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When I Realized Hiding My Depression Was Not a Sign of Strength

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When I began my first semester of college, it didn’t take me long to realize something was off. Activities that should have been fun felt more like work. Sleep was hopelessly elusive. I couldn’t shake the emptiness that came to characterize my life. I knew it wasn’t normal, but I did everything in my power not to let it show. I swallowed my emotions and tried to suppress what I was feeling.

So when friends from home called to check in, I would tell them I was doing fine. When friends from school wanted to hang out, I would put on a smile and push through. Yet, when my roommate was in class, I would lie in bed and cry like I never had before. The hopelessness would overwhelm me and I would agonize over the fact that I truly felt things could never get better.

Then, when I knew she was coming back, I would get some tissues, dry my eyes and pretend like none of it was real. I would plaster on a smile and tuck my real emotions away. I had this idea if I let people know about my depression, it would be admitting I was weak. I thought I was being strong by keeping my emotions and the burden of my situation to myself.

I could not have been more wrong. Depression was absolutely too big for me to handle on my own. It was only when I began to be honest with the people around me that healing began to occur. They gave me the support I needed to begin counseling and to start taking medication. Slowly but surely, I began to have better days. It did not happen overnight. I know someday I might have to deal with it all over again, but now I know hiding my emotions does not lead to healing.

These days, I am proud of the fact that I am an emotional person. It means I have a big heart with the capacity to love and care deeply about other people. Even when my emotions are negative and overwhelming, I have learned I need to trust those who love me will be able to handle them all. They will not label me as weak, but rather, they will see that showing emotion is actually a sign of my strength.

Originally published: July 30, 2016
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