A couple years ago I found myself in an extremely dark place at the college of my dreams. During my fourth, and final, semester at Berklee College of Music everything moved in slow motion. My winter break, right before the fourth semester began, was spent saying my final goodbyes to my Grandpa. Once I returned back to Boston I couldn’t shake the constant feeling of sadness. I kept trying to think of what it could be. Grief? Was it that time of the month? Was it the sophomore slump? But, along with trying to come to terms with that fact that I’d never see my Grandpa again, something else was off. After talking to one of Berklee’s counselors multiple times, my mom booked me an appointment with a local Psychiatrist, in the Boston area. By the end of the appointment I was diagnosed with depression and later on anxiety.
Depression and anxiety are some of the most debilitating diseases out there, I believe. I found myself failing a majority of my classes because I wasn’t mentally “all there,” and most days I wouldn’t even show up to class. I started drinking during the day and was eating horribly. I wasn’t taking care of myself, whatsoever! And slowly, one by one, my teachers started emailing me. First to see if I was doing alright but then to warn me of my grade and to recommend that I drop the class all together and just re-take it the following semester. But the thing was, it was physically impossible for me to get up and leave my apartment. When trying to explain this to my dad, someone who’s never dealt with depression or anxiety in his life, asked if a friend could just walk me to class. If only it were that easy, I really wish it were. He couldn’t seem to comprehend that the very thought of even getting dressed, brushing my teeth or walking to class gave me so much anxiety that I just wouldn’t go. It was easier.
I felt completely and utterly alone. I lost a lot of friendships because I couldn’t communicate with others what I was going through. Hell, I couldn’t even explain it to myself, let alone friends. And even though I am one of the lucky ones who has come out on the other side of it, believe me when I say, I have my days, weeks and sometimes months. It can feel impossible to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But, during those times I have to try to remind myself that this feeling is only temporary and that things really do get better with time, but not on their own.
“Depression and anxiety are a part of me, but they do not define me.”
On April 19th, 2016 I left Boston and headed back down to Maryland to take care of myself. It was time for me to leave the city that I changed in. Once I got home I dedicated all my time to my physical and, most of all, mental health. I started eating much healthier, going to cycling classes multiple times a week and even took up yoga. I learned to quiet my thoughts, even if it was only for sixty minutes once or twice a week. I took anything I could get. But, I worked on it. All while that, I religiously saw my psychiatrist, whom I work with to this day. Nothing happened overnight and I’m still, two and a half years later, not where I want to be. But, this is a journey not a miracle.
Recently, I’ve learned to surround myself with the people I love most, because in those dark moments it’s extremely difficult to focus on the good. To this day I still tend to drown in my own thoughts. I believe we all do. We get inside of our own heads and think that we’re the absolute only ones who could possibly be feeling that way. But we are not. And I know that for fact.
It’s a damn-long journey, but I’m willing to stick with it for myself. Depression and anxiety are a part of me, but they do not define me.