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no one is exempt.

by emwhy

I turn twenty in September. I stand at 5’4”, 123 lbs, and am generally a healthy eater. I played the piano for seven years when I was younger and received copious amounts of praise for my talent. I enrolled in various activities, from fencing to tae kwon doe to art classes. I graduated high school with a 3.96 GPA and seven Advanced Placement courses under my belt. After all that, I was accepted into a prestigious university and ready to blossom into a confident, intelligent, self-sufficient and successful young woman, to break out of my shell, to take on the world.

I haven’t blossomed. In fact, I’ve completely wilted. It’s still difficult for me to fully grasp the predicament I’m in. I have failed out of four classes and one more semester on academic probation means my enrollment will be withheld. My parents still don’t know and if they ever did find out… I blanch at the possible consequences. I still can’t drive on my own even though I got my license two years ago. I don’t have a job. I worked dish-room at my last job in the school cafeteria because I was too afraid to go out to the serving counters where I would have to interact with others. I avoid phone calls or worse, voicemails, and often find my mind blanking when I have to engage in them. The thought of facing job interviews makes me want to cry in frustration.

A lot of times I want to hide indoors, to avoid anything requiring social interaction or effort or ability – simply because it’s stressful. Life feels so empty and meaningless these days. I have never considered a suicide attempt because I’m weak about dealing with physical pain, but sometimes I just think about giving up. It’s such an ambiguous phrase with multiple meanings but I would desperately, blindly accept any of them in a heartbeat. Perhaps it’s the opportunity to move far, far away and leave the past twenty years behind. Or the option to curl up in fetal position, close my eyes, and make everything disappear. Or maybe just… fade away painlessly without any trace that I ever existed.

I’ve found that the way I am just simply doesn’t harmonize with how the world works. And it scares me to live in a world where I don’t belong.

I don’t think I was ever truly happy in high school but it took me a while to figure that out. I was eighteen when I first got the inkling that something was wrong, so I reached out to the counseling office at my school. I went to one therapy session and it was a complete waste of time. My counselor was grad psych student and I didn’t believe for one second that she actually gave a shit. Her demeanor seemed so mechanical, as if she was just going off a set of etiquette tips and instructions for dealing with patients. She told me I had social anxiety and depression and wanted to refer me to a psychiatrist. When I tried to tell my mom about the possibility of depression, she completely dismissed it. With this incredulous look on her face and the slightest hint of a mocking smile. So then, I dismissed it too. And I went about my days thinking I was fine.

It started becoming a problem about six months ago. I was skipping classes every day, sleeping until at least 2 PM. At my worst, which ran its course for about 2 months, I was waking up at 3 or 4 PM every day. I was overwhelmed with the thought of schoolwork and my solution was to escape it with trivial distractions. I dreaded mental challenges. I felt lethargic and emotionless most of the time but I would bawl my eyes out uncontrollably whenever I drank alcohol.

And now, being home for summer is not therapeutic at all. It’s making me feel worse, if that’s even possible. I go about my days browsing the web with very little human interaction. Sometimes I exercise if I’m feeling up to it. This house is just so cold and uncommunicative. It’s a dreary and obstructive backdrop. And the guilt of knowing that I’ve failed my parents makes it even harder to be in the same vicinity as them. I cry myself to sleep at least every other night.
I went for an annual check-up at the doctor’s office a few weeks ago and my doctor informed me that she had concerns about depression. I’ve been in denial this whole time but after seeing failure after failure spelled out for me on paper, I’m realizing it’s beginning to have an evident impact on my life.

Those are just facts. I fucking hate myself for being weak like this. I want to punch a fucking wall. I want to scream at the top of my lungs, knowing that these are all stupid fucking first world problems.

There is more to say but it overwhelms me to even think about starting on that so I’ll just leave it be for now.

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7 comments

sadspectralgiraffe 7/23/2014 - 12:47 am

i am sorry to hear this. By the way, these are not first world problems. Many people have depression. Many are living in a mental hell. I am sorry your mother and counsellor dont seem to be very supportive. Remember you dont need to live to please anyone, not even your mother… People need support… I hope you can get treatment for the depression. You have not failed your parents. If they think that, they are so shallow… I feel like i have failed my parents too, and i know im a failure. By the way society/people/parents etc. have expectations of people… ‘graduate university, thats the best. What a ‘milestone’. ‘oh look at that ‘loser’ he only cleans bathrooms’. I hate that people are judged so much. Oh and, if your parents ‘were’ to have depression and social anxiety, i bet they wouldnt like it either if everyone was unsupportive and not helping them…

seppuku 7/23/2014 - 12:56 am

I can relate to your story emwhy, though I am a lot older now, I was a very high achiever at high school, particularly talented in music and languages. Things went rapidly downhill when I hit 19, towards the end of a gap year before Uni. I was knocked sideways by my first episode of severe clinical depression. In retrospect I know that I also suffered from some form of social anxiety…I had no idea at the time what was going on with me, and back then depression and other mental illnesses seemed to be less diagnosed and known about than they are now.

