When Did My Depression Start? I Don’t Know

The first time I went to see a therapist, she asked me when all of this started. “All of this” is a very non-descript way to broach the subject of depression, by the way. The answer seemed simple at first. But then I gave it some thought, and what becomes clear is that this is something that I’ve dealt with for much longer than I realize.

At first I believed that my depression and anxiety began in college. My first year of college was very eventful – to say the least – and it took quite a toll on me. When I started my sophomore year and things settled down, that feeling of being emotionally drained persisted. I didn’t enjoy anything – classes, hanging out with friends, anything I was involved with. I would work out constantly because it would take my mind off the depression that seemed to creep in day after day. I began to distract myself as much as possible from the constant state of anxiety I lived in.

The next therapist asked me about my childhood. How were my parents? Did anything traumatic happen to me? Did I undergo any trials or tribulations that – to me, at least – couple help explain my current state? And the answer was…not even a little bit.

Is that something I should complain about? No, not really. It must really suck to have parents who would do anything for you and enough siblings to always have something to do (I’m one of six children – a big old Catholic family. That obviously afforded me plenty of alone time with my thoughts).

I don’t regret anything I did growing up; I loved all of it. But what I think it did was distract me from having to think – really think – about who I am as a person. Maybe that was just because I was a kid, and couldn’t comprehend the fact that at the end of the day, I always felt like I hadn’t accomplished anything. That what I was doing with my life didn’t matter. That everyone else was better than me. As long as I can remember, I never thought I was all that important. I still don’t. But that’s okay. Now I know that this is part of me, I can attack it just like I do everything else. And that makes me feel pretty good.

My Brain Might Be Broken

Sometimes I think my brain is broken. I don’t know when, but at some point, someone got inside my head and turned the screws loose. Or they took stuff out and forgot to put it back in. Regardless, things are not as they should be in my head. I know that for sure.

It’s been hard to figure out what goes on in my head. I didn’t have a name for it until I was 19 years old, when I went to a psychiatrist for the first time. I went for a simple enough reason: I’d been sad for a long time, and there was no reason why. At least, it was that simple to me. The longer I was there, the more I realized that what I was thinking, what I was feeling, wasn’t normal. And so, I tied being normal to having normal thoughts. And that’s how my journey with mental health began.

This blog is going to be a lot of things. It’s about me, yes, but it’s also about mental health, about depression, about anxiety, about people, about life. My mental health has shaped me in ways that I could have never possibly imagined, and transformed me so many times into so many different types of people that it’s hard to keep count. It’s a big part of who I am, which is why I’ve decided to write about it.

But this will also about resiliency. About believing in yourself. About trusting that the path you’re on is the right one, or worse, the one you don’t like but need to be on. It’s about a lot of things, some of which I don’t even know yet. But that’s the beauty of this path that I’m on, a path I didn’t ask to take but am still going to travel. Because I’ve seen this issue from every possible angle, every side of the coin, every happy high and depressing low. I’m not saying I’ve made it out safely to the other side – I don’t know when that will be – but I do know that I’m not going to stop trying to get there. And this blog, this collection of writing and work and art that I plan to create, is the real-time, real-life depiction of that fight, that non-stop fight to live a happy and healthy life.

You want a one sentence description for what this blog will be? I can’t do that. Go ahead and try to describe your mental health in one sentence. I’ll wait.