I started high school amidst chaos. I had started at a different school, a lot of my close friends weren't with me, my mother had just been diagnosed with cancer. And then my best friend’s brother commited suicide. As trite as it sounds, and as little I knew him, his death changed me in a lot of ways. I don't think I’d ever really understood sadness or pain until that summer. When you're younger you don't often get to see that side of adults. The panicked, raw under layer. I found that even they didn't know what to do or say, or how they could reconcile all that had happened. It made my world grey for a long time. I could not, as hard as I tried, clear away all the sadness. Not just the sadness I felt, but his sister’s sadness, his mother’s sadness, his father’s, grandparents’, aunts’, uncles’, friends’. The pain seemed insurmountable. But like all things it faded and made room for new happiness and sweet moments. And I felt better, and different.
It came back though, that pain, in a different way. Like a change in the weather it just seemed to settle in one day. Halfway through Grade 11 I knew something was wrong. I couldn't sleep, I had no energy, everything seemed heavy. I started seeing a therapist, and after a while a psychiatrist who put me on medication. Depression was like a full-time job, everything in my world was affected by it. Every relationship, hobby, memory, goal, opinion – each was coloured by my depression. Most days I did a pretty good job of hiding it, but some days I couldn't find the energy to pretend. My medication gave me terrifying nightmares, I woke up screaming so often that I started not sleeping at all. I was a ghost through most of grade 12. I called in sick most days, but when I was there I didn't feel like I was anyways. My mind was always on something else. It shocked me that not everyone could see my depression, surrounding me, outlining my movements and underlining all my words. I think my best mark was a 57 percent that year, I didn't end up graduating. I couldn't see how I was creating the path in front of me like a moving sidewalk. I was sure I was a failure so I failed. I was sure I was ugly so I started ripping my hair out and picking my acne scars. I was sure eventually I would kill myself so I thought constantly about how I might do it and when.
I thought things were bad when all my friends were still surrounding me and I was still on the “Path to Success” like they were. When they left for university everything fell apart. I became better at hiding things, they weren't around to see the decay. I felt like life had left me behind and gone ahead without me. My mother was beside herself, she would beg me to get out of bed, to please eat something, let us take you somewhere, anywhere, what can we do?? I would just cry and cry until she left again and then go back to sleep for another 13 hours. Ultimately there was nothing for anyone to do except be there for me when I needed them. And they always were. The description I could give you for my friends would make you roll your eyes, because their goodness might seem unreal to those who haven't had the unbelievable privilege of having them in their lives. They are my foundation, my second family. They are the ones who at 16 knew when to advise and when no words were needed. They have stayed awake for so many nights, listening to my hurt and confusion about what was happening to me. They have truly been the branch I grabbed a hold of when I was falling deep down into the dark.
I wish I could give an exact explanation for how I got over depression, but I don't think that’s how it works. I spent a lot of time talking through things, figuring myself out, why things got so bad, and how I could work at making sure they didn't get bad like that again. Medication can be a wonderful thing but it will never be everything. Finding someone you can confide in, even talking out loud to yourself, can be so helpful. I truly believe there is always a way out, and always a solution. You might not be able to see it but it is always there. Today I am in a wonderful relationship, starting college, employed and excited about where I’m going. My depression has been a huge part of becoming the person I am today. My pain has led me to pursuing a career as a social worker, I would like to give back after all the help and guidance I received from the mental health professionals I have seen in my life and continue to see.
I don't think my depression or anxiety will ever fully be gone but I know what it looks like now, and it’s no longer the terrifying monster it once was. I read once that “the deeper sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” And I truly do believe that. There is no one way to live your life, you are ever growing and changing, as is your future. Never ever believe that one moment in your life has the power to define you. If you are experiencing depression I am so sorry. But I need you to know that the world can be a beautiful place, and that one day you will be okay. Maybe not the same as before, but I think better.