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Moving Forward

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John Rothwell | The Collegiate

Growing up, I didn’t really have a problem making friends. At least not for the first 16 years.

My circle of friends in high school pretty much consisted of people I met in elementary school, with the exception of a few people from middle school. In elementary school, practically everyone is your friend, so I had no trouble there. Middle school was a little different, but I was always happy with the amount of friends I had and I genuinely liked each and every one at the time. Even into high school, my freshman and sophomore year, I didn’t have any issues. I had a core group at that point and felt like I had a good thing going. I thought I wouldn’t have a problem through the rest of high school.

Do I regret not becoming better friends with people? Sure.

There were definitely a few people where we were nice to each other whenever we were at a party together, or saw each other at a sporting event, but it was just a mutual kindness towards one another, nothing more. Maybe I should’ve tried to become friends with them, but that’s in the past.

Depression can be a very hard concept to grasp. It can develop from one specific event, a culmination of smaller ones, or no specific event or experience. Most times, it slowly creeps up and seems like a sickness you can’t cure. It may cause you to think that it’s something that you can’t get rid of.

When I began my junior year, it seemed like my friends started changing their personalities. One of my friends who had always been a nice, but quiet and awkward kid growing up, suddenly was running for class president. My best friend, the guy who’d been the closest to me since fifth grade, began to advance his social status, hanging out with me less.

The fall of 2013 began the development of my depression that I still struggle with at times. It was a time in my life when I was experiencing a lot of change that I didn’t necessarily want, or expect.

When I entered my junior year, I had thought that I would be farther along in life. I thought I would’ve had at least had one relationship and that my fear of talking to girls about more than casual conversation would have been long gone. My expectations were that I would’ve improved my social status at school.

During my first two years as a high school student, I thought of myself as a somewhat popular kid. I was good at sports, I had a decent amount of friends that were cool and were considered part of the popular crowd, or at least somewhat popular, and I thought that I would’ve continued to develop my social status like them. I thought that I would’ve had better grades at that point and could tell my friends my true GPA without feeling like I was inferior to them. But sadly, I had not lived up to my own expectations, and being very self-critical, I believe that this is when I started to become depressed.

Depression is hard. There’s no way to sugar coat being depressed into something positive. It’s always on your mind, and you spend a lot of mental energy and strength thinking about it. For anyone experiencing depression, just know that you are not alone. According to mentalhealthamerica.net, recent surveys indicate that as many as one in five teens suffer from clinical depression.

Now I know that at GRCC, there’s a wide array of students, but a large chunk of the student population is young (18-24) and for most of us, our brains have not developed enough emotional intelligence to know how to handle different situations and how to interpret what we believe as personal values. This most likely leads to a lot of young people becoming depressed because we feel helpless. Knowing you’re not alone is important to remember when you hit rough spots along your journey to get rid of depression. It’s going to be hard at times, and those times are what make you a stronger person, but know that there are people that will help you and want to help you with whatever you’re feeling.

“In any case, whether a student is running into a rough patch in life or thinks they are depressed, they need to seek help,” said Lynnae Selberg, director of GRCC’s counseling department said. “Many students think they have to, or want to, face these challenging times alone.”

From a personal standpoint, since the beginning my first semester at GRCC, I think my depression has improved. I’ve been able to overcome a lot of the stresses and painful memories from high school and have been able to tell myself that I’m starting a new chapter of my life. Being able to put the past behind me and focus on what is ahead and the great experiences that I can have in college, whether it’s at GRCC or a university, is something that has pushed me to overcome the depression that I’ve fought for a long time.

Going forward, my way of being a happier person, and to not let my depression creep back is to be honest with people. I had a tendency to over exaggerate things, and to make things seem better than what they really were, in order to gain approval from friends; however, now I’m being an honest person, trying to make commitments that I can actually keep, and be real about myself and do what I like to do, and not worry about what people think of me for doing it.

I’m here to tell you that depression can be treated. The key is to be mentally tough and believe you can get through because when it comes down to it, no one is going to do it for you; you have to buckle down and take this head on.

If you ever feel like you need help, or you need to talk to someone, GRCC’s Counseling and Career Center is a free available resource for any students that would like to talk to someone about what’s on their mind. You can set up an appointment for short-term personal counseling, and the counselors at the Counseling and Career Center help the student explore if they might need more help and if so, get them connected to community resources.