I write this not to feed into the hopelessness of anyone else but for those who are hopeless to find refuge here. When I hear a sad song I feel connected to the artist and I take comfort in knowing I am not alone. That is what I desire for my readers.
I am not okay…
I keep rewriting these lines, trying to make my depression captivate my audience but I think people have heard it before. I am bombarded with stories of mental health on a regular basis, so much in fact that I am beginning to feel a bit desensitized to it. I do not think my story is original, so many have written on this topic and I am just another voice. However, I share because although it is old news to everyone else this feeling is still new to me.
Depression is often talked about as sadness but I think a more accurate definition would be a lack of hope. As a child I was hopeful, the movies I watched always kept me in suspense for the happy ending that would inevitably come. My parents would realize they loved each other and get married like in Parent Trap. My family would eat around the table on holidays, instead of pop ins and sitting around the television. Eventually I came to believe that the life presented in movies would never be mine. I did not give up hope, I just put it in other things.
Throughout school I focused my efforts on finding fulfillment in popularity. However, I was an overweight and awkward teen with a lisp. I either had to be funny or good in theater to be popular, so I did both. I realized quickly how shallow my friendships were. The thing that I hoped for was not what I had expected and like many others on my path I turned to religion.
I found a loving God who told me I am enough and that I am loved. And for a few years, which felt like only a moment, I felt fulfilled. Somehow the words my Savior spoke to me were drowned out by the ugliness of the world and even my religion came to disappoint me. I also tried to find hope in relationships but that I will save for my memoirs.
So there I found myself (now in college) in a state of hopelessness; lying around, eating sub sandwiches and watching The Crown. My behavior was not unlike other college students I knew. I was not the only one skipping classes and watching Netflix. I look back and wonder if we all were depressed but it felt normal because everyone else was doing it. Others learned to live with it but I knew something was wrong and I knew I needed help.
I began seeing a counselor in college. It felt nice to have someone sit and want to hear about me. In college everyone is battling so many things at once: finances, relationships, grades, and their own mental health. No one really had the time to help anyone else with their problems. Conversations in college are short:
College Student 1: How are you doing?
College Student 2: Not great…
College Student 1: Yeah, me too.
When I spoke with my counselor about my cycle of eating and watching Netflix, I laughed it off and dismissed it as typical college behavior but he did not. He paused and asked me how I was feeling and I unpacked the misery that I felt was my life. He listened and wrote on a notepad. He then asked me how I was doing in my classes, to which that was last thing on my mind, I told him I was struggling. He advised me to take a break from trying to figure all of my feelings out and focus on the things that I had direct influence on; school and my health.
The last two years of college was all about damage control and building my college resume. I joined clubs on campus and took on way too many college credits. Although it took me longer, I also worked to improve my health (but I have already told that story). Moving forward, I felt like I could do anything. I felt like a bad ass who got shit done and though I still had unresolved issues I was too busy to notice.
I recall finishing my last assignment senior year and I remember the feeling of total indifference. I was relieved and proud but confused about what was next, so I watched Netflix. The rest of the week was filled with goodbyes and beautiful words between friends. Graduation was filled with much emotion and tears of joy. The night was filled with too many drinks and a lot of dancing. After the night of splendor and the hangover the day after I felt the weight of my unresolved issues lying heavily on me.
I do not think it was my counselor’s intention for me to ignore my emotions but rather to empower me to see the successes that I could create with my own hands. However, as many things I have accomplished I find myself in a state of discontentment.
So here I am today, still struggling and battling unresolved issues. Hi my name is Kenneth and I am not okay…