Depression is not something we can normalize, ignore or try to deal with on our own.
This is a lesson that has taken me over half a decade to learn, and it is one I repeat to myself whenever I am heading down a bad path. To be honest, there is no magical solution in this column that can alleviate depression. If you are reading this with a dark mind, hoping to find the insight you need to finally overcome your struggles, then you are going to be disappointed.
What I can do is hand out some advice that might pull a few people a bit further away from the edge. If this column accomplishes nothing but that, I will consider it a victory. That being said, here are three of the biggest lessons I have learned.
Number one: Depression is not funny. Suicide is not funny.
If you are making jokes with your friends about hurting yourself, then you are embracing your depressed state as being the “normal.” It is not normal. These types of groups are dangerous to everyone inside them.
Self-deprecating humor puts people at risk. Do not be a part of that risk. Offer help, not humor.
You cannot escape self-hatred in an environment that normalizes it. Find people who are positive about themselves and let them influence you. Then use that positivity to influence everyone else.
Number two: Pretending you are fine is not going to fix the problem.
Then try to look at the world through the lens of the positive, not the negative. If you judge yourself by your worst moments, you will spend your whole life thinking you are nothing.
Acknowledge your strengths and encourage other people to acknowledge theirs. Be your own force of positivity. The truth is that you are not nothing; you are everything. Treat your mind-set seriously and never ignore any warning signs you find within your friends, your classmates or yourself.
Number three: When you’re ready, seek help.
Depression is unlikely to go away on its own. If you find yourself in a hole, find someone to pull you out.
There are resources available. Family, friends, teachers, coworkers, other students; there are people who want to help you, but they need to know first.
UTA’s Counseling and Psychological Services offers six free counseling sessions for students and a MAVS Talk 24-Hour Crisis Line at 817-272-8255. If you feel like heading down to the Arlington Police Department is the only option, do it.
What helped me was being open and serious with my loved ones. There is a world of support out there if you simply look for it. There are a million nets waiting to catch you. All you have to do is aim for them.
Not everything that is written here will apply to everyone. However, these are the things that helped me. I cannot offer you a cure for mental health issues, but what I can offer is my personal advice.
Mental health is not improved through idle tolerance of your issues. Improvement comes from an active involvement in yourself as a person. It comes from investing in your own value and surrounding yourself with others who are willing to invest in you, too.
You are not broken, weak or soft-spoken. You are not dying or dead, or messed up in the head. You are not bizarre, but just who you are.
And you matter.