‘I’m positive you’re depressed, and that’s just from this one conversation.’ I froze inside.’: College student shocked by depression diagnosis, ‘It’s good to know people aren’t supposed to operate like this.’

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“I didn’t find out I was clinically depressed until my first year of college, which was just a few years ago. My family is very against medicine and doctors, so it’s not as if I was going to the doctors a lot when I was younger. I’d have conversations with my friends, deep ones where we’d talk about their home situation or something like that. I just wouldn’t see the connection between those events and mental health, or lack thereof. Maybe I was too wrapped up in their problems to really focus on my own, or maybe I’d just been depressed for so long I thought it was normal. Maybe I just didn’t really know what depression was. 

I was talking to my roommate, who was sharing how sometimes she couldn’t get out of bed or other times, she just wanted to blip out of existence for a second or a million seconds. I could relate because some days, I just couldn’t find happiness or I just felt too mentally exhausted to do anything. I said, ‘Oh, yeah. You’ve got depression. I always forget that.’ She gave me a bit of a weird look and said, ‘Dude. I’m about 96 percent positive you’re depressed, and that’s just coming from this one conversation.’ It took me a minute, but after she said that, it sort of seemed to click. I just seemed to freeze inside. Was I actually depressed? Did I really have depression? I hadn’t really thought of it, of me having depression. If someone with X says you’ve also got X…

Courtesy of Evelyn Malkovich

From how I understood depression, it made you isolate yourself. Depressed people ate ice cream to deal with their feelings or didn’t eat at all. Depressed people didn’t shower for a few days and cried a lot. I didn’t do any of that. My eating habits were fine, I showered normally, and I didn’t cry too much unless there was a sappy movie on. I didn’t fit the picture of depression, so of course, I wouldn’t be depressed. I was just tired or stressed. Not depressed, though. I smiled. I wore bright colors like red and yellow. I hung out with friends. Depression stops all of that, right?

I asked my roommate about it a couple of days later, and her description made sense to me. ‘It’s like someone placed you into a blank room, with no furniture or door or windows or anything in it, and they expect you to thrive in it. You don’t know the date, so you lose track of time. Everything just becomes a blank haze until finally you’re let out of the room. It’s been three weeks and you see colors again, and then you realize what just happened.’ 

After she said that, I looked up depression online. I read articles on it. I looked up treatment options, what sort of therapy was best, what causes depression. I looked up forums dedicated to mental health. I went to the health center on campus and signed up for therapy, but I just didn’t have the time to go. I may have become slightly obsessed with this thing, honestly. I wanted to learn as much as I could about it. When I went home for the summer, I went to the doctor’s on my own and ‘forgot’ to mention it to my parents. It didn’t take very long to get diagnosed with depression. I’m pretty sure the doctor just looked at me and wrote ‘depression’ on her notepad, to be honest. She didn’t give me a prescription, just highly recommended I see someone once a week for an hour. 

Courtesy of Evelyn Malkovich

The first day of therapy was strange. It sort of felt like a getting-to-know-you conversation, except digging into all the places you don’t want to deal with. I’d never really done that before, especially in a clinical setting, so it sort of set me off. It was helpful, though. When I went the next week, I ended up breaking down in the middle of the session. In retrospect, it was good that happened, but I was so embarrassed at the moment. I think I cried four more times that day, just thinking about the session and myself. That was a stereotypical depression night, with used tissues, a carton of ice cream, and a fuzzy blanket wrapped around me as I tried to distract myself with Netflix. 

My parents still don’t know I went to the doctor’s all those months ago, or that I attend therapy regularly now. I don’t know what they would do, honestly. It’s kind of ridiculous I need to hide going to the doctor, especially when it’s for my brain and all. I need to keep going. I know what not to do when I’m a parent, so there’s that. Besides, I have plenty of support at school and online. 

Courtesy of Evelyn Malkovich

Therapy has really helped me, along with the support system I have at school and online. It’s good to know when it’s a depression day, I have people to help me get through it. They don’t let me isolate when I feel the need to. They send me memes at random to make me smile and are always there for hugs or just sitting there, being there. Maybe being diagnosed has made me notice people’s kindness more, or maybe it’s caused people to be kinder. Either way, at least one positive thing has come from being diagnosed. 

Finally having a name for what I have is refreshing, to put it shortly. It’s good to know people aren’t supposed to operate like this and a whole bunch of people in the world aren’t living like this. It gives me hope, I guess. For when I’m better. Some days are easier than others, of course, but I’m getting there.”

Courtesy of Evelyn Malkovich

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Evelyn Malkovich of Winterset, Iowa. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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