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What Will College Be Like With Depression?

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My eyes open and I take in the darkness of my bedroom. The incessant beeping of my alarm clock has done its trick again. The body aches aren’t as bad this morning, and I wonder if I can get through the day with minimal pain. I push the covers off my arms. The cold air causes goosebumps to surface. My movements wake up the tiny animals scattered throughout my bed. They creep up to see me. I give them each kisses and a quick ear massage. They always seem to make me a few minutes late.

My morning routine has become a simple one so I can stay in bed as long as possible. I make my way out to my car. Lately the February mornings have caused frost and dew to accumulate on my windshield. While I wait for it to clear, I sit and think about what my day will be like.

The drive to school is different every day, but I always end up thinking about the same things.

I often find myself worrying things will turn out like they did in high school. You know that phrase, “History repeats itself”? I think it can ring true in certain situations, but in my case I don’t want it to be true. I don’t want to be the same person I was a few years ago. I want to be the girl who has learned coping skills through years of therapy. I want to be the girl who achieves great success in the future. I don’t want to be hindered by my past. I want to be the new and improved me. On the days when my depression creeps back in I wonder if I have changed at all. I think…

Will I fail?

Will I meet anyone who will be OK with my past?

Will people judge me?

I don’t want to end up back where I once was…

I had to finish my last semester of high school online. I couldn’t face going to my high school every day anymore. I couldn’t take the way my peers looked and acted around me. Not all illnesses are ones you can see on the outside. The stares I received from the faculty made me feel like I repulsed them. I have a mental illness, not bad BO.

College is different than anything I’ve experienced before. When I walked through the doors my first day I felt tremendously alone. In high school, they hold your hand every step of the way. If you are one step off where they want you to be it is corrected right away. In college, it’s on me. That’s a pretty scary thing to come to terms with.

I have never felt as alone as I did in high school. Those horrid feelings resurfaced again when I started college a few weeks ago. Needless to say, I don’t want to feel powerless like that again. I have realized people in college are not nearly as quick to judge as those I have encountered in the past. People generally seem to accept me as I am here, which is so different from where I was two years ago. It makes me want to come to school and be around my peers, whereas in high school I begged my mom every day to let me stay home. I was scared of being judged so much that I would cry myself to sleep and fake being sick so I could get one more day of peace, which, in reality wasn’t peaceful because I was worried about the next day. It was a continual tug of war I couldn’t handle anymore.

I’ve asked myself many times what has changed. Sure, the scenery has. If you put a person who hasn’t changed in a new place they may go back to their old ways. A new city does not magically change everything, a new person does. I have gone from seeing no beauty whatsoever in this world to seeing beauty in every small thing I encounter.

So, here I am lying in bed again this morning. I go through the motions every day, even on the hard ones because the stigma attached to mental health is not a good one and I need to change it. On the days where I struggle to get out of bed I think about the possibility of helping others who have been in the dark place I once experienced.

The frost was especially strong today. It took a little longer to clear than normal, but it did. Some days I have to work harder than normal and scrape it off with an ice scraper. Other days the defrost does the charm. Today, I am in “ice scrape” mode; things are just a little harder than normal. Some days I am in “defrost” mode. On my good days, there is no frost and I don’t need any mode at all.

While I was waiting for the frost to clear this morning, a realization hit me: history will not repeat for me. I have changed. I am different.

History will not repeat for me.

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Thinkstock photo by aceshot

Originally published: March 11, 2017
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