In the midst of moving into my first ever apartment and preparing for my sophomore year of college, I was overcome with anxiety. I rushed into my roommate’s bedroom and demanded she take me to the emergency room. By the time we arrived the sensation was completely gone, and the doctor sent me home with a bottle of Xanax.
The First Diagnosis
In the following weeks, a general physician would send me to a psychiatrist where I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder. It was a hard pill to swallow. Throughout high school and my freshman year of college I was the life of the party. I was constantly complimented on my bright smile, had tons of friends, and loved making people laugh.
Now that I was aware of my diagnosis and the symptoms of anxiety, my condition got worse. It seemed like every day I was battling something new, from heart palpitations to shortness of breath. I convinced myself that it was not my mind, and there had to be something else wrong that was making me feel terrible. I tried to make the most of my college years, but always seemed to end up unhappy if I left my bedroom, so that’s where I stayed.
The Second Diagnosis
After graduating college, I shopped around to cardiologists, endocrinologists, and pretty much anyone that would look at my list of symptoms and attempt an answer. I decided to make an appointment with my family doctor to talk about what options I had left. He shook his head up and down as I explained how horrible I had been feeling. I was so relieved that someone was agreeing that my symptoms were real. There was a moment of silence and then I heard the words come out of his mouth, “I think you’re dealing with depression.” I am a beautiful 22 year old who just graduated college, my parents love me, and I have the rest of my life ahead of me. How can that be?
The doctor handed me a pamphlet which outlined the disorder and a prescription for a daily medication to help me get back on track. I got home and immediately googled all of the information he had given me. It was true. I finally had an answer. As soon as I realized that my mood was affecting my body’s ability to physically function I noticed a huge difference. Less than a month later, I had a full time job and started applying to graduate school.
The Life Diagnosis
Depression is something I have never felt comfortable talking to my family about, but will openly discuss with strangers who admit their similar struggle. Of course I still have bad days. Most mornings I would rather not get out of bed, and sometimes I imagine eating a whole pint of ice cream for dinner, just like in the movies. But then I remember, it may be cloudy now but it can’t rain forever. There will always be a smile waiting for me somewhere throughout the day, and it’s important to show others that depression is not a death wish. It has made me who I am today.