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When Depression and Academic Pressure Collide

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I’ve never understood how I’m supposed to achieve good grades when I can’t even get up in the morning. My depression kept me at home today. I didn’t have the strength to even get out of bed.

I thought about how miserable my life was, and I decided there was no point in getting up today. I emailed my therapist and told her I wanted to start taking antidepressant pills. How am I supposed to study and make my parents proud by getting accepted into an Ivy League or top university if I can’t even get out of bed in the morning?

The school I go is one of the top 100 schools in the nation. All anyone ever does is talk about college and how they’re using sports and clubs to get ahead. Everyone’s trying to become an officer of a club or caption of a sport.

There’s also the overbearing parents who get mad when your grades aren’t as good as everyone else’s, or when you can’t work hard enough to become an officer of a club. The thing is, I want all of the things they want for me. I want to be an officer, and I want to be track captain of my school. I want to be coming home with a 4.0 to show my parents and make them proud.

It’s not like I’m not smart enough to do these things either. It’s that I have zero motivation to get through my day. I want to get through the next couple years of my life. College is the escape I’ve always seen for my life. College is what I look at as my opportunity to leave the tortures of high school, and once I finally get there, I can be happy.

What if I don’t get there? I can’t focus in class because I’m wallowing in sadness, and it’s really taking a toll on my grades. I had a 3.3 GPA freshman year and pretty much got shamed for being an “imbecile.” I was told I was a completely worthless, unintelligent person, and I believed it.

So I switched high schools this year, to not as “high-performing school,” but still pretty up there. Many kids have the same “if you don’t go to a University of California (UC) straight out of 12th grade you’re a failure” kind of attitude, which puts on a lot of pressure to work hard and get there. I want a UC school just as much as anybody else here, but I know if I keep on heading down this road of sadness, I won’t be able to.

I think that’s where a lot of kids at high-performing high schools feel trapped. All I’ve been taught my whole 16 years of life is if I don’t get into the school of my dreams, my existence is irrelevant. Still to this day, knowing that piece of information makes me want to do great because I know I’m smart.

However, I also know I won’t be able to get there straight out of 12th grade. I’m not in the right state of mind to be like everyone else and to achieve the same goals, regardless of whether I’m just as smart or not. That leads me to a bigger spiral of depression. I’m too depressed to work, but I want success for my life. If I don’t get there, then I’ll spiral even deeper into depression. It’s hard, and I think the daily struggle of being a high school student with depression is too much.

All in all, maybe that’s what keeps me going. The ambition and the motivation I have to be better, to achieve those dreams for me and my parents. Even if I don’t achieve my goals as fast as everyone else because of my depression, at least I get to reach there at some point. Plus, at the end of the day, my battle makes me much stronger. So to all of the high schoolers with depression, you can still do just as much as a fellow student who didn’t have to deal with the adversity you do. Push through, each day at a time.

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Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: December 21, 2016
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