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The Only Way Out Is Through

Written by Publications Coordinator, Nicole Frank

Getting through a depressive episode takes strength. It takes grit. It takes hope to overcome. It takes being vulnerable and relying on your support systems. I’m here to tell you that you will make it to the other side. On this other side, you will know yourself and your worth like no other. You will learn that it’s okay to reach out for help when you need it. You will be stronger than ever before. Because if you can make it through depression, you can make it through anything.

During the first semester of my second year, I began to lose myself to depression. Suddenly, my concentration, memory, and motivation were disappearing. I didn’t have the capacity to do virtually anything and felt my sense of self slipping away. I was tired; I spent more time asleep than awake. Above all, I was confused. Why did the things that usually brought me joy lack any sort of pleasure? Why couldn’t I bring myself to get up out of bed? What was happening to me? There was a sort of denial I had, convincing myself it must be a physical health issue. I began to address it as one as well, feeling as though as tough as it was to tell people I was physically ill, it was better than acknowledging that I was depressed.

When my depression reached a point where I couldn’t be at school anymore, I came home to prioritize my mental health. I feared how bad it had got. I felt like a failure. I felt like I would never be able to come back. I felt like I should have been able to “tough it out.” Looking back on my decision, I couldn’t be more thankful I took the time I needed to get better. Time isn’t all that’s needed, though. Getting through depression takes leaning on your friends and family like never before. It takes countless attempts to try different medications to find the right fit for you. It takes radically accepting the point you're at and fighting back against it even when you’ve got no fight left.

During my depression, I found it valuable to speak with others who have also been through it. Talking with friends and family who have experienced depression made me feel less alone and helped soften my own stigma around it. Although everyone’s experience with mental health is different, this connection made all the difference. When you reach the other side of a depressive episode, you come to realize the silver lining of it all. You have a greater understanding of mental illness and can become more empathetic to those who have struggled as well. You know your limits and when to give yourself a break.

I would be lying to say I don’t still feel shame for what happened. I still get nervous opening up to people about my depression, wondering if they will think I’m weak. I still carry my own stigma around mental health, as do we all. This stigma stops us from getting the help we need. If you are struggling with your mental health, I urge you to reach out and seek help. I promise you will be surprised how much support there truly is around you. Even though it doesn’t feel like it now, you must trust that it will get better.

You are not alone. If you see me around Goodes or need someone to talk to, I’m always here.

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