Because I Never Knew Happiness ...
By Sierra, age 15, California
Just last year I was diagnosed with mild depression. I could tell that it was there, creating a hole in my heart with each passing day, giving me only the energy to sleep, eat, and cry. I could feel it, I could taste it, and I could see it when I looked in the mirror. I was sad, so deeply sad that it hurt to be alone, and sometimes it hurt to laugh.
At this point in my life, I was good at hiding the unhappiness, but I could still feel it. It sat behind my eyes, giving me unnatural passions for sad stories, "sob-worthy" movies, and sad songs. I spent my weekends being miserable, and school days going from one group of friends to another, never feeling accepted by anyone.
This all began about the time I started middle school, right after my parents' divorce. I went through a stage of denial, selfishness, and naivete. The depression hadn't quite developed into the disease it would become later when I was diagnosed, but it sat lingering, waiting for the perfect time to take complete control. By the seventh grade it had waged war against my body and spirit, leaving my hope defenseless. It left me passionless to play softball, the sport I had loved since I was five years old.
As the depression spread through my bones, I was in my eighth grade year, the year when you begin to yearn for summer and feel the ache of growing up. While I tried to resist the growing pains, I eagerly set out to ignore my depressed state. I hopped back onto the softball field, threw myself into my schoolwork, and almost became what I'd call a hobbit. I spent all of my weekends parading around my house and writing small pieces of art in an old notebook, keeping this newborn talent to myself. I began to learn more about my mother, and learned that she truly was my best friend.
By this point I definitely knew something was wrong. I was sad all the time, I ached for a different life, and I was always tired. Pains came too easily, and left only after long periods of time. Softball became more of an outlet than it ever was; anger and rage engulfed my body. I spent hours listening to music blasting, and whizzed through books like a maniac. (I still live for an insanely inspiring book.)
After about a month of once-a-week visits to a local psychologist, I was diagnosed with depression. I took into consideration that depression is deadly, and very much a disease. I started an organic medication, hoping it would do the trick, but after a few months it still hadn't helped.
Freshman year began. The depression hid from my view, lingering in the shadows of my mind, still making me exhausted 80% of the time, keeping me from being social at my new school. My mind became forgetful and left me lingering on thoughts and sentences. For most of two months of school, I had one friend, and the time we spent together started to become briefer and briefer. The truth was, we began to annoy each other. (We are still good friends to this day.)
This was the last straw, but the more I wanted the prescription meds, the more my mother was hesitant to make the doctor's appointment. But as my loss of memory became more frequent, and the phrase, "I'm tired" started to wear thin, plus the constant badgering from my shrink, she began to agree with me. She could see it in my interactions with people, and the constant aggravation I endured. I was sick and sad, so she made the appointment.
I was put on my first prescription med and started to feel so much better. I began to rely on the morning dosage and that began to scare me. Still, I take my medication every morning, and have realized it keeps my spirits high, but allows me to be the backbone of my soul. It's a great feeling, and with summer just beginning I can't wish for a better attitude.
I was thirteen years old, and I had lost myself. This was the journey I needed to take to find myself, and sometimes it still is. I am fifteen now, and I am mostly sure that I understand myself and all the potential I have.
So this is my advice for all you girls out there - take this in, reflect, and if you ever have any of these symptoms or feelings, do something about it. Talk to your parents. Ask if they see any of this in you, and let them know how you feel. In the long run this will help.
You may or may not have depression (I hope you do not), but sadness is a hard feeling to overcome. Don't let the tears and the tiredness destroy your summer. Besides, it's horrible never knowing happiness, because I hear she's a great person.
Editors's note: Each person responds differently to medications and other treatments for depression. There is no single solution that's right for everyone. If you are experiencing some of these symptoms, talk to your parents and then to your doctor. Above all, don't give up until you find the solution that's right for you. Again, there is no one magic pill or program that's perfect for everyone. But don't just sit there and suffer. Get started on the road to finding the answer that's right for you.