-Day Two. T-Minus seven days. I want to take today to talk to you about something that’s really important to me. Mental Health. Now, I know, you just met me a day ago. Why would I jump into something as serious as Mental Health? Let’s be honest, it would be easier to talk about well anything else. But, before we talk about what I want or what i’ve done you have to understand who I am. You see I am someone who has struggled with diagnosed depression for 2 years. Non diagnosed? Honestly, my whole life. It changes everything: it changes the way I think, act, dress, feel, make decisions, and it just changes my identity. I can guess that you’ve probably already read 100 other explanations of mental health issues. I’m thankful that my community around me here at UVa has been willing to talk about it, and at this point I also feel like it’s a topic that has been talked about so SO much. But at the same time, I know that everyone’s struggle is different. And if my story can help just one person feel affirmed and okay, then it’s all worth it.
Depression isn’t sadness. It’s not, I got a bad grade today and I feel sad. Depression is waking up without good or bad news, and feeling awful. The feeling of self hatred and denial without anyone or anything to set it off. How can you function as an adult with responsibilities, when no matter what you feel hopeless and not worth love? You can’t. You don’t want to get up, and instead you fantasize about life and the world without you. Now this isn’t a chance for me to dive into every nook and cranny of depression, but you have to know that this sucks. It ruins everything. You try to tell the woman you love that you love her. But you can’t because you don’t even know if you love yourself. You tell your parents, and they tell you it’s just a phase. It’ll go away. You just need to address the source and all your problems will be gone. Take a pill, feel better. You see, depression makes you feel uniquely crippled. It makes you feel like you’re the one virus that’s infecting the world.
Jeez, this is tough. What am I supposed to say to make the reader at least leave with a happy ending? Depression is life changing, but it is not identity shaping. I mean it. It is not YOU. It is a problem that exists for a number of reasons, that with a matter of time will be exposed to the light and truth. But it is not your true identity. If you can know one thing. It’s that you are not your depression. You are a person, that is worth love and care, and nothing or no one can tell you different. I know this isn’t about graduation or my future, but it is me. I can say for the first time in my life I am living without depression and it is WEIRD. It is different, but you know what? I’m happy. And I’m learning how to live into who I am, and I hope you can too. Thanks for listening,