Getting through a semester can be stressful, but it can feel more daunting for students suffering with depression.
For freshman Mayleigh Kimble, getting through a day can be particularly grueling. Kimble was diagnosed with depression during her sophomore year of high school in late 2016, but she said she had been suffering from it since seventh grade.
There are good days and bad days, some being worse than others. Kimble said she can always tell when she is going to have a bad day when she wakes up before her alarm. On those days, she finds herself staring at her ceiling until her first class already started.
“It makes it really hard to function as a normal person,” Kimble said. “There are some days where you just can’t pull yourself out of bed.”
Kimble treats her depression with a combination of medication and therapy. A typical day for Kimble consists of waking up and taking her medicine before heading off to class.
“I have about three classes a day, which by the end of it is so draining,” Kimble said. “Even though I’ve taken care of myself and I’m adjusted, it’s still hard to be a normal human for a long time.”
Marshall Dees, a freshman and one of Kimble’s friends, has witnessed some of her bad days.
“When Mayleigh’s having an off day, I know words of comfort can only do so much, but I try regardless to let her know that I’m always available to talk with her if she ever needs it,” Dees said in an email.
Dees said Kimble is a private person by nature, but becomes even more so when she is struggling with her depression. She becomes melancholic and very withdrawn from conversation and other forms of contact.
“When you’re really happy or you’re in love and you have like, what they call rose-tinted glasses on, everything looks beautiful,” Kimble said. “But depression is like sunglasses. It dulls the color of everything, everything looks worse.”
She also describes depression as feeling as if there is cement in her stomach, and it is heavy to carry around all the time.
Another issue Kimble faces, which is common among those who suffer from depression, is embarrassment. There is a stigma associated with mental illness which often makes sufferers feel ashamed for being unhappy.
“I have a lock box for my medication,” Kimble said. “It’s to keep it out of sight from other people because I don’t want them to know that I have to take medication to function.”
Emily Young, one of Kimble’s friends, wants people to realize that depression is a complex issue.
“It’s not as simple as feeling happier,” Young said in an email. “It’s a constant battle and not everyone can tell the symptoms as it affects everyone differently. Just always think about what you say and how it can affect people.”
Kimble said she wishes she could make people fully understand that depression is a chemical imbalance, not a choice.
“I would love to be full of life and joy, but my brain doesn’t make the right chemicals,” Kimble said. “I wish people could know that people who have depression are trying to get better. Nobody wants to be sad all the time.”
There are many resources available if you or a loved one is suffering from depression or other mental illness. You can contact the Counseling Center at 270-745-3159 to make an appointment.
Features reporter Kelley Holland can be reached at 270-745-6291 and [email protected]