What It’s Like To Be 23 And Depressed
Current City: Hollywood, CA
Occupation: Part-time office assistant
Living With: Depression.
Background/Symptoms: On an average day, without medication, life is more bland than usual.
I’d struggle to see the excitement in everyday situations and have very little motivation to leave my
apartment. On a harder day without medication, this darker way of viewing life would close on
me to the point of panic and distress. Some days were better than others, I would have brief
moments of overwhelming joy that would immediately be followed by an incredible mood dip. I
think that the joy was so amplified because my body and mind would be so excited by the
prospect of happiness that it would use up most of my serotonin levels. It’s incredibly rough and
I would have little to no motivation to do anything. My favorite activities and hobbies didn’t
interest me. This sounds cliche, but in my darker periods I definitely feel like a different person.
It’s not my personality that changes, but my mannerisms too, and it feels as if the real me is
trapped under all of this mental baggage.
When was I diagnosed?: I’m not sure exactly when it was diagnosed, because I was quite
young. It was first recognized when I was a baby I think. It runs in my family and my mom first
noticed that I might have it when my first nanny moved away. I wouldn’t eat or laugh at anything,
and I was usually very smiley and energetic. Usually something would bring it on when my
favorite teacher moved away, and then pretty much any time I switched schools (I moved
around a lot) it would be triggered.
How do I deal with it on a daily basis?: On a daily basis, currently, things
have been a lot better. It’s important to find the right medication. I was struggling for about half a
year before I found the proper one, and now I have very few occurrences where I have this
“grey” feeling or mood dips.
How does it affect me long-term?: This disease, while incredibly hard at times, can easily be
controlled. Since finding the proper medication, I have slowly but surely felt my personality come
back, and my drive has come back. It is important to stay on top of it, and find a psychiatrist. By
staying on top of this condition (keeping your doctor informed, finding the proper medication and
dosage, and writing in a diary of your daily ups & downs), it can be manageable and you can
eventually return to your normal self.
Medication: It does not necessarily require medication, but mine got to the point where I did not
really have a choice. When I was younger, I was usually able to keep it away by spending time
in the sun and staying active. Once, my depression even washed away because of a new
friendship. This is because one huge way out of depression is showing yourself new things, and
opening up to new people and activities, and places. It’s important to show yourself how much is
out there in the world. But, sometimes that is simply not enough. I found a medication that really
works for me but, at first it did have some side effects. It would make me feel light headed and
dizzy, and my heart would race. I was nervous that I had to switch medications, but after sticking
with it, my body got used to the dosage.
The hardest part of having this condition?: I will often kick myself for having it. It’s hard to
have your friends and family see you like this at my lowest point, I was unable to get out of
bed. It was embarrassing, and you start to blame yourself. I had been struggling for so long
trying to help myself and had gone so long without results that my body sort of just gave up. I
felt guilty like I had let myself down. And still, I struggled to try to help myself. It was a horrible
couch potato stage and I felt ashamed, but the thing is, I was not in the proper state of mind. My
brain sort of shut off and the second I tried to approach the situation head on, I would have a
mind numbing panic attack. It was at this point that I was forced on medication. It was an awful
time. The hardest part was the toll that it took on my family and friends, and I feared that my
image was tainted in their eyes. Luckily though, the ones who really love you will fight alongside
you. The ones that I love were so great and helpful and nonjudgmental at this time, and for
that I owe them the world. That’s all that you can really ask for.
What do I do personally to cope?: Other than my medication, which has literally been a
lifesaver (yes, literally), I would say that the most important thing is to show yourself all that there
is out there waiting for you in the world. There are so many people that I haven’t met, things that I
haven’t done, and places to which that I haven’t gone. By embracing this, I am opening myself up
to life. This could mean something as simple as going to a coffee shop that you’ve never been to, or
going to see a play you always wanted to see, or going to a party hosted by a an acquaintance that
you don’t really visit with that often. By keeping life open, I am able to see past this fog of this
mental illness, and see that the disease is a liar. While depression will try to tell you that there is
nothing to live for, through the proper coping mechanisms, you slowly start to see more clearly,
and realize that there are so many reasons to live with a smile. There are so many possibilities out
there, you just have to take charge.