What Does Depression Really Feel Like?
Depression isn’t just a thought; it’s a whole body of feelings: ribs breaking, bones crushing and dull aches. It’s painful. It makes you feel worthless and inferior to everyone. I’ve known this feeling for years, and it’s just as hard as the first day I felt it.
The feeling came gradually, then suddenly. I’ve had a good life since I was adopted, but I’ve always carried a sense of abandonment and rejection. It’s hard to keep relationships strong or even get relationships to work for more than a week or two, and I tend to push people away before they can hurt me.
My real depression hit when I was about 10 years old. I felt sick all the time. I was failing school, and I would do anything to stop the pain. So I started smoking, drinking and worst of all, cutting. Nobody knew. All of the things I did helped, but only for a short period of time. Once the feeling subsided, I would put myself in more pain to avoid the emotional pain, even if only for five minutes.
Still, nobody knew how I was feeling. I didn’t know how to tell anyone, especially my mother. I thought she would be so disappointed and embarrassed. So I went on like this for so long. Confused, lost and not knowing where to go or who to tell. I put my feelings aside and tried so hard to live. But, it didn’t change the way I felt.
Another day, another cut. They kept getting deeper, down to a dangerous point. I masked my feelings so everything seemed normal, even though I was ready to die. It’s probably the most painful feeling in the world. You feel so alone and sad that you’re willing to take your own life to stop the pain. I kept falling deeper and deeper until I resorted to bringing a razor to school just for a quick fix. That’s how I gave myself away. Someone walked into the bathroom while I was in there, and about 20 minutes later, I was called into the guidance counselor’s office.
Pain, fear, regret and guilt ran through my body. When my mom arrived at the school, my heart dropped to my stomach. I heard her heels cracking down on the tile halls, and my heart beat faster with every step. When she made it to the office doorway, my vision went black and the next thing I felt were her warm arms around me. I felt relieved but guilt—guilty that she cared. I could have told her sooner and saved her so much pain.
The school suspended me for having a razor, and I went to mental health services that night. I talked to a doctor, and they sent me home with Prozac. I was on high watch for about two weeks until the medicine started working. A few weeks later, I went ice skating . I felt like the kids who were there hated me. I was different, and it intimidated them. Unfortunately, I let the kids break me, and I had my first suicide attempt that night. I was 12. That was the first time I was admitted to a psychiatric ward. They got me stabilized, and I went home.
I was admitted many times after that. Now, I’ve been clean and happy for over a year. Of course, I still have rough days, but that will never change. Not for me. Not for anyone. I now go to a school called Eleanor Gerson. Since I never got along very well at my old schools, I hopped around a lot, up to three times a year. There was no acceptance of diversity, and kids were cruel. They made fun of me and abused me all the time. At one school, a group of five football players pushed me down two flights of stairs. When I switched schools, everything immediately seemed better. Everyone took me in like I was family, and I love my Gerson family. My name is Maxine, and it gets better.
Maxine is a student at Eleanor Gerson in Cleveland Ohio.