I remember so clearly being 18 years old and filled with excitement to close one chapter of life and begin the next. There was nothing more I wanted than to get away from home. Going away to college was my ultimate key to happiness. I was tired of being trapped in a strict and very critical home environment. Plus, I had very few close high school friends. I was just so unhappy because of that. So my ultimate goal was to leave for college. Little did I know that college would unlock the true reason behind my unhappiness. Keep reading to learn how I realized I suffered from depression in college.
My Transition to College
When I first moved away to college, I was filled with such excitement. I had a nice place off-campus, I felt invincible because I had taken college classes while in high school and I also already had a job lined up. To add to this, I was happy that one of my close high school friends would also be attending the university. Then reality hit. Community college nor high school had prepared me for the rigor of my university’s classes. Retail was a job that I was highly unpassionate and unmotivated about. Organic chemistry was a beast that I was unable to slay. It was still hard for me to make deeply rooted friendships. To make it all worse, I realized that my mind was now my critical home. The key to my happiness was actually the key to my worse experience with depression.
My Signs of Depression in College
Within this first year, I was also experiencing physical symptoms. Every month I was getting sick. I was constantly fatigued no matter how much rest I would get. Some days I didn’t even want to get out of bed to go work or attend class. Then came the mental and emotional symptoms. Important dates would constantly slip my mind. My personal space had fallen into disarray. I would hang out with friends and socialize yet I still felt so lonely and disconnected. In class and while studying I was easily distracted. I also had a difficult time concentrating on tasks. It was as though my entire life felt hopeless and like failure was looming around the corner.
These heavy emotions and physical symptoms took a huge toll on my performance in school and my emotional health. I felt like I was just lazy and doomed to failure. Having depression never really registered in my mind as the reason for everything. Living just felt like a constant struggle, like wading in the middle of the ocean. All I craved was happiness so badly, so I would engage in risky behavior to numb many of these feelings. I felt awful about myself and ashamed so I kept my struggles to myself.
Hitting Rock Bottom of Depression in College
For me, it took rock bottom and a good friend to help me realize that I was suffering from depression and needed help. During my second year of college, my life began to spiral towards rock bottom. It was like my life was the series of unfortunate events. I was still fatigued and my bad habits had started to affect my health. My concentration skills and memory were depleted, and my school work was suffering. I was having lots of car issues, and poor choices only accelerated this problem. Then my car issues started to create job issues, which lead to stress at work. I was emotionally drained. I had switched from suicide ideation to having a plan. To top it off my outlook on life was morbid, to say the least. Although all this was going on inside no one ever knew. I kept everything locked away behind a smile. Despite this, my pain spilled out in ways that those who truly cared noticed. It took one good friend telling me about free on-campus resources and that I needed help to get me on the path to healing.
You Can (AND WILL) Overcome
In the end, I was able to overcome depression in college and I still have to overcome each day. Overcoming allowed me to realize that true happiness came from healing, not moving. This helped me to see that the true and consistent source of happiness was not circumstantial.
If you are in college or the workforce and believe you are experiencing severe depression just remember that you are not alone. Although everyone’s experiences are different, I truly believe there is hope for every unique situation. My hope is that you will find healing from depression in a way that works best for you. As always, if you suffer from severe mental illness or thoughts of suicide I want to encourage you to seek help today. Find a local therapist or contact the National Suicide Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-8255 or texting “START” to 741-741.