This year has been a hard year.
Sometimes it feels like one shitty thing after another.
Sometimes I go whole days without smiling. I feel empty inside, and it’s hard to get out of bed in the morning. Once I’m up, I usually only last till mid-day before I’m back in my room, lying in fetal position.
Other times not everything sucks. Sometimes the gym wakes me up again, and the world looks like it’s in colour. Sometimes Taekwon Do makes me smile, and it feels good to interact with other people.
But then, inevitably, I’ll come up against something that drags me down again, and it will take anything from a few days, to a whole week before I feel like smiling again.
That’s what my year has been like. A year of feeling ‘alright’ interspread with deep troughs of unhappiness, and vague, all encompassing feelings of anxiety..
Depression is a scary word.
It’s even scarier when you finally realise, that maybe it’s less of a ‘mood’ and more of a diagnosis.
When you stop thinking of depression as a mood that you sometimes have, and start thinking of it in medical terms, it gets ugly.
No one wants that description attached to them. It’s dark, and just vague enough to be scary.
We all know what mental illness looks like, too. It’s the mad man, rocking on a park bench. It’s the criminal who killed people for the fun of it. It’s the woman who claws at her own face.
These images are why I’ve fought this for so long. Why I haven’t asked for help. If I ask for help, I admit that I might be one of them. I don’t want to be one of them.
It doesn’t seem to matter how many women have spoken about depression before me, my mind keeps screeching to a halt at my old perceptions, and stereotypes.
I finally realised last week – after a week and a half of paralyzing emptiness, and unwarranted panic that I have a problem. I’m sick of the rock on my chest that makes it hard to breath. I’m sick of the lethargy weighing my limbs down, making it hard for me to drag myself out of bed. I’m sick of the emptiness in my head, and belly.
I’ve dealt with this before on my own. I can usually pull myself out of it by taking up a new hobby, or exercising more. Making more time to hang out with friends. None of those options are working for me anymore.
So this week I called the university health service. I made an appointment with my doctor, hoping for some miracle cure. I imagine showing up on Thursday, and having the doctor take my temperature. She frowns at the thermometer, and says “Yes. Just as we thought. You’re running cold. Definitely depression.”
Then she writes me a prescription, and everything is ok again.
I’m aware that this scenario isn’t even close to what is about to happen. I still have high hopes, though.
After I hung up the phone to the Uni Docs, I called the Uni Counseling Center. The receptionist – upon ascertaining that I’m not considering suicide, or self harm – offered me an initial appointment in three and a half weeks.
There was absolutely nothing sooner unless I call tomorrow morning, at 8.30am, and they still have a couple of last-minute spots open for that day. They give them out – like prizes – to the first three students desperate enough to call.
I wanted to yell at her. Instead I stared at the phone in numb shock.
I need help now. I already feel like I’m over my head, in rough water. I’ve finally managed to drag my arms up enough to wave at the lifeguards, and ask for help, and they’re telling me they’ll get right to me, in 24 days.
There must be a heck of a lot of other students waving out there, too.