2017 has been one of the most wonderful but the hardest year of my life. Not only was it my first time away from home but I was thrust into the whirlwind of on-campus living; navigating new relationships, crazy alcohol-fueled adventures, adult chores and study. But I was also suffering from depression.
It wasn’t really the debilitating kind, just something that was always lingering in the background. It frustrated me because I didn’t feel like my normal self; I would sleep in too long, have nightmares or spend all day watching Netflix, and it just didn’t feel right. I also found it really difficult to understand or explain why I’d be feeling sad for no reason or lonely when there were so many people around.
Eventually I recognised that I needed help and saw health professionals including a GP and psychologist. However, I still didn’t have the support I needed. I was just ticking boxes in my head, like “Yes, I’ve taken care of myself today”. Now, don’t get me wrong, these professionals are incredibly important and I would recommend them to anyone who is struggling. But what I was missing was the support of the family and friends closest to me. I was stubbornly determined to go it alone and still in denial that I was depressed. I guess I didn’t want my closest friends and family to see me that way. In my mind, depression made me weak and part of me thought I should just ‘get over it’ and ‘be happy’.
This brings me to the most important thing that my experience taught me: Depression does not make you weak. In fact, admitting that you are depressed and seeking support actually makes you incredibly strong. It makes you believe that you are suffering from an illness that can be overcome and that you are worthy of the help. And that when you do get through it, you will be kinder, wiser and more resilient person.
If I was to give one piece of advice to anyone who are struggling with depression it would be to lean on your loved ones and seek professional help when you are ready. Hopefully, like me, your journey will teach you a lot about the world, yourself and how many people care about you.
Bridget Fredericks, University of Newcastle, MD JMP, Year 1 (2017)