", "Eat lunch", "Reply to an email", and "Talk with one friend." These tasks seem like no-brainers, but when you're depressed, waking up and getting ready for the day is as hard as running a marathon.

3) Talk to someone

I'll admit it: I hated doing this step, I hated even thinking about doing this step. Why? Because, by allowing myself to be vulnerable, I was afraid I would be seen as weak, selfish, or both. Why would I talk about my issues to someone when they already have their own stuff to deal with? However, for years after never talking to someone about how I was feeling, I became even more lonely, angry, and sad. Of course, they may be limits to what you can say to a loved one, but if you show that you are opening up, chances are, they will accept you no matter what.

Even so, if you don't think you're ready to talk with a close friend or family, a therapist is the best way to go. It's a therapist's job to listen and provide advice, so you might as well vent there. Best thing is, the counseling service here at UMD is free!

4) Know you're not the only one

And I don't mean this by saying that you shouldn't be depressed because your worries don't count. No - what I'm saying is that you are not alone in this struggle. Mental illness is a scary thing, especially when you have to do it alone. You don't even have to go to group therapy sessions; you just have to take comfort in the fact that there are others out there struggling just like you are; in the end, all of us are in it together.

5) Understand it will pass

If you're having a very rough time, and you are thinking about suicide, just keep in mind that it will pass. Whatever is going on will pass. I promise. No matter your struggle, it will pass. You just have to be confident and hopeful for the future. That is much harder said than done, but by the wise words of Professor Dumbledore, "Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light."

I know it's hard. Trust me: I have been through very disturbing, very dark places in the past few years. I never even thought I could make myself suffer like that. However, through these steps, I was able to manage my depression and better yet, come clean about it to myself. Sure, I still struggle with mental illness, and I will always struggle with it, but I am now confident that I can manage it every time it decides to knock me down.