The Stigma of Depression and Suicide by T.W.

My sister is on a search and rescue team in Boulder. Two summers ago she and her crew went to search for a 17-year-old girl who disappeared around Flagstaff. The fire chief told them that the girl’s boyfriend had just broken up with her. Her family said she was on medication  for depression and anxiety. When she didn’t show up for school, her family found a note she left behind. My sister spent hours in the mountains with her crew, looking for the lost girl. They had been briefed for hours about how to deal with someone suffering from depression but they didn’t get a chance. Eventually they found the lost girl. She had jumped off a 100-foot cliff and died instantly. My sister and her partner found her and guided the police to her body.

Every year, more than 150,000 teenagers in the U.S. receive medical help because of self-inflicted injuries, according to the website healthresearchfunding.org. According to statistics from rawhide.org, 5,400 teenagers commit suicide every year, a rate that has tripled since 1960 even though we have more suicide prevention programs than before. Seventeen percent of high school kids in grades 9-12 have seriously considered attempting suicide in the past 12 months. According to the Centers for Disease Control’s website cdc.gov, males usually use guns to kill themselves. Females use poison.

The Centers for Disease Control says the risk factors for suicide are a family history of suicide, a history of depression or mental illness, alcohol or drug abuse, a stressful life event or loss, easy access to lethal methods like a gun, exposure to the suicidal behavior of others, or being in jail. It also says that the victims are often blamed or their families are blamed and people don’t often want to talk about their problems. Healthresearchfunding.org states that studies show that at least 90% of teenagers who kill themselves have mental problems. So if someone is suffering from a mental issue or going through a tough experience, how do we help them?

A friend of mine started suffering from depression her senior year in high school. Brianna’s always been kind of quiet, but she has a lot of friends. Last fall, she was nervous about going to college, really anxious about being on her own. She took a lot of advanced courses and she started wearing herself out. She gained weight and started hating herself because she couldn’t fit in her clothes. Even though Brianna has nice parents, she started falling apart. She told me she thought about dying a lot because the stress was too much and one day I saw her at the back of the class crying. I found out later that she went to be evaluated that night because she was thinking about suicide. She wasn’t in class for the next month. “All I wanted to do was stay in bed,” she told me. What was strange was that, not even a week before she fell apart she looked fine. She was a social butterfly and I’d always see her in the hallways talking to a bunch of girls. I never would have thought she’d be so depressed. She told me she was too embarrassed to tell people how much she hated herself for not being able to keep up in math class, and how much weight she’d gained over the semester. She said she was scared she would fail in college. Now she’s seeing a therapist and she’s on meds for depression.   

I think the best thing we could do for people is be a friend. I think social media makes us feel more alone and we don’t get relationships from following someone on facebook. I ask my friends how they’re doing and I listen to people. I think if people listened to their friends and actually take the time to like be a friend that someone who’s depressed would explain what’s going on. I think the expectations of our culture put so much pressure on people my age. The girls all think they have to look a certain way and guys think they have to dress cool every day. Everybody is so self conscious and the think worse of themselves than they really are. We need to encourage and support each other, stop judging and realize that friendship is important not just because it’s fun to have friends but because we need to communicate and know that other people are going through problems too and we can support each other no matter what is going on.

What’s it Like, Being Depressed? by Z.B.W.

Depression is a very common, but serious mood disorder. It causes severe symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, the symptoms must be present for at least two weeks. There’s so many different kinds of depressions with different symptoms, moods and reactions.

WebMD article says, Childhood depression is different from the normal “blues” and everyday emotions that occur as a child develops. Just because a child seems sad doesn’t necessarily mean he or she has significant depression. If the sadness becomes persistent, or if disruptive behavior that interferes with normal social activities, interests, schoolwork, or family life develops, it may indicate that he or she has a depressive illness. Child Trends says young adulthood, defined here as between the ages of 18 and 29, is a time of great change for many people, and has been associated with greater risk of mental health problems and higher levels of social stress.

The hard truth about depression is that it’s always with you. You can’t just wake up in the morning and it’s gone. Depression can be caused by many things. Some causes are more explainable than others.

