By Nupur Kudapkar
Google defines depression as “a mental condition characterized by feelings of severe despondency and dejection, typically also with feelings of inadequacy and guilt, often accompanied by lack of energy and disturbance of appetite and sleep” (Mayo Clinic). However, depression is so much more than that, and people like myself who suffer from this vile illness know that. I could sit here and talk about the facts and effects of depression, but instead, I am going to use this issue to highlight my story and show that you are not alone in your battle. You are loved and you are seen.
Depression takes and takes until it can’t anymore; until you are lying on the ground, sobbing and numb, begging for the pain to leave. Making your heart it’s home, plaguing your brain with an incurable disease, and wilting your body like a dying flower. My life has been complicated, the human experience made sure of that. But how does a sweet little girl who smiles all day long without a care in the world turn into a depressed teenager who has no desire to live any longer? School, family, friends, boys, girls, an unrelenting barrage of thoughts, and a condition commonly referred to as being a teenage girl.
Seventh grade was like a bad acid trip – to be fair, all of middle school was. That fall I felt strange, sadder than usual. I didn’t know what was happening – why was I feeling like this? Was all the built-up trauma finally getting to me? I experienced these feelings of confusion for months, and eventually, it began to get worse. Thoughts of suicide clouded my mind. Seeking stability, I attached myself to someone quite older than me. I was scared, I was alone, I was a child with no help.
After finally seeking help a year into my depression, I was appointed to the two school counselors (yes, two. I saw both, I am that broken). I guess listening to Taylor Swift on repeat when you’re heartbroken and depressed is not free therapy. One day I got called in during my math class. I accidentally slipped that I wanted to jump off of the golden gate bridge and/or overdose on painkillers. Biggest oops of my life – or was it? The second school counselor said that the first one would be in contact with me soon. Whatever, right? I went to my next period, US History, and had a test. As soon as I finished it, my teacher told me I had to go down to see the first counselor. I was gently informed that I had to call my parents and tell them. I was like, “What? no?” They did not understand that my parents would kill me. Finally, we decided to call my dad, and this awful hell-send of a counselor started the conversation with, “Sir, your daughter has had thoughts of suicide. When can you come in to talk about this?” I burst into tears, thinking about my dad and my mom, and honestly how disappointed they would be with me. But I was also so frustrated with how the counselor chose to tell my dad (not the best way, if you ask me). Later that day, I was immensely stressed, my eyes puffy from crying. My parents had to come in to talk about it. My mom was crying, my dad was upset, my mom hid the pills and after that week my parents forgot about it and moved on as nothing happened. My mother still refuses to believe that I have depression-like Mom, I was trying to kill myself, what more proof do you need?
Looking back, it was a cry for help. I was dying. Telling the counselors was scary and an accident but in the grand scheme of things it was one of my better ideas. I had so much anguish, and within that time, a lot happened. Two years is a lot. I finally broke down and got help; I’m in therapy now, and on medication. I’m not much better, but I’m trying my best. To this day, after three years with my depression, life is not easy. My parents still don’t acknowledge my pain, like most immigrant parents; but I still try, I really do, to be happy in front of them. Depression comes in a variety of forms, but mine came from childhood trauma that just led to more trauma because I have the inability to let go.
Your feelings and thoughts should be validated, your story should be heard and seen. If you need help, seek it. Seeking help is incredibly hard and scary, but at the end of the day, it will help you get better. The judgment and fear that you might face from friends or family can be intimidating, but it’s the first step to getting better. I believe in you. Suicide is never the option, we want you here in our lives, you matter.