Growing up, I was persistently told I was a slob. Perhaps it was because my room was in a constant state of disaster or because I simply could not see any purpose in making my bed each morning. Making my bed or folding my laundry or brushing my teeth or, sometimes, even waking up each morning. It just seemed pointless to go through the motions of it all when I was just going to have to do it again tomorrow.
It wasn’t until high school that I received a diagnosis for my state of monotonous dread. As many would have guessed, I was severely depressed.
There is so much romanticization of depression in the media: the gothic-styled portraits of teenage girls with dark eyes and heavy eyeliner, the inhale of a cigarette when life is too much, the wrist marked with heavy scratches from an episode of grief. For me at least, that’s not what depression looks like.
On a good day, I wake up, maybe a bit slower than the average person, because I simply cannot fathom a morning where I get out of bed without watching at least 15 minutes of motivational TikTok. I take my prescribed daily medication, two small pills that make the world click into place. I drink my morning coffee, and I go about my day. Life is good, and life is normal, and life is worth living. But that’s a good day.
On a bad day, I sleep through my alarms — all sixteen of them. When I do wake up, it’s at least noon, and my bed feels too safe to leave. If I climb out of the sheets and covers, I have to face my problems: missed texts and dirty laundry and overdue homework assignments. It all feels like too much, and I usually retreat back to my sleepy bliss. On a bad day, I forget to take my medication, so the world is just always a little fuzzy and a little too much to bear.
On a bad day, life seems unlivable. For a mentally ill person, I do all the right things. I go to biweekly therapy sessions and every few months, check in with my psychiatrist to let her know the medication is still working. I exercise (or at least try to) and eat my greens and shower as often as I can manage.
And yet the bad days still come, and I have to force my way through the groggy sludge of despair. But despite the bitter reality of depression, there is more to life.
As I’ve gotten older and wiser, it’s dawned on me in little moments that I love being alive. A happy song with the perfect lyrics, morning drives with the windows rolled down, a stolen sunset with my boyfriend. I want to live each of these moments to the fullest and stay alive long enough to see dreams manifest themselves into actuality.
Even when life is heavy with hopelessness, I am desperate not to let my diagnosis define me. I am desperate to share my story in the hopes of spreading light to those who have momentarily lost their brightness.
I push on for my loved ones, for my peers who are also suffering, but above all, for myself.
On a good day, I make my bed (I see purpose in doing it, even if I’ll have to do it all over again tomorrow) and do my schoolwork and go on adventures and smile at the little things.
On a bad day, I take a deep breath and push myself out of bed in hopes of a brighter tomorrow. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness and is seeking help, please contact Tech’s counseling center atcounseling.gatech.edu.