I decided to go out and talk to some people my own age to see how they themselves deal with depression. Everyone has a different story and cope in their own ways. I researched some common questions therapists and/or doctors ask their depressed patients, and added a couple more questions to ask people about their personal experience. I interviewed some local kids from my school, that I personally knew deal with depression. I decided to keep their stories anonymous. I interviewed them, and turned them into a short story from their point of view on how they deal with this difficult disorder, and sort of put their perspective on dealing with depression in the reader’s head, to get a basic idea of what it’s really like.

Interview Questions

  1. How do you sleep?
  2. How is your energy?
  3. Do you prefer to stay at home or go out and do things? Why?
  4. Do you see a therapist? How long have you been seeing them? Do you trust them?
  5. If you see a therapist of the sort, have they helped you improve in any sort of way?
  6. Do you take any sort of medicine?
  7. Do you have anything that makes you feel better?
  8. If you had the power to change anything about yourself, what would it be?
  9. How would you describe your overall mood?
  10. Do you consider yourself to have a low, middle, or high interpersonal IQ?
  11. When did you start feeling depressed?
  12. Appetite?
  13. Do you use any drugs or alcohol? If so, does the use relate back to your depression?

Age:17

It’s kind of hard for me to decide if I sleep well or not. I go in phases of sleeping 3 hours a night to sleeping 14 hours a day. I guess that means I don’t sleep well or at least that I don’t have a good sleeping schedule. I think overall though my energy is pretty low in terms of motivation, but i’m hyperactive pretty much all the time. It’s a weird combination. I would say my everything surrounding sleep and my energy is just inconsistent and sporadic. Usually I tend to want to stay home and avoid going out. I try to make myself hangout with my friends because I hate feeling like i’m isolating myself, but I really hate parties or big group events. I just get too anxious and insecure around that many people. I would rather be sad by myself than be the bitter, sad one ruining the party. I feel like people see it as a burden and nobody wants to feel like that. I do see a therapist and I have been seeing her for about 2 years. I trust her with everything and I really believe she has saved me from experiencing a lot of unnecessary pain. I absolutely think my therapist has helped me improve a lot of things in my life. I have anxiety and a form of cyclothymic disorder which can sometimes give me really bad mood swings i guess but after a couple months I felt so much more controlled and stable. I take adderall for ADHD which wasn’t diagnosed until pretty recently. My therapist also was an outlet to finding out that diagnoses which has vastly improved my school and family life. I think that just having an adult who I trust acknowledge that sometimes life really isn’t fair makes me feel a lot better. I think I have a habit of thinking that some of the things that have happened to me are common or acceptable and it gives me a fairly awful outlook on life as a whole; having somebody who is older and has lived more life than me affirm that it isn’t fair and is not common or acceptable is comforting to me. If i could change anything about myself it would be how impulsive I am. A lot of the time i get into situations that I would’ve never been in had I stopped for even a single second and thought it through. I think my mood tends to be fairly neutral. At this point I feel like I have too much going on to try to experience emotion. It’s like a constant state of numbing calmness i guess. I guess i have an extremely low interpersonal IQ. I am not really happy with myself or who i’ve become over the course of high school. I think I started feeling depressed when I was in middle school, around 7th grade. It was fairly mild then but I cried everyday because I didn’t think I was good enough but 8th grade and freshman year I felt pretty happy I think. Sophomore year was when I really spiraled out of control and it’s been consistent since then. My appetite is probably my biggest struggle. This year i have essentially stopped eating. I will go days without more than a couple bites of food. It isn’t particularly purposeful, I’m just not hungry. Food has lost it’s appeal and often I feel nauseous when I eat full meals. I’ve lost about 25-30 pounds that I didn’t need to lose. Drugs and alcohol are definitely something I use to help cope. I guess for me it’s less about getting fucked up and more about trying to have a way to think about the way I feel without crying or getting overwhelmed by feelings. I like being in my own mind and I love analyzing/ observing people and their behaviors but sometimes I can’t think about myself without hating every second of it, so i guess that’s why I use drugs and/or alcohol.

