“No, I can’t be depressed. I’m not some psycho,” I remember telling myself once. For two-and a-half years I had felt this way. I went on with my life just telling myself I was in the wrong place, and ignored the very fact that I was suffering from depression. It was far too easy to blame Georgetown or other people for my struggles than it was to blame myself. However, over time, as I took a look inward at who I was becoming, I became terrified. I saw how I was hurting those who were important to me; I saw how I was creating problems for myself; I saw that I needed help. For too long, I had avoided seeing therapist, out of a misguided sense of pride. I thought I could fix myself. I was wrong.
Earlier this year, Robin Williams took his life, shocking the world. More recently, Wayne Brady came out and said he was suffering from clinical depression. People think that successful people are immune from depression, probably because they think that they have no reason to be depressed. This has made it uncomfortable for people to talk about being depressed, as if it were some sign of weakness. As a result, there is some kind of shame to admitting you are or were depressed. This only works to further the stigma regarding depression. As a result, people like myself, who would have benefited from therapy as a freshman, avoid seeking help.
When we write people off as crazy we further stigmatize mental health issues; however, when we see people as humans, we can understand why people feel certain things or act in certain ways. As a university community and as a society as a whole, we need to see people as imperfect humans. Doing so will help destigmatize a condition that affects nearly everybody.
It is incredibly painful for me to look at all the people I have alienated because of my depression. For the 27 months during which I was in denial, I acted like I was a different person altogether. The depression had crippled every part of my personality to the point that I was not myself. As a result, I watched people who were important to me drift apart. I hope someday I can mend all the bridges I burned because of my depression.
By no means do I consider myself cured, but I can finally admit that I need help. Mental health issues are so easy to ignore, yet their impact on countless lives is so immense. The past 27 months, I have become the biggest barrier to my own happiness and success. I realize this now, but back then, I blamed the people I was surrounded by, the people from home who I missed, and the school I was attending. And this only created for me a downward spiral. My life could not go on the way it was. This realization has saved me from letting depression ruin my next three semesters; although the battle with my mind has just begun.
For years I have been ashamed to have felt depressed. I thought I was being weak. However, when I saw how depression was taking control of my life, I finally discovered I needed help. I thought seeing a counselor would require me swallowing my pride and admitting I was some kind of weirdo, but I now realize the only weird thing about me was that I refused to seek the help I needed. Seeking help does not require abandoning your pride, and in fact, I feel a stronger sense of pride now because I can admit that I am imperfect and need help at times.
I hope that by writing about my struggles and experiences others might not be ashamed seek help, as I was. Depression does not make you a psycho; depression is not something anyone should ever be ashamed about. It does not make you abnormal. It makes you an imperfect individual in an imperfect world. I wish I hadn’t waited 27 months, but if just one person can read this and feel empowered to seek help, then my struggle won’t have been in vain.
Joe Murdy is a junior in the College.