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To the High School Graduate With Depression: You Have the Power

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Congratulations! You’ve made it through one of life’s most difficult and trying times: high school. You’ve survived four years of never-ending education, awkward social interactions and nauseating school events.

But what will you do now?

That’s the question everyone has been asking you since graduation, and you always answer:

I’m not sure.

You’re not sure, and that’s OK. I know you are anxious about what your future holds, but I want you to know that some anxiety is normal. What isn’t normal, healthy or fair to you is your depression.

I know you’ve been down for awhile now, feeling lonely, worthless and powerless. You’ve been down, so you’ve isolated yourself from your friends. You think they won’t understand how you’re feeling, and you’re afraid to try and explain it to them. You figure it’s better to be alone than to be judged. I’m here to tell you that having depression is nothing to be ashamed of, that I do understand and that you are not alone.

You haven’t told your parents about what you’ve been experiencing because you think they will be like your friends and not get it. But you won’t know their reaction unless you tell them, and you need to tell them. They will be able to help you get into your doctor and offer you support, and those are two things you really need right now.

You’re worried about how your depression will affect your future. Will it keep you from going to school or work? Will it make it difficult just to live? I wish I could answer those questions for you. What I do know is if you aren’t honest with the people around you, you won’t be able to get the help you need. I don’t want your depression determining your future, so please take the appropriate steps to get help with your depression so you can gain control of your future.

Let’s talk about your future. Let’s talk about opportunity. You have the chance to go out into the world and begin your adult life in any way you choose. That is an incredible power to have. You have the power to go and do whatever you want now that you’ve graduated. You have the power to celebrate your success as a high school graduate, and you have the power to channel that success into preparing for your future. You have the power over your future; your depression does not.

Your future is bright even though you feel like you’re in the dark. You have the power, even though it feels hard to hold onto. The challenges you faced as a high school student have prepared you for this challenge of overcoming your depression, and just like the challenges of high school, you will overcome this, too. You are a seasoned high school graduate with strength you don’t realize you have and power you’re not yet sure how to use.

You have the power to control your depression and not let it impede on your success. But to strengthen that power, you’re going to need some help. So open up to your friends, parents and doctor and do so without shame. Do this, and use your power to squander your depression and take control of your future.

Originally published: July 15, 2016
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