Depressed? Who? ME?!

This past year has been particularly difficult. I started to struggle with my mental health and was diagnosed with depression in February of 2018.

The year has had a lot of ups and downs, with what I feel have been more downs. With January being a month focused on mental health, I felt now would be a perfect time to write this post.

“Have you ever considered that you might be depressed?” Hearing those words come from my doctor’s mouth were life changing. ME? Someone as happy go lucky, incredibly personable, enthusiastic and an all-around extrovert… I never would have thought of myself as being someone with depression.

Even when I expressed this new revelation to a few friends, it was definitely some surprising news. I heard it on all the TV ads, the radio, from friends — mental health doesn’t discriminate. But, I never thought it would be me.

Growing up, I had my fair share of pressures that go into adolescence. But, like everyone else, I found proactive means to help. It wasn’t until my 3rd year of university that I started to feel that the pieces of my life weren’t clicking.

I left a great job so I could finish school but my goals took a turn when I become severely ill with a flareup of Crohn’s Disease. From there, things seemed to have snowballed into dark despair and I struggled to emerge from the tunnel of self pity. It was as if I was wandering around a dark room with no real purpose.

Not thinking, I continued to live my daily life and tried to find balance, but ultimately I succumbed to the pressures, the thoughts, the unrealistic expectations put on myself and all that was around me.

I saw my doctors on and off but it wasn’t until I truly accepted the fact that I may be depressed that I decided to chat with my doctor about treatment options for conquering the disease.

Over the course of the year, I tried multiple methods. I was an individual who did not want to partake in the medical recovery by taking pills so I opted for group therapy, life activities and more social outings.

Everything seemed to work, but as soon as I would fall out of habit or get stressed on a particular project, I once again found myself at rock bottom, struggling to get out.

After a lot of thinking, I decided to give medications a try and although I can’t say if they are effective or not (as I’m still trying to find the right balance of different pills), I find myself more positive in my outlook.

It wasn’t until I started to talk about my depression that I realized it’s widespread. I found that tons of my fellow students, colleagues and individuals had experiences with depressive thoughts and low moments throughout their lives.

I guess I’m writing this post because it’s helping me come to terms with my diagnosis and that I can tackle depression. I know that I’m a winner, I know that I’m a huge personality and I know that I love life. Depression has been the quick approaching invasive vine in my garden of blossoms, but I’m finding that with the support, the more I discuss depression and the less I let the dark days approach, I am cutting away the vines and continuing to thrive.

I picture my depression as a wrinkled shirt. There are a lot of imperfections on the shirt but the bottom line is that it’s still a shirt. As I’m working on battling my diagnosis and working towards getting to a positive state, I picture myself ironing out the wrinkles on different pieces of my shirt.

I’m smoothing out the rough and learning to embrace change, embrace myself and take steps towards active recovery — presenting a clean shirt and the best version of myself.

If you’re reading this and you think you can feel yourself slipping away, I hope that you will find the fight within yourself to push on. For support on campus, check out the Student Mental Health Initiative.

I seriously appreciate the effort and events that are put into our community to help lessen the blow of stress and the rehabilitating experiences put forward by this fantastic team.

University is a wild ride, but on every ride there’s a few bumps and ditches to get through. I’m happy to say, I’m getting through.

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