Without drugs, fighting depression is a nonstop struggle

I’ve written about depression before; I feel the need to write once more.

Two years ago, I announced to campus that I suffer from clinical depression — a huge step at the time. I conquered my fear of revealing my troubles and felt better for it. I wanted to encourage others to be open about their own struggles. Veiled problems only grow stronger out of sight.

But I feel as though I let my readers down. I mentioned how I sought professional help. But the truth I only hinted at was that I rejected the psychiatrist’s assistance. I took medication for a while with the hope for a panacea but found the opposite.

How long will it take for these pills to affect my mood? Will they really make me feel better? Am I feeling down today because of these pills?

I wanted an escape from my head’s old lies but found the new questions worse. I made the decision that no pill would be able to conquer my demons. It would be my lifelong burden, my daily task, to monitor my well-being myself.

I searched for solutions everywhere and found balance to be the best policy. Depression is a never-ending wave, but a calm lifestyle eases the storm. Yoga became part of my weekly routine. By casting away all the stresses and concerns for even 20 minutes in the middle of the day, it became much easier to avert the void.

My experience in Costa Rica was another lesson in happiness. Time moves easily in Central America, and perspective runs cheap. The American ethos of constant productivity can defeat itself. Four months in “Pura Vida” land showed me a different way. If something doesn’t get completed today, well, there’s always tomorrow. Depression can latch on the littlest of things and swallow you whole. By seeing time and productivity as gears in my reality, not the other way around, I claimed more control over my happiness.

Talking to people, fusing desire with action, works wonders. Count how many times in a day you think of saying something to someone, hesitate for a moment and then clam up. My depression uses that plaque as an ideological weapon. “Victory!” it claims. Again, Costa Rica helped. After struggling at times to communicate abroad, I left myself with no excuse to not open up in my mother tongue. Conversation opens the blinds we too often close to society.

While there is more to add to my list of personal care, the list is not the reason I wrote this column. I wrote this column because I feel distraught right now. I’ve followed my guidelines for happiness quite well lately, but still, I woke up this morning feeling an internal whirlwind. I knew that if I let it win by never getting out of bed it would only consume me. So I got up. I went to work and I went to school. But still, I feel like hell.

Sadly, this reality is mine and one I believe to be a constant for those suffering from depression with or without medication.

I came home and found reprieve in my art. I encourage every person suffering from this disease to pursue their own outlet. Expression is the way out.

Sometimes, the best a depressed person can do is soldier through the day. Storms always pass, and eventually, I will look back on this one with pride in the fact that I refused to subside. The voices may whisper, they may yell, but by simply getting up and working through what is needed, “Victory!” is claimed for the good guys.

_Phil is a senior in Media._