This is one of the hardest things that I have written because in this moment, I am feeling very vulnerable. The subject that I am about to speak on is hard for me to talk about, because this very thing is something that I rarely talk about.
My name is B.A. Scott, and I suffer from depression. I was recently officially tested and diagnosed, but it is something that I have know for quite some time.
Many people don’t understand the nuances of depression and anxiety, they give it a face. Many of us don’t truly know the definitions associated with depression. So I will drop a couple of vocabulary words for as we continue this conversation.
- Depression-a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.
- Anxiety-an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)- a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year.
Ok, let’s talk.
The first time that I had an episode I was 17. I will never forget it, because I was in the midst of my senior year in high school. I was very active at that time, but something came over me that year. I would find myself in a series of highs and lows, and then around Thanksgiving break that year, I was in an odd funk. Nothing made sense, and it made me feel weird to talk about. I never mentioned it to anyone around me, and I never sought out help, because I wasn’t “crazy”. In hindsight, I should’ve gotten help, but I didn’t.
I would struggle with it for years after, but I would try and push through it. I realized that if I kept myself busy enough, then it would hide itself amongst the hustle and bustle of the years. That was until her…
I found myself in a relationship, and it was a good one. She was good to me. She made me laugh, and we could talk about stuff. Except for this. I remember the first of a couple Christmas’ that I spent with her and her family. Looking back, I was always off. It seemed as if I wasn’t having a good time, and I was just anti-social, but really it wasn’t. I was depressed. Each time someone would ask me what was wrong, I would always say “nothing”, and I meant it. I couldn’t articulate how I was really feeling. I didn’t know how. I didn’t trust these people who were still new to me, and so I would suffer in silence. It was tough to be honest.
Everybody thought I was upset because we broke up. Actually, that was the last thing on my mind. I knew what time of year it was, and I remember it happening. This was the first year that I had an emotional response to it. I remember on a Tuesday in December, being at my house, and crying. No reason, I woke up in tears. Luckily for me, no one was around to hear my sobs. I remember begging God to make it all go away, and nothing happening. I was angry at God. I was angry at myself. Before this moment, I had always associated tears with weakness, but something changed in me. I saw this outburst as something that I could grow from. I knew that I needed serious help. I still didn’t. I am stubborn. I know.
2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 have all been the same. Every year, each November, I shell away to myself. I am still functional, and it doesn’t affect my work, or academic life. It’s just in moments, particularly when I am alone, I find myself in a darker place. Recently, it has become that even when I around groups of people, I get the same feelings. I have learned and mastered how to put on a face, and how to act in a way as to not give off that I am hurting. It’s just my thing.
I didn’t write this post for pity. In fact, I only wrote it to provide perspective. There are people all around who deal with depression, and it’s not nearly as taboo as it seems. The thing about it though, is that we as a whole society need to learn how to communicate better with those around us who have things that they don’t like to talk about. So here is a couple of things I would suggest.
1. Stop asking “are you ok?”, and ask more detailed discovery questions.
2. Don’t assume.
3. Don’t make it about you.
4. Learn how to stop, and come back to that subject of conversation later.
5. Shut up sometimes.
6. Be genuine.
7. Be honest.
8. Don’t push.
Depression is a real thing. Whether it is for a couple of months, or a lifetime, depression is real. Don’t overthink it, or over-spiritualize it, just deal with it. Go to counseling, talk to someone, get real help. That’s what I am trying, and I am hoping how to better deal with it. I don’t want to feel like this all the time, or at all. I want to get better. Each day, hopefully.