How History Videos Helped Me Through Depression
My passion for history has been central to my identity for several years. I love to imagine how my life would have been during the various time periods and draw connection between historical and current issues. But what I didn’t realize all those years was that I am living with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder.
It was early in my 18th year that a veil of life-altering depression fell over me. It began with numbness and difficulty speaking. I went to class and could barely sit up, climb the school stairs, or make out what my teachers were saying. When I tried to read, the words were muddled.
Then I became suicidal, though I did not act on my plans. I lacked the capacity to comprehend my family’s pain at the prospect of my choice. My parents made me an appointment with a psychiatrist, and during the meeting, he told us the safest decision would be to have me admitted. The next morning, I woke up in the adolescent unit of a psychiatric hospital.
In all honesty, I was not in the right frame of mind to take treatment seriously. I followed the mantra that group therapy was a joke and skills training was not for me. Since many of the other patients were equally subdued due to their illnesses, I failed to connect with any of them.
Ironically, I found respite in attending school in the hospital. Yes, I was too unwell to do serious academic work, but to my relief, the assignments and activities were simplified due to the nature of the conditions that brought patients there. One of our lessons happened to be history.
The week I was there, we were talking about the dark ages. The teacher showed us a YouTube musical parody about the Black Death to Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl.” As we sang along to the song, I realized I identified with the event. I was in a dark age, experiencing a plague of the mind. My brain and innards felt rotted, but the moment gave me hope that they could be revived.
I looked up the YouTube channel as soon as I returned home. But my challenges remained. I had to drop a significant portion of my course load due to my impaired cognition and attend an intensive outpatient program in the afternoons. I was still feeling disconnected from the world. But when I finally came home in the evenings, I had the history videos to watch.
Depression had led me to forget about my love for history. I’d come to believe I would have to resign to life without it. I credit these videos for providing a distraction from the stress of treatment and for regrowing my passions. Although there have been setbacks and I’ve had to be reevaluated diagnostically, my new historical friends from the videos have been with me.
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