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When Depression Causes You to Disappear

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In November of junior year, I disappeared. That is, I disappeared from the bustling hallways and crowded classrooms of high school. In truth, the disappearing had begun long before then, when my depression caused me to pull inward, to retreat inside of myself, leaving nothing but a shell of a person behind. My hope, passion, and will to live had disappeared, but it wasn’t until that November of junior year that my body disappeared as well. The people filling up those bustling hallways and crowded classrooms might not have noticed that, for weeks, they had been talking to an empty shell instead of a person. So they might not have understood when that shell disappeared as well. They might have wondered where it went — where I went.

I wondered, as well. I wondered and wondered and wondered where I had gone. I wondered how I could exist as a shell of a person. How was I functioning, breathing, living? I was not living. I was existing — existing in the form of pulsing veins and a beating heart — but I was not living. The part of me that was alive had disappeared long ago.

I watched from afar. I watched as I deteriorated, as I faded and finally, as I disappeared and left nothing but a shell behind. I watched as depression charged in and stole the light in my eyes. I watched my body function without anything inside to give it life. I knew I was gone, but I didn’t know where I had gone. I needed to find myself. So I let my body disappear as well. That empty shell went to a place where it could learn to be a person again — where I could learn to be a person again.

I spent a month at a hospital in treatment for depression. I took medications, I went to therapy and I made friends with people who also knew what it’s like to be a shell of a person. I learned coping skills, I learned mindfulness, I learned how to get better.

And I began to reappear.

First, I reappeared from inside my shell. I poked my face into the world and my brown eyes had life and sparkle once again.

Next, I reappeared into the real world. I left the hospital and emerged once again in the bustling hallways and crowded classrooms of high school. And this time, I was a person, not an empty shell.

Finally, I reappeared in a new place — at the beginning of a rocky road called recovery. Recovery isn’t easy. It isn’t simple. It isn’t straightforward. It isn’t perfect. But I was ready.

I still have a shell. It is cracked in places and it isn’t always pretty. I still go into it sometimes, but now I know how to get out. Now I know how to make sure I don’t disappear.

To the person who still feels like an empty shell of a person: please don’t give up. You might feel like you are disappearing and that every ounce of hope and strength you have left is disappearing with you — I know what that’s like, and I know that it hurts — but please remember that it is always possible to reappear. Always. You won’t stay a shell of a person forever. You won’t disappear forever. So please don’t give up.

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

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

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Thinkstock photo via dogbitedog69

Originally published: August 28, 2017
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