Opinion: Never be ashamed of your depression

Bruce Walton is the Opinion Editor. Contact him at bwalton4@kent.edu.

Bruce Walton is the Opinion Editor. Contact him at [email protected].

Bruce Walton

Depending on how well you may know me, you might be surprised that I suffer from mild depression. It comes and goes: Sometimes it’s as short as half a day, but sometimes it stretches into weeks or months on end. It gets its absolute worst when I’m constantly overwhelmed and getting pressure from all sides to finish assignments on deadline, study for exams and complete projects every week with few breaks in between. 

Up until recently, I thought I had a good handle on it, but I woke up one day this week and stayed in my bed for over an hour thinking about what would happen if I killed myself. It was the first time I ever thought about it that long, and that’s when I made my first call to the Suicide Prevention Hotline. I spoke with a nice woman named Beth who made me feel a lot better about everything I was going through.

Why am I telling you this sensitive and personal part of my life? Because I know what it’s like wanting to do something about my depression but not wanting to tell anyone because I’m afraid about how they’d feel about me. I’m putting myself out there because I want to show that anyone can get depression, and it’s not something you have to hide.

I have a history of self-harm. When my former therapist told me in 2008 that my lack of motivation, homesickness and ADD made me a “bull-shitter,” my mother caught me trying to break the skin of my arm with a steak knife.

The night after that happened I got the news my grandpa had a stroke, which he fought the effects of for a month, until he finally died after the second one. I hated myself even more because I was so young and wanted my life to end when my grandfather had fought so hard to stay alive. I swore never to attempt suicide or harm myself again. And to this day I never did, but that day this week was the most I’ve ever thought about it.

But don’t get me wrong: Tell the right people you need to talk or need help. I remember after that incident my family treated me differently for a while. They spoke softly and slowly like I had a gun pointed at my head. But I swallowed my pride and lived through it.

What I’m trying to say is that depression is a scary and ugly thing that people don’t like to talk about. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. Talk to anyone, call the hotline at 1-(800)-273-8255 at any time of the day or night. They are trained people who are there to help. Get a good counselor, talk to friends you can confide in about this. Change your daily routine to help yourself. Don’t think you’re too good for therapy or to even have depression.

If you know me and you read this, don’t talk to me or treat me any differently than you would because neither I nor anyone else who has depression wants that. Just treat me with the respect I need be open to talk, and I’ll be OK. I’ve learned you make things worse by keeping your depression from others and waiting for it to pass. If you’re suffering, stop everything you’re doing and talk to people who care.