My personal experience with depression

by Joe Negen, Editorial

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Hi, I’m Joe, a lot of you probably know me. I’m the captain of the cross country team, I’m in all of the theater shows, I take AP classes, I’m hoping to go to the University of Michigan next year. I also struggle with severe depression. I’ve cut myself too many times to keep track of, I’ve thought about taking my own life many, many times. At the beginning of this year, I was gone for a little while; I was in a mental hospital. This is my story, for anyone who is interested.

At the end of my sophomore year, I had a severe concussion and haven’t been right since. I remember the first time I thought I might be better off dead. I was lying in bed thinking about every mistake that I’d ever made. I have a damn near photographic memory in regards to mistakes that I’ve made, successes are much easier to forget.

As I lay there that idea found some purchase in my brain, and then became a fixture there, sometimes less present than others, but always there. This isn’t to say that there weren’t times that I felt good, had fun, or enjoyed myself. It was just that the undercurrent of sadness, despair, and apathy that I often wanted to stop fighting and let it take me. When I’d cut myself I felt like a little kid playing with fire. I knew that it was bad for me, but I couldn’t help but be drawn to it. The feeling of pain was sometimes the only thing that kept me grounded. It made me feel alive. When I felt like a shell of myself, seeing myself bleed reminded me that I was still a person.

Depression is hard because it’s not a disease that can be seen. If I had chickenpox you’d see the spots on my body and you’d know that something was wrong with me. I kept the way I felt from everyone I knew, including my parents, for a long time, so no one knew that anything was wrong with me. The rhetoric surrounding mental illness compounds the problem, as they are often regarded as people just whining, or feeling sorry for themselves. I can tell you with the utmost sincerity that this is not the case; depression is a real disease and it can be debilitating.

I don’t tell this story to ask for sympathy or pity. I know that this might surprise many  people, and that’s part of the point. I know I’m not what most people would think of when they imagine someone who cut himself, and that’s part of the point. I know that I am gregarious and happy in school, and that’s part of the point. This can happen to anyone. If there is one lesson that I’ve taken from all of this it is that it’s okay to ask for help. If you ever find yourself in a situation like this, talk to somebody, get help, and remember, you are important.

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