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When one of my best friends told me in 2018 that she was depressed, I did not exactly understand what she was going through.
We were in different places and I had no experience of such a situation. But when I faced something similar in April 2019, I finally understood.
See, feeling depressed isn’t a sudden disease, like catching a flu. It’s an ongoing problem; a chronic illness. Many factors can trigger it; for me, it was my environment and the people in my life.
I was a medical student when I had my first depressive episode
I started university in July 2018. At the time, the new surroundings were difficult to comprehend, but like everything else I faced, I adapted. I moved around quite a bit as a kid, so being in a new environment wasn’t a big deal for me. This was just another challenge, or so I thought.
The trigger for a full-blown depressive episode happened in April 2019. My very close friends whom I made in university stopped talking to me. As it turns out, it was over a very small misunderstanding.
You see, I have OCD when it comes to my assignments and tasks. So at that particular semester, with my workload that was quite high, I barely had time to talk to them to keep up with gossip or petty chats.
A regular day at uni.
Rather than give me space or try to be helpful and understanding, they avoided me, leaving me hanging without any explanation whatsoever.
They gossiped about me behind my back. They said I was rude to them, I didn’t care about them, or help them when they needed me.
When I heard about this, it shattered my heart into pieces. Till today, I could never explain that tight feeling in my chest.
These were the same two people who had thrown me a surprise birthday party not too long ago. Why would they do this?
It seemed like something small, but the feeling was unbearable. I couldn’t focus in class, I lost my appetite and had no passion to do absolutely anything.
At night, I wrestled with insomnia, often crying myself to sleep, and I would get nightmares.
I tried to overcome it on my own
I never told my family about what I was going through. Whenever I went back home during the weekends, I would try acting like nothing was wrong.
My parents weren’t the sort who would downplay or pretend nothing was wrong — but I had two OKU twin sisters who needed round-the-clock care, and I didn’t want to add to their burden.
My other friends tried to be there for me. I’d tell them about my problems helped in the moment, but I knew if I did not do anything about it, I would be stuck in that bubble of despair forever.
My friends who stuck with me through my darkest times.
At some point, I felt that I was troubling my friends unnecessarily. So, I tried doing different things.
I prayed a lot because it was comforting, as I could talk to God who was available 24/7. My favourite verse from the Bible is from the Book of Ecclesiastes: “He has made everything beautiful in its time.”
As a medical science student, I tried healthy alternatives. I would exercise, get involved in various activities, listen to soothing music, eat good food, and spend some me-time. Slowly, I started feeling better.
But I performed very badly that semester — my CGPA had dropped to below 3.00. I was devastated.
With no other choice, I had to tell my parents what I had gone through. I was worried they wouldn’t understand, that I was making excuses for myself.
My parents understood and supported me
Surprisingly, they were supportive. They even allowed me to do whatever it took to help me feel better.
I knew then that I was not alone in this.
I have read how people who were depressed often kept to themselves, and I tried not to do that.
I tried to be brave, even when I cried myself to sleep. My friends were always there for me even when I was very annoying.
“If someone wants you in their life, they will do anything and everything to keep you in it.” — Najwa Zebian
If they don’t want you in their life, nothing you do will change their mind. Do not beg anyone to want you.
This was what motivated me to be the best. Thus, never let negative people dictate how you live.
Till today, it is difficult to bring up my CGPA due to that one incident.
But I focused on working hard and pushing myself towards a better future for myself and my loved ones.
One year later, I was able to reach my goal of achieving a Dean’s List award, and my CGPA has recovered since then.
Not all pain is physical and not all wounds are visible
If you are not afraid of letting your friend or family know that you are not well, for example, a fever, why be afraid to let them know about something unseen?
We should end the stigma of mental illnesses as something trivial. It affects so much of our daily lives that everything just changes drastically.
For more stories like this, read: I Cut Off My Toxic Girl Friends & Here’s Why I Am Happier Now and 4 Signs You’re in a Toxic Friendship (And Why You Need to Leave)
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