It unfortunately sounds as if your family are less than supportive, though at this point they may just be too much in the dark about your situation. Perhaps they are sticking to a position of denial, as is all too common, they want you to continue to be the successful girl whose accomplishments they could be proud of. It is hard for parents to face up to this kind of thing…I know this because I am a parent of an 18 year old myself, and his current unwillingness/inability to launch himself on the world impacts greatly on my own mental state. It’s just horrible to face up to the fact that my boy is suffering, similarly to what I went through myself and maybe even worse.

I don’t mean to sound as though I am overly sympathising with your parents though. It’s not OK that your mum smiled incredulously when you said you might have depression. That is very dismissive and hurtful. And you talk of finding the atmosphere in your parents’ house ‘cold’.

Mental illness of any kind is not a ‘stupid, first world problem’, and you are not weak. I’m sorry I kind of suck at practical advice. How should you proceed from this point? Your parents will eventually have to understand and accept that what you’re going through is a serious and valid concern. How can you open up as dialogue with them? Can you get your doctor to talk to them?And you also probably need a professional such as a counsellor, to confide in about what you are going through.

Your life is far from over. You’re a very intelligent girl, you can find resources and identify options for yourself I am sure, the internet can be a great source of info. Best of luck!

ishmael 7/23/2014 - 1:41 am

Emwhy, there’s nothing stupid about these problems. Indeed, you are in excellent company: so many creative and exceptionally intelligent people throughout history have suffered from depression and other mental and emotional illnesses and torments — so many that it sometimes seems as if it comes with the territory. I second the comments above.

Just in case it would help to have added perspective from authors who have been through and/or examined depression as an aspect of the lives of so many, here are books I found helpful in my own battle:

THE NOONDAY DEMON: An Atlas of Depression, by Andrew Solomon — Fascinating study by one who understands.
TOUCHED WITH FIRE: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament, by Kay Redfield Jamison
AN UNQUIET MIND: A Memoir of Moods and Madness, by Kay Redfield Jamison — The author’s own experience.

I have tremendous respect for all who suffer this kind of emotional trial. May you blossom in a way more profound for having come through this time…

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

~ Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

lonesurvivor94 7/23/2014 - 2:06 am

I feel your pain man but at least you made it this far! I’m turning 20 and am still facing the consequences from failing high school. I had trouble enteracting with others through hs but a childhood friend helped me. I started hanging out with him and maybe another person until I got comfortable being around others.

quaero 7/23/2014 - 7:03 am

We share the same story.

C4 7/24/2014 - 6:12 pm

I think of life as a series of developmental stages. You can break them up into whatever intervals you’d like: Age 0-5, 6-11, 12-19, etc.,
You’re in a state of transition right now. Some people call this a quarter life crisis. You’re not a child, but you’re not a self sufficient adult, either. You’re somewhere in between, stumbling along, trying to find your place in this world. The future is an unopened door. You want the best possible outcome but you have no way of knowing how things will pan out. So you set goals, then formulate a plan of attack to make your dreams a reality.
It’s a tough age.
It can also be fun though, too. “The party years”. Good luck.

PainNlife 7/24/2014 - 7:03 pm

I think I see the problem….it’s your parents…see reading this made me empathize with you because I was YOU at a point and time…defeated from failure. I still haven’t succeeded. In fact one some would call my current situation “failing” but that doesn’t matter because I am still trying…failure isn’t permanent you must remember this…you are 19 almost 20…the fear you feel from disappointing your parents has turned into shame which is making you want to hide away from people…

FUCK your past! you obviously are smart…to be honest I didn’t even read the whole thing (I will when I have more time) I just saw what the problem might be…my advice? go renegade…call your parents and tell them you failed and that you are sorry…ask them to help you…tell them you NEED them to help you back in the battle…they may fuss and be angry but I bet they are willing to get your ass back in shape…if they got you this far? they won’t be that disappointed where they say “fuck you” and abandon you…

You are an intelligent young woman… I am only 22 and life has worn me out…check my post’s I’ve been here for a while and I still haven’t reached a position to where I can change the things about this world that I want.

Please just don’t commit suicide …all the people here can help…just remember we all fail…but we have a choice to get up or let the bell ring…

I didn’t hear a bell ring buddy 😉

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