I stood there in front of the mirror, disgusted at how much I had let my mind take over.

I hadn’t eaten in days, I was constantly throwing up and my body felt heavy and weak. My boyfriend waited in the other room anxiously trying to give me the space I demanded. Then, it hit me again like a wind so strong it knocked my heart all the way to the bottom of my stomach. “Why? Why is it worth it?” I asked myself, but I couldn’t seem to come up with any answers.

I wish depression was like it is in the movies. You know, where the character is so depressed and they go out and do wild things and not care about life and then someone comes into their life and saves them. Depression is when time moves for everyone else but it refuses to move for you. Depression feels like one of the loneliest things in the world because it is such a personalized experience. People get depressed for different reasons, but what we have in common is the struggle to beat the emptiness that comes with it.

In 2010, I was coping with the kidnapping and murder of a very, very close relative of mine. Shortly after in 2012, my grandmother whom I grew up with and was my best friend and partner in crime passed away. In that same year my dad has his leg amputated because of his diabetes and I felt like life would not stop throwing curve balls at me. I was emotionally exhausted and completely drained but (I thought) I  had made it through. I had never experienced depression before but when I moved into the dorms for my very first semester in college, in 2013, the stress and sadness consumed me. I was away from all of my family in a new town trying to find myself and it came out of nowhere.

My brain was consumed by horrible and devastating thoughts about death, the world, my life, and the fear of oblivion. They started off as small strings of weird thoughts that I would brush off, and they accumulated into a huge force that put my life on hold. I just wanted to sleep. I didn’t want to wake up. I wanted to cry and I didn’t want anyone to ask why.  I didn’t want to talk about it because it scared me even more to hear those thoughts out loud. I couldn’t understand how I wasn’t strong or smart enough to just ‘snap out of it.’ I became terrified of the fact that one day I would have to say goodbye to some of the people I love the most forever…I mean they would just stop existing. I didn’t want to talk to them either because it would trigger the thoughts that one day I wouldn’t have them and an anxiety attack would swallow me whole.

How could a girl like me, so headstrong and ambitious, be caught up by something like this? How could I not be stronger than myself?

After what seemed like an eternity, I went into counseling at my university because I knew I didn’t want to continue on this road and I was definitely not ‘snapping out of it’ on my own. The counselor suggested writing, so I wrote. I wrote my heart out and seeing those words that triggered my thoughts on paper, made it even more real and terrifying. I braced through it and wrote even when I didn’t want to. I talked to my boyfriend about it and even though he never fully grasped how or why, he listened. I talked to others in private about their depression and their struggles. I surrounded myself with good people and positive quotes and stories. I re-imagined my goals and switched my major to Social Work. I reinvented myself on the inside, and no one even knew anything was wrong.

Some things still trigger a bit of that dark time in me, it’s a scary flashback but it is one that puts my life in perspective. I am thankful for my depression because even though I have managed to overcome and regain control of my mind, it’s there reminding me of how much I’ve grown and how much I have overcome. My journey with God has never been the same since then and I can’t say I’ve grown closer to my faith because I needed to take a step back from it, but I am definitely starting to find my way back.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10