Dealing with depression is difficult through ups and downs of high school

  My first day of high school, I was welcomed in. We moved to the other side of the gym and then had a moment of silence for a student named Dylan Walker, a student who took his own life. The issue of teen depression once again was in my face, but this time is was for real and it was almost me.  

   Throughout high school, I have struggled with many mental disorders: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder. Throughout my high school journey and my dealing with depression, I learned to start loving myself and accept my imperfections and recognize my strengths.

  High school prepared me for many things, but not how to deal with my depression. Nine out of ten times, the things I heard were “Madi, you have another missing assignment,” and “Madi, your grades are slipping. You need to fix that.”

   No one said “Madi, how can I help fix you?”

  High school didn’t tell me that I would have a mental break down in the middle of Payless, because my rent was late. High school did not prepare me for my family being torn in half twice and feeling like part of it is my fault. I wasn’t ready for the anxiety attacks where I would shove my face into my best friend’s chest. It didn’t prepare me for feeling alone.

   But, I wasn’t alone. I had friends, and a lot of them were dealing with the same stuff. They would come to me and ask questions about everything from relationships to depression itself. For a split second, mine wasn’t overwhelming my mind. I was completely consumed with theirs.

  That sounds kind of harsh, but it helped. It made me feel okay for a minute because I wasn’t the only one going through this. I helped pull the blade from people’s skin, figuratively and physically.

   Depression is a real struggle for me and has been since elementary school. In high school, you are told to be involved, but what if nothing feels worth your time?  I tried multiple activities: cheerleading, FCCLA, journalism and speech. All of them were factastic, but it was still hard to get motivated. It only became more prominent as I grew older, even though I seem like a happy-go-lucky individual.  The first time Hannah Chapman found out about my depression, she broke down in tears and said, “I thought you were so happy, everyone always fed off your peppiness and smiles.”

   You are told you love yourself, but no one ever taught us how to love ourselves. This is the most important lesson in life you will learn, even if I don’t know how yet.

   I’m still working on loving myself. It takes time and effort, but it’s not impossible. You just have to truly want to. You have to look in the mirror and say, “Hey, you gorgeous creature, I love you” – even if you don’t believe it. You have to want to help yourself in order to love yourself. If that means eating healthier or going to get medicine for the brain, you have to want to do it.

  I have been teaching myself how to counteract my depression all through high school, but that is a lot of work for a high school kid.  I’m not saying it can be done. It’s hard, but I’m still writing, aren’t I? It’s a constant battle, but there are good days. There are good things: dancing in the rain, staying up all night reading, binge watching American Horror Story: Coven in two days, drinking red cream soda and eating tin popcorn with my best friend by my side.

  We have assemblies about suicide, bullying and drug use, but those never get to the core problem that a majority of us face: the need to be perfect. What about the assembly about how we don’t have to be perfect and how it’s okay to be sad sometimes? Not every student should have to feel like they have to be an honor student. It’s okay to be average. I remember saying “I hate that I have to be perfect and I hate that I’m not perfect.” To this day I still feel this way sometimes.

  When I was 13 and 14 years old I tried to kill myself. I could have been just another teen suicide, but here I am writing to you. If you don’t get anything from the rest of this, get this. You are worth it. You don’t have to be perfect. I don’t care what anyone says to you. You are enough just the way you are.