Age: 17

I have a hard time sleeping, which I think adds to my constant low energy. I don’t really feel like doing anything until I’m actually doing something if that makes sense, but it also depends on how I feel. Usually I stay home unless there’s a party or get together or something. I do see a therapist, have been going for about a year now. I do trust my therapist, they help me a lot if I’m feeling undifferenced about certain situations. I was prescribed with antidepressants and anxiety pills, taking them every day. The anti-depressants help me more than the anxiety pills. They overall make my mood a little better than without. If I were to change anything about myself, probably my mood. I’m never in a good one, and I feel like I bring others down with me. When I’m around my friends, I’m usually in a pretty good mood but I get irritable easily. My interpersonal IQ is rather mediocre for the most part. I’ve been depressed since second semester of freshman year, and it has kind of developed more and more since then. My appetite for the most part is good, but becomes less apparent when I’m feeling more sad than usual. I just can’t bring myself to eat sometimes. I do drink, and occasionally smoke, but I don’t like to smoke much so I stick to drinking. Although I do both, it usually doesn’t link back to my depression, but it really depends on the situation and my mood at the time.    

Age: 18

I sleep fine but I am still tired at all times, like it never matters how well I sleep it just doesn’t help feelings of fatigue. My energy sucks usually but when I am with people who have high energy I get all excited and feel overall more positive. I like staying at home more, going out can be really really tiring, but I know that when I go out I will end up having a good time. It’s a weird cycle. I have been seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist since I was 13. I trust my therapist but my psych, is weird I don’t know because all she does is give me medication and make follow up appointments if that makes sense. My therapist has helped me with dealing with anxiety mostly but I think depression is harder to work with because there is no root reason to why I am depressed. I take hydroxyzine and lexapro. My friends make me feel better or at least distracted, attention is nice like it sounds needy and dumb but it feels nice to not be alone, I think being alone makes everything worse. I honestly have no idea what I would change about myself, it’d honestly probably be something more physical, but I don’t know what I want to do to feel more comfortable with myself. My mood usually varies, but overall I would say I am ok haha, I know that sounds vague but in general I am neutral, not happy and but not suicidal. Probably have a middle interpersonal IQ. I started feeling depressed in 8th grade and then got clinically diagnosed, feeling this way ever since. My appetite varies as well, on good days I eat a lot but there are honestly times when I just can’t bring myself to eat. I do drink and I use to smoke weed, but weed made me super depressed. So far with alcohol, I have not really noticed an overall mood change.

Age: 19

I sleep pretty well! My energy tends to be fine as long as I’m doing something. I like to go out sometimes, but I like to stay at home too and do my own thing. I used to see a therapist, it was a little over a year. She was incredible, helped me with so much. We discussed about what was on my mind and talked through it. I take Wellbutrin, and antidepressant. Listening to music, playing sports, being alone or with people tend to take my mind off things. It really depends though. If I were to change something about myself, I would want to be a lot bigger and stronger. My mood is usually calm and relaxed. My interpersonal IQ is pretty high, which I’m happy to say. I don’t know when I really became depressed, there is no pattern. It is very random. I have a huge appetite unless I stop working out, then I eat just about nothing. I don’t use any drugs or alcohol. I’ve come to realize that alcohol tends to heighten how I feel. So sometimes I’ll be really happy, but a lot of the time I get angry or sad when I’m drunk, so I just stopped drinking completely.

