I was first diagnosed with chronic depression and anxiety in 2010 when I decided spending 4 months alone in a room was preferable to going to classes, and I dropped out of college. I went back the next year, to a new school, city, and field of science.
I was better, but eventually I’d find myself in the same position, engaging in the same self-destructive behaviors.
Exercise, meditation, and a good diet helped, but I never really kicked it and I needed to graduate—so I went to a psychiatrist and asked about medication.
Medication was quite literally a lifesaver. I’ve been on the same meds since 2014. They helped me graduate and overall open up and participate as an academic. It wasn’t until after I started taking them that I really realized how much my illness held me back.
I started graduate school at the height of my emotional stability. For the first two years, I was productive, I made a lot of friends, and I joined bands that performed around town. Overall, my life felt amazing.
Then, life happened. During my third year, my estranged father took his own life. I felt a mixture of emotions that is hard to explain, but I was self-destructing. Grad school itself started to change as well—the honeymoon period was over, and my work became more independent. I began to use that as an excuse to isolate myself—to self-destruct in secret while I worked and hope the face I put on for my weekly meetings was enough.
I thought I could get over it, but things kept getting worse, and the disrupting life events kept piling on.
It’s been over 2 years now. I haven’t completely grown out of the behaviors from that time, but I am working on it. If I had any advice to give—not that it’s novel—is honestly, put your mental health first. It’s not worth it otherwise, and you never know when putting it off for one week may turn into one year.
You can’t predict when life will pile on the garbage, but you can work on creating a strong foundation that’ll be harder to topple over when it does.
Author: Booker, William - follow on Twitter at @willwbooker