A wise man not long ago told me “No matter where you end up in life, keep writing. don’t let your job define what you love. Write, record, film, whatever, just do what you love and I’ll always support you.” A true writer will find an outlet for their thoughts, no matter how nonsensical they sound. Sometimes we’re grammatically and politically incorrect, sometimes people don’t agree with what we have to say, but 100 percent of the time our writing is filled with passion that no one can take away from us. I am a writer.
I am a writer because it’s my escape from who I am and what I’m dealing with. Like most people, I have two worlds. There’s my one world that I want everyone to know and love, but then there’s a world where the colors don’t necessarily bleed through in my writing, but I think it’s important that they should.
Hi, My name is Hillary, and I’ve been battling depression for 5 years.
It’s not an easy thing to say. The stigma with depression is a tricky one. On one side, you have the people who completely understand where you’re coming from, how you’re feeling, and what’s going on with you mentally. On another side, there are the people who will almost try to never understand, the ones who let ignorance rule and think depression is always synonymous with things like suicide, cutting, and attention seeking.
But then, there’s a small group of people who don’t understand it at all, we’ll call them the outliers, for lack of a better term. They don’t know what’s going on within themselves and would rather not discuss it.
“There are plenty of people who have it worse than me.”
“Who am I, the daughter of an established and prestigious doctor and a big business mother, to be sad about my life?”
I’ve bent my brain through it all and I’ve finally figured it out: it’s all apples and oranges to the problem.
This is something the outliers need to know. Other people’s misfortunes and our depression are mutually exclusive. Your internal battles are not something you can help without…well… help…if that makes any sense at all.
My battle is ongoing, and I’m choosing to share my story because I’m afraid of all the outliers that may be out there. If you ever felt alone, if you ever felt hopeless, useless, or disposable, I dedicate this to you.
Ironically, my story starts with my current battle as opposed to the beginning 5 years ago.
“If I jump out of that window, do you think it will kill me?” is something I’d ask myself every time I saw a window.
Sometimes I would lay in bed, look up at the ceiling and wonder “If this house fell on top of me, would anyone miss me? would it hurt? would it be a fast kill or a slow painful death?”
After graduating college in May of 2013, going through two jobs in a year, and having a boyfriend four hours away from my arms, I felt stuck. How could this happen to me? I was Hillary. I won the top honors journalism scholarship in college, I excelled in my studies, I held a resume of internships even a CEO of a Fortune 500 would applaud, I had friends, a big New England house, a nuclear family–so why was I feeling like such a failure?
The answer is simple: I didn’t know, I still don’t know. five more years from now I probably still won’t know, but at least I’ll have the tools to deal with it.
Every day from May 2013 on felt like a struggle, like I was tied to my bed and couldn’t get up. In my free time and my bouts of unemployment, I would do nothing but lay in bed cowering in fear that someone would find out who I really was: hopeless, useless. and a failure.
Most days I would feel nothing. Imagine going through your whole day just being numb. the only time you snapped out of it was to cry (hysterically), and then, boom, you’re numb again. just like that.
“Xanax,” they told me. “Xanax will get you moving again. you’re just going through a rough patch of anxiety.”
Did the Xanax help? for a while. If you’ve never taken it, imagine being in a euphoric state for three hours or so and then just falling asleep for another four.
but then you wake up, and you’re numb again. and you cry again. and you’re hopeless again.
“I don’t need help, I’ll bounce back,” I would tell myself.
I was wrong. The turning point for me, and why my story is starting now rather than five years ago when my depression came into fruition, was April 24, 2014. By now my parents and my boyfriend had a group iMessage going, making sure one of them was in constant contact with me–they were afraid to leave the house. Finally, we get to April 24. Three days after my 23rd birthday.
“Hillary, we need you to admit you need help, or get your act
together.” my parents said in an intervention like setting. I could feel it coming, the numbness was over, the waterworks were beginning.
Thats when it hit me (or so I wanted to believe): they were banning against me. At that point I blamed my actions (or lack their of) on everything but the kitchen sink.
“You did this to me!” I screamed to my dad. “You! I’ll never be as successful as you and you look down on me for it!” I said between huffs of gasping breath, hysterically crying.
I’m not a parent, but I can only imagine the pain wave I sent shivering through my father’s body as I uttered the words “You.Did.This.To.Me.”
When my boyfriend finally entered the room, I panicked.
“And you,” I snapped, “Stop talking to them! Stop. it. now!”
At that moment I looked around to see what I had created. there was no one to blame, not even myself.
The next morning I was seeing a psychiatrist.
5 years it took me. 5 years of being in and out of therapy, blaming myself, my mom, my dad, my weight, my eating habits, my school, alcohol, and other useless excuses to explain what was happening to me, but it was none of those.
Depression isn’t something thats black and white. Think of all that happened to me in 5 years: I went to college, I left college, and I was going through jobs like underwear, the whole time not knowing where I wanted my life to go, who I was and who I wanted to be. There are millions of 20-somethings that go through what I went though (and am still going through) every single day. Some get away scotch free, some find the struggle to be worse than my own, but for everyone, read this: There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
I’m still looking for my light, and with a little help from my support system, my faith, my therapist, and modern medicine, I’ll find it.
I share my story because of the outliers. the twenty-somethings who commute home from work everyday and just cry. the college grads who come home from four years of fun and hit a brick wall. the 26-year-olds who have an engineering degree and are still waiting tables and finding comfort at the bottom of a bottle, you are the outliers.
“your depressed? you must be suicidal”
“depression is only a cry for attention.”
“depression is what only weird emo kids go through.”
All of that is wrong. wrong. wrong. I’m a white, 23 year old, typical New England, Starbucks drinking, New York City slicking, beach loving girl, and I’m just now starting to come to terms with depression–It doesn’t target one group of people.
Although I was never to the point where I was suicidal, the stigma of depression leads people to that route, and it needs to stop. Mental illness is not synonymous with suicide, however, we as a community of people, have made it out to be that way, and because of it, plenty of young souls have died way too soon, thinking that there is no other way out.
Shame on us. Shame on the world for making depression an on-running joke. Shame on you and I and everyone else who has ever said things like, “I’m so upset I’m going to kill myself.” We’re a world of people who are trained by nature to help others in time of need, so why make a joke of it?
So, for all you outliers out there, those who think “this will all blow over in time,” even though you can’t find the energy to be anything but a lifeless human being, I’m here. We’re here. reach out. I did.
Hillary Goldsmith, Stamford, Connecticut
2nd Place Winner