COLUMN: Things do get better with depression, but only if you let them


On the night of Feb. 9, 2016, I tried to commit suicide. 

It wasn't the first time I tried to harm myself, and it wasn't the first time I had considered suicide. It was, however, the first time I actively made a decision knowing there was a good chance I wouldn't come out on the other side of it.

Writing it down now may be the first time several people close to me, including members of my family, learn this happened.

And though I did come out on the other side of that decision, and have stayed on that side for two years now, I know it was one of those rare decisions that will stick with me for the rest of my life.

But I'm here, which is more than what almost happened. 

There was more to my case than seasonal depression, but the February weather didn't do me any favors. 

Winter is the only time of year when the wind hurts and you can literally just die if you stand outside for too long. It's a time of year that incubates feelings of misery. Like most kinds of depression, it's easy to get lost in it.

Seasonal affective disorder — or as it's known on the streets, "seasonal depression" — hits everyone differently, but it does hit everyone. For many college students, the cold weather outside and the ever-increasing piles of schoolwork inside can form a dangerous combination of stress and apathy — dragging your self-esteem and your GPA down like a cinderblock. 

As empowering as it is to think otherwise, it's not something that magically gets better if you withdraw into yourself and try to power through it without reaching out to those around you. That's the kind of behavior that can lead to the worst type of burnout. 

In a time of year that regularly sees increased rates of depressive episodes, it’s doubly important to not forget there are always people and things around you that can help. 

The first and most crucial step in therapy comes when you make the decision to get better in spite of thinking that you might be a lost cause. 

Mandatory therapy sessions at Central Michigan University's Foust Hall didn't do much for me, other than make me realize I wasn't the type of person that manages my emotions by talking through them with others. Thankfully, therapy doesn't have to be something easily defined. 

As someone who dedicated my life to the path of a journalist, I've found my therapy in the work  I do and the endless supply of new people and experiences that work exposes me to. It's not the most stable source of life-affirmation, but it's there. 

And it works.

But therapy can just as easily come from time spent with people you love or doing things that bring you fulfillment — the methods that you can choose for catharsis are as unique and varied as you are as a person.

Depression is a hole that will never bottom-out if you decide to keep digging yourself deeper. It's also a hole you can fight to escape.

For many people, maybe even most people, it's a fight that will never end so much as pause at intervals. 

But it's a fight everybody makes, and no matter what evidence you feel there is to the contrary, it's a fight that nobody makes alone.