Age:18

My sleep pattern is kinda random. For a few nights, I’ll sleep like a rock, others I’m up for a solid five days. My energy for the most part is pretty high. I’m usually with my friends which helps. When I get home from school, I usually just get into my bed to watch tv and end up falling asleep. I do like to go out and hang out with my friends a lot, but I do like to stay at home a lot too. I like to be by myself sometimes. I do see a therapist, it’s only been a few months now, and honestly I don’t feel like I get anything from it. I don’t trust them really. We just don’t talk about the important stuff. I don’t take any medication. My parents don’t believe in a happy pill. Being with my friends really helps take my mind off things. They know how to make me laugh, but sometimes I get overwhelmed. If I could change anything, it would be my relationship with my parents. I don’t trust them, I don’t think they trust me. I don’t feel comfortable about telling them anything really. My overall mood varies. I have pretty severe anxiety, and I get attacks a school a lot. I feel stressed a lot of the time, my thoughts are all over the place and sometimes I feel like I don’t have any sort of control. Other than that, I try to have a positive attitude. My IQ is average. I started feeling depressed sophomore year, but it got really bad my junior year. My appetite varies as well. For the most part, I eat fine, but sometimes I really just have no appetite. It’s not a forced thing, I just forget to eat sometimes. I do use drugs and alcohol. I find it more for pleasure, but when I think about it, it’s more of a numbing sensation towards my feelings, and lets me forget just for a little about how I really feel. Sometimes I have a bad reaction and everything I’m feeling comes to the surface, but I usually have fun with it.

Age: 17

I sleep ok. I have trouble falling asleep at night, but once I’m asleep, I’m out. My mom thinks I sleep too much because she doesn’t know how hard it is for me to fall asleep most nights and I come home from school and take a nap almost everyday. Throughout high school I’ve learned to sleep in any place and in any position. Most of the time I am exhausted. Even when I get a lot of sleep. I prefer to go out or over to a friends house, but I don’t have a problem being home either. I try to be alone as little as possible because when I am alone, my mind has time to think about all the sad things in my life. But I love going out because I’m happiest when I’m with my friends.I do see a therapist. I’ve been seeing her since I was in 5th grade. I trust her for the most part. I have a really hard time opening up to people and talking about myself, but it’s gotten a little easier as I’ve gotten older. Therapists are kind of a touchy subject with me because I really want to say that mine has helped me, but in reality, I don’t really provide my true thoughts and actions when I’m with her. I hate when people worry about me so I tend to downplay my illness.  I have been on Prozac for two years now. I wish that I didn’t need to take it, but it’s helping me for right now. Finding the right depression medication for yourself is usually a long process of trial and error, but Prozac has been the one and only medication that I have used.  Anytime I am with my friends or family I feel a lot better. They are the most amazing people in my life and they give me so much unconditional love and support. I really enjoy reading and swinging on my hammock. It is so peaceful and in that moment I feel as if everything is so simple. I am obsessed with the sky and its eternal beauty; the beautiful colors as the sun rises and sets behind the mountains and the infinite stars that shine in the night. Drinking also makes me really happy because it lets me numb my pain and makes me forget about reality. Strangely enough, I don’t think that I would change anything about myself. Living with depression has opened my eyes to so many things that I didn’t see before. I try to be as happy as I can. Which means sometimes faking it. A lot of the time I feel like shit and just want to crawl into a hole and die, but that’s not an option, so I put a smile on my face so that no one knows how I actually feel. When it comes to my IQ, my parents always remind me of how smart I am, even though I do not think that I am. Especially in a place like Fairview. I struggle with school so much and being at a school where everyone has 4.5 GPAs and plays 2 sports I feel like a constant failure. I believe I started feeling depressed at the end of my 8th grade year. As I’ve talked to my doctors and therapists we’ve decided that high school was a big trigger for me, and it just continued to get worse from there. My appetite is fine, but when I’m having one of my really bad days, I usually don’t eat. I have used both alcohol and marijuana heavily in the past. I’ve also experimented with other drugs, but not nearly as much. My depression definitely impacted my usage. At a certain point in my life, if I wasn’t high or drunk, I was numb. After a while, something snapped and I knew that if I didn’t stop my problems were just going to get worse. I was able to stop by myself, but it was not easy. I still drink pretty regularly and quite a lot, but I don’t smoke nearly as much as I used to.

