Dealing with depression as a college student

Courtesy of Talkspace

Whitney Ervin, Features Editor

To say this semester has been difficult for me is an understatement. Perhaps the most extreme understatement I’ve ever made. Most days I wake up feeling like I never slept. Getting out of bed feels like I’m dragging 50 pound weights around my ankles, and don’t even get me started on how difficult it is to actually start the day. Assuming, of course, the day ever actually gets started instead of me being frozen with panic at all the things I just can’t quite muster up the energy to do.

I’ve struggled with depression for as long as I can remember. It’s a difficult monster to contend with. One that likes to lurk in corners even when I’m finally, finally, finally starting to feel a shred of contentment. Sometimes I fight it, and sometimes it’s easy. It returns to its little corner in the back of my mind, and life goes on. Other times, I just can’t shake it. It slithers around me like a soggy, rain-soaked coat. 

I am depressed, but depression is not who I am. 

I like to make people laugh, and I can do so without much effort. Even at my lowest, I’ve received texts from friends, “you just almost made me spit out my coffee” because of something I’ve sent. Nothing makes me happier than knowing I’ve brought a shred of joy to someone’s day. 

I’m a supportive friend, even sometimes to people I barely know. There’s an empathetic nature I suspect I inherited from my father, who wears his depression more like hardened leather gloves as he works it away on random projects and a garden he boasts about to everyone who will listen. He works hard at ignoring the sadness that’s lingered in him for as long as I can remember. 

I’ve often found myself having conversations with total strangers in which they spill their stresses to me a little at a time. When I worked as a salesperson, this happened more often than actual sales. Perhaps it’s the journalist in me that wants to connect with everyone I meet. 

I am depressed, but depression is not who I am. 

So, why am I writing this? In truth, it started as a catharsis. Writing has always been my strongest talent, or so I’m told. If I can get it all down in words, I can actually make sense of the spilling over thoughts. However, as I sit at my desk on this chilly November day, I can see through the haze that yet again I am trying to connect. 

I’m not special in the weight I carry. In fact, according to Mayo Clinic, 44% of college students reported having symptoms of depression and anxiety. Maybe I have a savior complex, and I want to reach out to tell anyone who feels the same way as me that it’s going to be okay. 

You are depressed, but depression is not who you are. 

If you are struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide, please reach out for help. 

JSU Counseling Services: 256-782-5475 

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255

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