Dear Freshman Me, You Have Depression


1. Yes, you do have major depression.

2. No, you are not the only one.

3. When you want to try swallowing your Cymbalta without water, don’t. You will start gagging at the sight of the bottle and spend a year taking your medicine only two or three times a week. This will not help. If you feel you must do this, then tell your doctor right away you need to change medications.

4. No, really, tell her. Insist. Being perceived as rude is much better than spending a year in constant withdrawal.

5. When you get pneumonia, you will want to keep going to class because you deeply believe your self-worth depends on your academics. Don’t. You will end up in the emergency room.

6. When you meet C. in French class and he tells you about disability services, check it out before grad school.

7. Yes, you do have major depression. No, this does not mean you will never have friends.

8. Yes, you do have major depression. No, this does not mean you can’t graduate summa cum laude with honors.

9. When you can hardly motivate yourself to go across campus to the dining hall or when you feel so apathetic you start going full days without a meal, stash Pop-Tarts in your room. Make a waffle. Buy peanut butter cups. Eating “unhealthy” is far better than not eating at all.

10. When you have panic attacks in class, leave. When you cry in class, leave. When you get scared of type-A male classmates holding forceful discussions, leave. Find a sanctuary. Find a friend.

11. You are brave. Your survival is brave.

12. When T. tells you your best looks different every day, believe her. Holding yourself to inhuman standards of performance, to some contrived idea of what recovery looks like, is neither wise nor kind.

13. Making things harder for yourself is not a virtue. You don’t have to take the path of most resistance.

14. When the first person you tell about your self-harm responds that at least it doesn’t look like N.’s, remember, your struggle doesn’t have to be obvious to be important.

15. Yes, you do have major depression. You may have some other conditions too.

16. Yes, you deserve to take care of yourself.

17. Yes, you deserve to be happy.

18. When you find a dying bamboo plant abandoned by the dorm trash can in a rainstorm, save it. It will recover.

19. So will you.

A bamboo plant sitting on a window sill

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you struggle with self-harm and you need support right now, call the crisis hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741. For a list of ways to cope with self-harm urges, click here.

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