The following guest blog is by Mark, a Beyond Blue reader who wants works in the mental health field.
If you are very depressed, you believe one thing – that things are going to be the same forever, and that you’ll never be happy.
I was there. I thought those exact thoughts and know this – they’re wrong. Now things are really good for me and I want you to know that things can become really good for you. If you right now feel depressed and like things will never change, you can know that yes, they can.
2007 was a year full of excitement and energy. I was just starting at Columbia and was excited to have overcome my struggles with depression and ADHD. I spent the summer before classes working at a top research laboratory, started a website to sell my services as a web consultant and a few other things. My energy level was high and I was happy to do a lot of things at once.
At school, however, things quickly became very hard. First, it was a culture shock, having come from a very religious Christian family to go to a school where getting extremely drunk was normal and even expected. Beyond that, my inability to pay attention to some things started to hurt me.
In high school, I could get away with not studying for classes by sheer intelligence and ability to BS on tests. Yet I had taught myself to do math homework sets, an accomplishment that was very hard because I couldn’t sit still but that I was very proud of. So I thought I would become a mathematics major.
The first week that dream was shattered. I started at the hardest class I could take, an advanced theoretical, multivariable course. I made it through one class and decided to lower my ambitions. I tried a more moderate multivariable calculus class but left halfway through the first class. Outside the classroom, feeling dizzy, I decided to give up on math.
A lot of things like that happened. I thought I could do things that I was a smart, hard-working person – but because of my ADHD, I simply couldn’t perform as I should have. Over the course of the year, I went through possibly 40 friends, unable to develop long term relationships and get stability.
Things got worse. I became very depressed at the end of 2008. When classes started in the fall of 2008, I was unable to go to classes anymore. Despite that, I somehow managed to get three B’s. One in a class on Abnormal Psychology that I did not sit through a single lecture. It was too much. And one in a class on philosophy which I went to at least half of the classes – but slept through most of them.
I was very depressed. All I did was sleep and complain about how much I hated my life. I lost all of the friends I had made the previous year. It hurts a lot to have every single person you thought cared about you turn their back on you.
My life consisted of sleeping and playing video games. Already skinny, I lost a lot of weight. That time period is a big black space in my memory- I simply don’t remember most of it. For which I am very, very grateful.
Long story short? I eventually found a therapist who managed to figure out a treatment plan for me that worked.
The spring of 2009 I again took only 3 classes but this time got an A in two of them and one B. Things were starting to get better. But I was falling behind in my studies. That summer I received a warning letter from Columbia telling me that I was on academic probation. I put in a drawer, unable to tell my Mom.
Fall 2009 I had to take the very multivariable calculus class that had made me give up on math. What a weird coincidence that my major, which is business, would require me to take a specific, advanced mathematics course – and the one that made me give up on math! But this time things were different. Not only was I able to sit down and do the homework and study, I was one of the best students in the class!
For the final, we were allowed to make a cheat sheet. I was able to sit down and write more than 70 formulas very neatly on a sheet of paper. You have to understand that in the past I was only able to study 10 minutes at a time even for finals. I have that sheet of paper saved in a prominent location in my room.
And get this – I was a top student in that class at the same time as I took 4 other, very hard classes. And I got A’s in all of them.
At the end of the semester, I went to a trash can and ripped up the warning letter. I was off academic probation.
In some prayers, we ask G-d to rip up the evil decree against us. At that moment, as I ripped up my warning letter, I was hoping that, up in Heaven, the same thing was taking place.
There’s a lot more. There is so much good and happiness in my life now, and the very best thing is being able to use my experience to help other people. So please, never give up hope. Things can change! Never give up.
Mark is a part of the Health and Life medical blog team, which he highly enjoys. While a huge fan of proper treatment, he is also a strong believer in knowing the benefits and risks of treatment, like the potential for Prozac, Paxil Zoloft Weight Gain. Being able to help people by his writing makes him pretty happy.