I was first diagnosed with depression when I was 15 years old, although I experienced it long before that time. I remember it strongly, a beast lying on my back, as I hid under my covers in the dark, the fear of the shadowy unknown making my heart pound in my ears and my eyes tear up. My brother enjoyed tormenting me by making me be in the pitch black of my room. He knew I'd be too afraid to get out of bed to go out and turn on the hall light. Hell, I was too afraid to even try to reach up into the darkened room for the string dangling in the middle of my bedroom, to turn on the ceiling light. Instead, I was there, seven or eight years old, with a beast of depression who told me I was worthless and a piece of crap for being afraid of the dark. It was merciless and painfully abusive from the beast and I came to believe I was deserving of such abuse which only served to fuel the fire more intensely.
I remember the first time I heard about what depression was. I was in the seventh grade. Suddenly, there was a name for the feelings I had and, yet, I really did not want to face them. So, even though I knew that I had depression, I did not ask for help for it. I learned about it again in eighth grade and, again, I saw myself in the definitions. But I didn't feel like I could face it. I felt embarrassed. I felt like it might make my parents upset with me. I felt like I was a failure at life. So, I stuffed it down inside of myself. All along, though, I was secretly self injuring (since the age of nine or ten) and I also started emotionally eating. My depression wasn't named yet, but it certainly manifested in different ways. On the other hand, from the outside, most people would have had absolutely no idea. I worked very hard to hold everything together. I didn't let my grades drop, even when I was put in the hospital while in high school (twice). I was an overachiever and was involved in a litany of extra-curricular activities and held leadership roles in most of them and I did not let my depression get in the way of any of that. Basically, I made sure I controlled the things I could control. I remember going to the school library and looking at a folder of articles about depression and suicide as if I were doing school research on it but the truth was that I was doing research on myself because I wanted to understand why I felt so damn bad. I felt like if I read something that someone wrote about their experience, maybe I would feel less alone in the world. That was my theory, anyway.
My first psychiatrist's name was Dr. Mata and she was difficult to understand because her accent was quite strong. I was sent to her by my first therapist, Dr. Blue (ironically treated my depression...hehe). I was sent to Dr. Blue after months of sitting in my school counseling center, crying my eyes out each and every day. The social worker there was very kind and would just sit with me and let me be, which was actually the first time I felt I didn’t have to make my feelings go away (not that I could’ve made them go away if I wanted to!). Eventually, the school referred me to an adolescent psychologist, which is when Dr. Blue came into the picture. I felt she helped me, at the time, although others came to help me even more in the future.