What I Hid by Drinking Like a ‘Normal College Kid'
I’ve been diagnosed with depression for about eight years now. In high school it was your typical, textbook, mild depression. I was put on some medicine and got back to my life. It wasn’t until one of my lowest points when I realized my depression had gotten worse. But it took falling again — this time deeper into the hole — to really open my eyes to change. I fell hard before I realized how much I needed help.
When I went to college, I started partying and going out with my roommates, just like a normal college kid would. I started out great, going to every class and loving the independence. But soon I started skipping classes so I could sleep, going out on weekends and isolating myself on weekdays. Alcohol was my motivation to get through the week. I started getting bad grades and questioned if college was even for me.
After barely getting through that first year of college, I came home for summer break. I was excited to see my old high school friends and have a care-free summer. My friends and I started hanging out by a river, drinking alcohol to loosen up. We would go out during the day and come home when it got dark. I knew deep down all that drinking wasn’t good for me, especially on the water, but it felt good to have fun. I numbed the hangover with more alcohol. One week I barely ate anything and just consumed beer, calling it my “beer diet.” At the end of that week my parents noticed something was wrong. I had lost my phone and keys in the muddy water of the river, so they had to come get me. I hated them that night. Furious, I yelled and slammed doors. But the next morning when I woke up — sober — every feeling I’d been suppressing with alcohol emerged. I cried for days, and after various phone calls finally agreed to get help from a different doctor.
But even then, after it all blew over, I chalked it up to being a “normal college kid.” I just wanted to have fun and binged a little too much on alcohol. No big deal, right? Wrong.
Fast forward to three years later. After family issues, a car accident, a death in the family and a bad break up, I found myself living in a house by myself. With my newfound independence I could do whatever I wanted. I could eat whenever, do my laundry whenever and drink wine by myself whenever! I began suppressing my feelings with alcohol again. A couple glasses a night turned into wanting to get wasted on a weekday. I hated the feeling of being sober and alone. I was drinking with a friend one night when we decided to go down by the river, that popular hangout. I remember sitting in the car, looking at the water and wondering what it would be like to fall in and never come back up. I was so at peace with this idea, and that scared me. But who could I tell?
I knew drinking was a trigger for me, but I was convinced I could handle it. I knew I needed help, but just didn’t have time. I would just stop drinking, I told myself. A few months later I cut down to drinking about once every two weeks or so. But I couldn’t stop after just a few and usually got pretty intoxicated. I came home one night, pretty drunk, and sat on my kitchen floor with a knife. This was my lowest moment. I called one of my friends to come over and help me. I sat on that floor and cried every ounce of tear I had in me. When he came I didn’t stop. I told him everything I was feeling. Without a word he hugged me and didn’t judge. I knew at that point I needed help. A few weeks later I saw the therapist who I’m currently working with weekly. I’ve realized alcohol is a trigger for my major depressive episodes, and I’m working on cutting back. I’m also more consistent with my medication, which has made a world of a difference.
Sometimes it takes the lowest moment in our life to evoke change, and sometimes it even takes more than one low moment. But we should never feel ashamed for these lows, or feel like no one cares. It takes one phone call or message to talk to someone who does. If you’re suffering, please let someone know. I can promise you the ones who judge you aren’t important, and the ones who don’t are the only people you need to get through.
If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.