When you’re young it’s hard to explain to a parent or friend that the reason why you’re not speaking is not because you don’t want to but because your body simply won’t allow it. It’s hard to explain to them that there is no reason why you’re sad, you just are. It’s hard to explain why you have to dig your nails into your palm just to feel something; anything just to know that there’s a person inside your body. It’s hard to explain the crippling feeling that depression and anxiety have made me feel for my entire life.
I’ve always been the quiet type. Both my parents and myself had blamed my solitude and sadness on being shy when in reality we had confused my sadness with shyness. I didn’t know how to explain the way I was feeling at such a young age but figured it was normal and I would grow out of it. However, as I grew older my sadness only became clearer, I began experiencing full body numbness and ultimately began feeling entirely detached from myself. As the years progressed my friends and family became familiar with constant mood swings and unexplainable sadness but nobody would have ever thought to pin my symptoms to depression and anxiety.
It wasn’t until my first year of university that I had no choice but to speak up about the way I had been feeling. I would spend hours crying in my room alone for no reason at all, I would miss classes and my grades were rapidly slipping. I was spending all my time alone in isolation, not sleeping at night and starting fights with my friends and boyfriend. I couldn’t handle myself anymore, not the sadness, the crying and the numbness that my depression was making me feel. I finally realized there was a problem with the way I was feeling and I needed to talk to someone before it was too late.
One night I sat down with my boyfriend, Tyler, and confessed to him how I was feeling and what I was doing to manage my numbness. We talked for a long time, and while I thought my confession would surely scare him away it did nothing but bring us closer together. For a long time Tyler was the only one who knew about my depression because I was too embarrassed to share this information with my friends. I thought depression meant I was weak and I was ashamed that my own body was fighting against itself. However Tyler assured me that being depressed didn’t mean I was weak, it just meant I needed some help. With his unconditional support, I managed to work up the courage to tell my family and friends all that I told him and gain their encouragement as well. I owe a lot to Tyler, he’s been there for me at all hours of the day and night, always tries his best to comfort me and never fails to put a smile on my face even if it’s through a sheet of tears. He encouraged me to talk to my friends and family about how I was feeling which allowed me to expand my support system.
As I began to open up to my family and then my friends I was becoming more relieved. While my depression was still there, the burden of my friends thinking I was moody and antisocial and the burden of my family thinking I was grumpy and rude, was taken off my back. Talking to my friends about my emotions allowed me to become closer with them as I no longer had to take myself out of situations to hide my sadness, instead my friends were able to recognize when my depression was settling in and help turn my mood around.
Today I am able to openly and confidently speak out about my depression due to the incredible support of my friends and family. They are the ones that encouraged me to begin therapy and take medication for my mental illness. Although at times it feels like the medication is not working and therapy is a waste of time, they’re always there to remind me just how important it is to continue getting help. They are there for me whenever I need them and I couldn’t be more thankful to have them in my life. I strongly encourage anyone suffering to talk to a friend or family member to get the help you need. Speaking out helped change my life and I bet it can change yours too!