Living with depression: My personal journey

Is it okay to not want to smile?

Amy Smith, Staff Writer


At first, it was really hard to notice.

I wasn’t in the mood to do the things that I usually enjoyed doing. I hadn’t been sleeping well and was fatigued. I had changes in my appetite; I just forgot to eat some days and thought it was a good thing since I was too heavy anyway. I had trouble thinking and remembering things, but I had always had that problem so it didn’t seem like anything new. I never really put it all together because I didn’t understand.

It’s not some overwhelming feeling of sadness. A lot of times, it’s just feeling…nothing. Emotions were exhausting and I just didn’t have the energy for them. Feeling happy was the hardest and drained me. It was so hard to smile.

My friends started to get worried about me. Even though I missed them, I found myself wanting to skip out on my plans with them because I didn’t want to worry them. I wasn’t worth the time it took them to worry about me. I certainly wasn’t worried about myself, so why should they be? I wanted people to love me, even though I thought that I wasn’t worth loving. I built a mask that I could hide behind and conceal how I was truly feeling. I seemed happy. I seemed like I was doing well. In truth, I hid myself away and never smiled unless I had to.

My only confidant was my journal. I wrote my feelings down because I couldn’t take keeping them inside anymore. They were consuming me. You know those little voices in your head that tell you that you’re not good enough, that you’ll die alone? Mine were not little voices. Mine were screams and I believed them. It’s very dangerous to believe those voices in your head. I started skipping classes because I believed I was just going to fail anyway. So I thought, why bother going?

I still forced myself to go to school, so it wasn’t like I dropped out for two weeks. But then, I started to scare my friends by asking them questions that never should have left my mouth.

One day, it was too much. I was writing alone about how I wanted to die. I didn’t want death, but I didn’t want to live like this anymore either. I wanted to stop existing. People who kill themselves do not want death. They want the pain to stop. My friends found me, and everything poured out. I cried for about an hour, they took me to get frozen yogurt and they made me set up an appointment with a therapist.

With the help of my therapist, I have managed to find strategies that help me cope with my feelings, or lack thereof, and help me overcome those voices. I haven’t been able to shut them out completely; there are still days when it’s very hard to force myself out of bed and go to class or talk to someone. But I have made myself a promise, a promise I intend to keep. I have promised myself that I am not going to end my own life. I don’t know when I’m going to die—it might be today, it might be 5 years from now, or it might be 70 years from now, but I refuse to let it be by my own hand.

I have depression, and I’m not going to let it beat me.