Age:17

Most nights I have a hard time staying asleep, I fall asleep really quickly because I am exhausted. However I throughout the night I will make up each hour and then stay up for about 30  min and then go back to sleep. My energy Is fairly inconsistant, I go from having loads of energy to having absolutely no energy and just wanting to sleep all the time. I almost always stay home, I have the intentions of going out with friends and doing stuff however i always stay home and do nothing. I love to spend time with my friends however it seems as if it takes more energy than it used to. I even find it hard to go and run which I love to do. I don’t see a therapist however I saw one for a year. I trusted him very much and he helped quite a bit. I currently take Zoloft  to ease anxiety and to help with depression. Nothing really makes me feel better long term, my meds just kind of numb everything, running makes me feel better short term. If I had the power to change anything about myself I would change everything to be honest, I hate just about everything about the way I look, act and what makes it worse is I hate how I feel about myself. I would say my overall mood is fairly sad, I don’t really find joy in much that I do and I often feel alone when in a crowd of people. I would say I have a high interpersonal IQ. I started feeling depressed in 6th grade when bullying really picked up and kids started to get really mean. My appetite fluctuates depending on how I feel about myself.  I don’t use drugs or alcohol on a consistent basis, I find that they actually make me feel worse.

Depression makes you feel alone in this world. You are confused and sometimes don’t know how to cope. Interviewing others on how they deal with depression opened my eyes to the reality of the fact that you aren’t the only one. No matter how hard it is for you yourself to understand what’s going on with you, remember, someone else is dealing with the exact same thing. There are others fighting the same fight, you just need to find your rock. I tell myself everyday that it’s okay to not be okay. There’s no such thing as perfection in this world, and it’s okay to be a little broken.

Depression Poem by D.M.

All my thoughts got jumbled in my head, when I found out my dad was dead.

I sat in my room for hours and just cried, I couldn’t fight it no matter how hard I tried.

The worst part was the memories, every time I thought of him it would emphasize my miseries.

It creeps up on me when I least expect it, there’s nothing I can do but try and reject it.

That’s how I got to thinking that life is fucked up, even if you’re good, your life gets screwed up.

Im jumping over imaginary hurdles, no matter how fast I go I feel like I’m going slower than a turtle.

I know things will get better although I’d wish he’d come back, but he’s gone for good and he left my heart black.

My sky will be blue again I have hope, for now just get through it and try to cope.

I love him and I always will, and I know the solution isn’t in this pill.

Fading by B.F.

 

Fades into a girl named ALI about age 22 sitting down with her knees clutched to her chest and her head buried in her hands. Its very easy to tell that she is crying. The lighting is fairly dark with some blue light shining in from a window down the hall. She looks up to the ceiling.

ALI

<sighs>

 

Scene fades into a sunny Autumn day. Camera is about at the height of a child’s head. Scene is slightly blurry to show it’s a flashback. There are tons of leaves on the ground of different vibrant colors ranging from bright red to blazing yellow. Two giant oak tree frame the picture in the background while 3 people slowly walk diagonally towards the left of the camera. The two people on the outsides are two adults(ALIs parents), one male and one female, however due to the camera angle you only see them from the waist down. In between them is ALI as a small girl about age 5, jumping in the air while the adults hold her hands. Their talking is lightly muffled.

 

YOUNG ALI

Higher, Higher!

 


DAD

You want to fly?

 

DAD picks up YOUNG ALI and spins her around his head

 

YOUNG ALI
Weeeeeeeeeeee!

<child’s laugh>

 

Picture freezes and starts to cloud up. Child’s laughter is still in the background but is slowly fading away. Scene fades to the bathroom. ALI is standing in front of the mirror, camera is behind ALI looking into the mirror as well. Though she has stopped crying you still see the makeup that has streamed down her face with her crying. Suddenly she gets really angry and punches the mirror. Before the fist hits, the camera switches to being parallel to the mirror. The fist hits the mirror and mirror shatters. Blood starts coming out of her hand as she hunches over the sink, out of breath. The camera starts fading into another flashback. YOUNGALI2 about age 7 is sitting in a dark room next to an open doorway.  In her hand she’s holding a flashlight and a book.. Through the doorway you can see light streaming through as well as the blurred images of ALI’s parents. MOM and DAD are both arguing.

 

MOM(muffled)
HOW COULD YOU CHEAT ON ME?!

 

DAD(muffled)
WELL MAYBE IF YOU SHOWED A BIT MORE LOVE IN THIS RELATIONSHIP, I WOULDN’T HAVE TO!

