Don’t Let Life Get You Down
Updated: Nov 18, 2019
By: Emma Reyes
Religion, money, and politics. Those are the three things that I remember being told not to bring up in conversation. The topics are private and personal, or it’s nosy to ask about, or you just don’t ask unless you’re looking for a fight (looking at you politics). However, there’s another topic that people don’t like to talk about: Mental illness.
I’ll admit, things have gotten better over the last decade, but unless both people in the conversation have a mental illness most are still uncomfortable talking about it.
Dealing with depression and anxiety is hard when you don’t have anyone to talk to. Dealing with these things when you’re in college is even tougher. It’s the first time you’re without a support system and you have to attend all these classes and make friends and find a club to join. There are internships and jobs and making sure you’re eating properly and taking care of yourself when you get sick and it’s just - it’s just hard.
I was walking back to my apartment in the fall, a couple years ago, when I decided to cross the road. Not at the intersection, just crossing because I could. I was tired and didn’t want to have to walk to the intersection. I didn’t really look bothways, only sort of glanced before I strolled across. I almost got hit by a truck that day. It was a big red pickup with one of those weird light bars above the windshield.
Do you know what the first thing that went through my mind was? It wasn’t worrying about being hit by the car or a, “That was close.” My first thought was that I didn’t really care if the truck had hit me. It would have been nice if I had been just a bit slower. Only after that went through my mind, did any kind of emotion flash through me. I didn’t want to die, not really, but depression doesn’t care about what you want. It will take you and pull you down until you can’t see anything good in life. I reached my apartment in a daze and called my sister to recount my experience. She was worried. The next day I made an appointment with the counseling services offered by the university.
I’m not ashamed to have needed counseling. Life is hard and people are fragile. I stayed with a therapist for two years. The first year was spent dealing with my depression, the next year with my anxiety. Sometime in those two years I was recommended medication to help me deal with my mental illness.
I remember calling up my parents wondering if something was wrong with me if I agreed to take the medication. Would I be lesser if I accepted it? Could I really deal with taking this medication for the rest of my life? What if it didn’t work?
Of course, in hindsight, that was probably the depression talking. Everything that I used to help myself - therapy, medication - they were tools to make me better. I was struggling with school, and sinking into a fugue was not how I should live my life.
What I’m trying to say is that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. If you need help, it’s okay to talk with someone. If you need medication to make all the chemicals in your brain do the right thing, then hey, it’s a new part of your nightly routine. Life is an experience. It has its ups and its downs. There’s no need to suffer if you can do something to fix it. When I was younger, I thought that smiling was something that needed to be done to feel happy. Now I know that smiling just happens. You don’t have to force it if you take of yourself and just are happy.