Beating back depression and fighting onward

By Anonymous

If you ask me about my freshman year at Denison, I say something along the lines of “It was interesting, to say the least.” But it was much more than that. I suffer from depression, which caused me to often doubt myself and my place in the world.

In the first semester of freshman year, I started taking anti-depressants and seeing a counselor at Whisler, but it didn’t do too much for me. I have always been one to solve my own problems. But there are some problems that a person cannot solve without help. In early February, a high tide of stressors hit me.

On Monday, Feb. 3, I swallowed all of my anti-depressants, aspirin and other random pills in an attempt to end my life. I had written a note saying goodbye. I loved life, but at the time I felt like no matter what I did, it would cause me further pain.

It was two days before my mom’s birthday. At the time, I wasn’t in my right mind and had asked my closest friend, who was like my brother, to be in the room with me because I didn’t want to die alone. He had no idea what was going on.

As the drugs were slowly spreading through my body, I tried to sit up, but my legs wouldn’t work. That’s the last thing I remember. Apparently, I fell on the ground in seizures, leaving my friend to call 911.

I vaguely remember Tuesday. I was in the hospital, hooked up to an IV and heart monitors. I couldn’t move or think clearly.

On Thursday, I could eat solid food and had been able to get up for a day. I was discharged and sent to a sort of halfway house where the doors slanted at the top at an angle so that a person would be unable to hang themselves.

My family could only visit an hour each day, which we would usually spend playing cards, as there was little I wanted to discuss.

Even now, a year later, thinking about that place gives me anxiety even though I was only there for about three or four days.

At home, I had to make the decision on whether or not I wanted to come back (or was healthy enough). I knew that I had acted selfishly and hurt a lot of people with my actions and will regret it forever.

One of my biggest problems at the time was feeling separate from my peers and being a semester out of sync with them would have been very damaging to me. Two psychologists thought that I could return to school. I explained to a friend of mine my situation and said that I probably was going to come back. She told me this: “If you come back, I will not support you.”

But after missing two weeks of school, I came back to Denison. I cannot forget the tears in my father’s eyes when he dropped me off.

Since my hall was so close with each other, Denison’s administration decided it would be better if I didn’t integrate back with them right away – I agreed. So I temporarily lived in Smith. It was very hard being back on campus. I felt like I had betrayed a lot of people with my actions.

My original hall was very supportive. After two weeks, I moved back into my original room. I don’t believe I would have been able to stay at Denison if I didn’t have my friends in the hall supporting me.

Long story short, a lot of my good friends from the first semester never forgave me and no longer talked to me. The rumor started to go around that I had tried to kill myself for attention.

This year, I tried to rush again. I made a lot of friends and really felt like a regular college student. I didn’t get a bid because they thought I was a “liability.”

What people need to realize is that mental illness does not define a person. I attempted suicide. I betrayed people’s trust and acted selfishly. I made a mistake. But I am not a liability.

I am writing this anonymously not because I want to hide but because I don’t want people reading this and then only seeing me as the guy who attempted suicide. Many on campus know who I am, and many may find it easy to find out who I am. Please feel free to walk up to me and talk to me about it. I am not ashamed of my illness. What I have been through has made me a stronger person.

To those who suffer from depression, talk about it – professors will understand, friends will still care and Whisler provides excellent help.

Any of you contemplating ending your life, don’t do that to your friends and family. Be truthful to those around you, after all no one can beat depression alone.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the 211 Crisis/Hotline for Licking and Knox counties at 211 or 740-345-HELP (4357); the Franklin County Suicide Prevention Hotline at 614-221-5445; the Teen Suicide Prevention Hotline at 614-294-3300; or the Lifeline national organization for suicide prevention, 1-800-273-8255.