Stories on Depression: How I Survived Youth Depression
When I was a teen, I hid my depression from everyone. I was that girl who concealed her sad feelings. Sad feelings that I only realized were due to an actual depression when I went to college and studied youth depression. I’m sharing my story:
My Road to Youth Depression
When I was a teenager, my mother passed away. This major loss affected my whole world and the impact on me was global across my life. The event of her death led me down a road to depression. I stayed in that depression for four years struggling along with undiagnozed depression. I didn’t realize when I was a teen that I had depression. I thought I had normal grief. Of course, I should be sad, that was expected, my mom just died.
I didn’t realize the level of my sadness was actually depression until several years later when I was in high school and I read about depression. I was shocked to see I had experienced almost every symptom on the list for years but never understood that what I had been experiencing had a label.
I hid most of my symptoms from all of those around me. I was good at it and I was also good at isolating myself which led to more torment. Honestly, I’m not sure what I would have done had I realized I had undiagnosed depression. Would I have lived differently? Would I have sought out help? I don’t know. But I do know I’m lucky to be alive.
But, I do wish I had been diagnosed because it would have saved me a lot of pain and agony. I sincerely hope this post helps a depressed teen seek help. I wish I had tried harder to talk to others about what I was feeling.
My Symptoms of Depression
There weren’t any big red flags for the adults in my life that something was wrong with me. I managed to appear somewhat normal because I hid my symptoms. Everyone knew I had lost my mom, so any quirks they noticed about me got tossed off and excused as normal grief and normal teenage behavior. Plus, I was a good liar.
My Feelings were Not Normal Grief. I can tell you, I did not care about much of anything at all. I was hopeless with extreme feelings of being worthless with low self-esteem.
There was a nagging fear in me that every time my dad left the house that he would die too. The things I had loved doing with my mom, those activities just died along with her. I no longer even wanted to do them without her. I had done dance since kindergarten, but when she died and wasn’t around to do it with me anymore, I no longer wanted to do it, so I quit at age sixteen. Without her championing my efforts, participating in dance lost its appeal and luster.
My grades began to slip because I didn’t care about school work or grades. School had always been easy for me, but I stopped making any effort. My grades began to be lower than A’s, but school was so easy for me that I graduated with the lowest of honors without even trying. No red flag for adults here.
I thought about dying all the time and worthlessness plagued me. I even went as low as to think I was such scum that I didn’t deserve to sit next to my mom in heaven when I did die because of all the guilt I carried for all my bad decisions. There was never an intentional suicide attempt for me, but I was very careless with my own life, so in some ways, my actions mirrored passive aggressive attempts
I did what I wanted and I was impulsive. I took giant risks. Regrettably, I did many things I shouldn’t have done, but I just didn’t care. I couldn’t care. My mood swings were giant. I would cry at the drop of anything that even slightly bothered me. Eating was hard for me because when I was upset, I had no appetite. I felt alone.
How I Hid My Symptoms of Depression
I didn’t tell people what was wrong. Though I did tell my friends a little bit, however, they didn’t get it. How could they? Their moms were still alive, so they didn’t really understand me. That made me feel alone and isolated too.No one understood what I was going through in my life because none of them had gone through it. A teen with a dead mom is not the norm so I wasn’t like my friends, and I just knew they wouldn’t get it.
I couldn’t talk with my younger sister; I was looking out for her. I couldn’t burden her, plus she was younger than me so talking to someone younger didn’t make any sense to me.
I talked to my diary a lot. I wrote constantly. It was my only solace and my only counselor. It helped me a tremendous amount because I could get those feelings out of me. But, I didn’t share it with anyone (though I do think writing in a diary is a helpful idea).
No one saw a depression in me because no one saw the full me because I hid parts of myself from everyone, so the full me was not visible. To anyone. No one knew I needed help because my symptoms were invisible to those around me. I was a good liar, but in my defense, perhaps that was somewhat out of denial too. I mostly hid my sadness.
My acting out was never caught, plus, I was good at fabricating stories even if I almost got caught I was rather convincing in my cover-up.
I was emotional, but what teenager isn’t? I isolated myself and hung out in my room a lot. But, what teenager doesn’t? I kept my feelings to myself so how was anyone to know I had symptoms of depression?
As a mental illness survivor, I would tell teens not to do this depression thing on their own. Doing it on your own takes way longer to a state of being healthy, and it’s much riskier and unnecessarily life-threatening. Just don’t do it; get help. People can heal from depression, especially when they seek help.
My Advice to Depressed Youth:
Guys, seek help if you feel things have changed for you, if you begin to act differently or feel different, if you just don’t care anymore about the things you used to care about. Don’t ignore it and think it will go away.
If you feel like something is wrong, and you talk with an adult, but they disagree with you, find another adult to express your concerns to.
Seek out your parent for a conversation. Talk to a teacher or school counselor, someone at your church, or a friend’s mom or dad you feel comfortable with. Talk with an aunt or uncle or grandparent if you can’t talk to your parents, but, be sure try your parents first (this coming from me as a parent today). Ask your friends to talk; tell them how you feel. Be honest. Talk to your doctor or call a helpline.
There is help out there, you don’t need to do this alone. Don’t sit in your room and suffer all alone. Don’t hide out and pretend everything is okay. Get help and get it now, even if it doesn’t seem severe enough to you, talk to someone because it can’t hurt. I wish I had.
By Julie Hoag
Every Friday, we share and talk about depression among unemployed young people! Share your story with us via firstname.lastname@example.org