 

MOM(muffled)
I”VE HAD ENOUGH. GET OUT! GET OUT OF MY HOUSE, AND OUT OF MY LIFE!

 

YOUNGALI2 buries her face in the book she’s reading and starts crying. Camera transitions into a scene where YOUNGALI2 is lying in her bed facing away from MOM. MOM is sitting on the edge of the bed trying to comfort YOUNGALI2. YOUNGAALI2 refuses to face her.

 

MOM

Honey, I know you’re upset about what is going on, but sometimes these things happen in life,

YOUNGALI2
<silent>

 

MOM

Mommy and Daddy just dont love each other anymore, and that’s why we have to be apart from each other. I know you dont like it, but we have to try our best to move on.

YOUNGALI2

<silent>

MOM

Can I have a hug?

 

YOUNGALI2 turns around and collapses into MOM’s embrace. You hear the muffled sound of crying as MOM comforts YOUNGALI2.

 

MOM
Everything is going to be alright!.

 

Fades back into present time. ALI is walking down the street in the rain when a MUGGER appears and pulls out a switchblade. ALI sighs and hands him her purse, and continues walking. MUGGER looks surprised at how easy it was, and sprints away. Down the street aways he ducks into an ally. ALI sighs again and looks downcast. Fades into another flashback. YOUNGALI3 is sitting on the floor watching TV in a grungy old apartment. YOUNGALI3 is about 13 years old. You hear DAD call from the other room. He’s obviously drunk.

 

 

DAD<yells>

ALI, GET IN HERE!

 

YOUNGALI3 rushes into the room and sees her dad. He’s sitting at the table clutching a bottle of vodka. His hair is all rumpled up and in general he’s a total mess.

 

DAD
D-dance fur me, sugarplum.!

 

YOUNGALI3 starts to back away with a terrified look on her face. DAD sees this and starts to get mad. He stands up and chucks the vodka bottle at her feet. It shatters all over the floor.

 

DAD
DAMMIT ALI, I SAID DANCE!

 

YOUNGALI3 starts to dance pretty badly as her feet get cut up by the shattered glass. You can see tears coming down her face as she tries not to cry. DAD looks satisfied and sits down.

 

DAD

Thas-is a good girl!

 

As DAD is finishing up the word girl he clenches his stomach and collapses onto the floor. YOUNGALI3 rushes to his side as he mumbles.

 

DAD

Call an ambulance!

 

YOUNGALI3 rushes over to the phone. Scene fades into a rainy day in a cemetery. YOUNGALI3 is standing over the grave of her father and sets down a single rose. She then walks away. Scene fades back into present time. ALI enters her house, locks the door and turns around to see EX sitting in a chair. ALI gets really scared.

 


EX

Hey, there baby doll.

ALI<terrified>

What are you doing here, why are you here?

 

 

EX
You ran away from me so I came looking for you! We cant have you running away like that now can we.

 

ALI
GET AWAY FROM ME. I DONT WANT YOU IN MY LIFE.

 

EX stands up out of his chair and walks towards ALI. She tries backing away but gets trapped in a corner. EX walks up to her and sizes her up. ALI tries to run away but EX pulls her chin towards him.

 

EX
Now thats no way to talk to your boyfriend, now give me a kiss.

 

EX leans in to try and kiss her but she slaps him and tries to run away. EX gets mad and tackles her. EX pins her down and leans in close.

 

EX
Im gonna make you wish you didnt do that.

 

Camera fades to a scene behind ALI’s shoulder. She picks up one of the broken mirror shards and looks at herself in it. In the reflection you see she has a black eye and bruises on her face and neck. Her hair is extremely messed up. She stands up and walks over to her key rack. She grabs her keys and heads out into her garage. She grabs a vacuum hose and hooks one end to her car’s exhaust pipe and puts the other in the slightly cracked car window. She gets into her car and closes her eyes. Suddenly the entire film up to this point plays really fast as a flashback in about 3 seconds. She opens her eyes and sighs as she reaches for her car keys. The screen goes black as you hear the car start.