Written by QCMHA Co-Chair Avina Patel
No one really talks about depression. I know it’s a difficult topic, and there are a million things to say. However, I’m not here to give you advice or tips, rather to normalize. Before experiencing it myself, I couldn’t begin to imagine what it would feel like. On the other end of things, I now have troubling remembering life without.
Depression manifests itself in everyone differently, so here’s an attempt to describing mine.
Imagine that you love swimming. It is your passion, and you swim in the ocean every day. You’re out for a swim but suddenly something tugs on your leg, making it hard to keep your head above the water. Like a weight attached to your ankle, you’re grasping for air, using all your energy to catch a breath. Eventually the tugging stops. You try to recover, tread water and float to let your body rest. After your recovery, the same feeling returns. You are being pulled underwater. You grasp for air and try to keep your head above the harsh waves until the tugging stops. Again, you recover but the feeling returns shortly after. This happens over and over. You wonder if it’ll ever stop, but soon enough, you start to expect its arrival. Eventually, you stop enjoying the moments of relief when you simply float in the water out of the fear that something will pull your head under again. During this time, you can’t enjoy or improve your swimming. You feel exhausted, consumed and alone, as there is no shore in sight.
Whether you resonated with this analogy, understood, or are still trying to learn what it might mean, I think there is a uniqueness to each perspective. The truth is, we often have no clue what others around us have experienced or are going through. Something I failed to do before experiencing it myself was learning about types of mental illness and what it can look like in others. Now, I believe it’s helped me a lot in the way I see people and interact with them. This practice of understanding and empathy has also become one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned during university.
Mental health is something I will be sensitive to for the rest of my life and its okay if you feel this way too. It’s true that depression can exhaust you to the core and chip away at your identity. The worst feeling is losing yourself, so here’s to putting your oxygen mask on first.
Above all, I want this post to be a reminder that you’re not alone. If you happen to see me in the hallways or need someone to talk to, let me be a friendly face. As always, stay well.