My life with depression

By Anonymous Latest Activity June 29 at 12:24 pm Views 504 Replies 1

Anonymous

I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder in September 2016. Depression has ruined my life.

I received almost a full academic scholarship to attend my top choice for law school in August 2015 only to end up being academically disqualified (kicked out) in July 2016 (final exams were in May but I didn't receive the official letter of disqualification until July).

When I first started law school, I was the happiest I'd ever been. I felt like law school was the right place for me, both academically and socially. I had gone years without friends, but found a great group of friends that I felt genuinely accepted by and that I genuinely felt a connection with. I finally had a social life and started experiencing things most people usually do in undergrad or even high school. I was fully engaged in my schoolwork and my classes, and even developed great relationships with professors. I also found an apartment that had everything I wanted.

Even though everyone knows law school is difficult (especially in the first year) and I didn't come in expecting to get straight A's, I thought I would be successful to some degree. I graduated from college with a good GPA (to make cum laude I needed a 3.622, but ended up with a 3.617, which wasn't bad but still disappointing) and developed positive relationships with professors, some of which I'm certain wrote me great letters of recommendation for law school. I was worried about how I would do on the LSAT, but did well enough to only have to take it one time.

Even though I started taking an anti-depressant over a year before starting law school, depression kicked in and I started unraveling. I tried an increased dosage, but it did nothing. I barely made it through midterms. I hadn't studied enough for some exams, on others I thought I was going to do better than I did, and one in particular I completely blanked out and forgot everything I studied even though I studied the most for it and felt like I had it down. Even though I knew what was needed for me to get on track to do better on my finals, I just couldn't do it. I did as much as I could handle and hoped I would at least scrape by enough to stay in school (though undoubtedly on academic probation), but I spent most of my time sleeping or laying around and then, of course, did poorly on my finals, so my GPA fell below the required minimum to stay in school.

Though I wasn't surprised and thought I'd prepared myself for the inevitable, I was crushed nonetheless. The reality was overwhelming. Going in to law school, I never envisioned things would end up the way they did. I was also humiliated, ashamed, embarrassed, and felt like a loser. I didn't know what to do with myself and thoughts of suicide began immediately. I knew things would get worse. I ran out of money (I didn't work during law school), so I had to give up my apartment and move back in with my mom. I also had to come up with a lie for why I wasn't going back to law school (I didn't have to lie to my mom, but I've had to lie to anyone else who knew I was in law school or who asks what I'm up to).Though I stayed in contact with my law school friends for awhile and hung out with them a few times even after they went back to school, we eventually lost touch, partly because they were busy, partly because I wasn't in their world anymore, partly because they were too far away from where my mom lives, and partly because I became too depressed to leave my house anyway.

My depression has gotten worse and worse. I have completely deteriorated into something I don't even recognize. I don't even feel like a person. I feel like I'm barely alive, barely functioning. I can hardly get out of bed, I can't keep up with the old routines that I was so disciplined with, I've gained so much weight hardly any of my clothes fit, I hardly leave the house or speak to anyone, I cry almost everyday, and I feel guilty, ashamed, angry, hopeless, worthless, and overwhelmed about countless things. I don't know what to do about getting back into school, I don't even know if I should go back to law school or give up and do something else. I feel like I'll probably fail again or at least struggle and have a miserable life no matter what I do. I don't have a job, so I have no money. All I really do is sleep, both because I'm tired all the time and because it's an escape from my problems. I'm always confused, can't remember things, can't think clearly, and can't even articulate myself like I used to. Overall, I'd rather be dead. I hate living like this day after day. It's torture and it's pointless.

My doctor has put me on several medications since September, but nothing has worked. There have been times when I thought I was getting some relief only for the depression to come crashing back down on me. Most of the medications have had no effect, like I might as well not be on any medication at all. One actually made me feel worse. I'm currently taking 2 anti-depressants that are not helping. I wake up every day (though at unusual hours) hoping something will be different, and the fact that it's been almost 10 months of nothing adds another layer to the depression.

How did I get to this place? It's my own fault. I know that my depression started when I was 13 (I'm 25 now). However, I did nothing about it. I haven't written pretty much anything since I left law school, so this will be poorly written, but here's my story/my rant the best way I can put it.

I transitioned from private to public school when I was 10. By 13 (7th grade specifically), public school became too much for me to handle, both because I didn't fit in and because of the things I did to try to fit in and convince myself that I really did. Knowing what I know now, it seems that I had my first major depressive episode at 13, specifically the summer before 8th grade. When my mom realized that things had fallen apart for me (though she did not know the full extent because I didn't tell her everything), she sent me back to the private school I attended before the public school nightmare, to finish 8th grade. Even though I was glad to be back where I came from and felt like I could truly go back to my old self, things were still tough because of the impact and memories of my public school experiences and the guilt, shame, humiliation, and regret over how I chose to cope with my feelings. Though I knew things weren't right with me and that I was unhappy, I didn't say anything to anyone because I didn't want anyone to know what I was going through or what I had done. I pretended that nothing was wrong.

Then, there was high school. I was under a lot of pressure in 8th grade, because I was applying to various private schools for high school. I got into one, but didn't fit in there at all. Going to a new school is already hard on its own, but from the first day, people treated me like I didn't belong and that combined with the feelings I still carried from middle school made things hard. From beginning to end, I felt like a pariah and that everyone thought I was inferior. Because I felt nobody liked me and because I already had low self-esteem coming into high school, I was constantly second-guessing myself, making myself look stupid and freakish because I didn't know how to interact with anyone and so acted oddly and stupidly, not even knowing how to articulate myself because of all the insecurity and not thinking clearly. I stayed quiet and kept to myself as much as possible, but that became an issue too and, from beginning to end, teachers humiliated me in class because I didn't speak. I did make friends and I did have good times, but nothing ever felt right. Truthfully, I was privileged to attend that school and got opportunities that I probably wouldn't have had elsewhere, but knowing that didn't change the way I felt. The longer high school dragged on, the more difficult it was for me to deal with. Knowing what I do now, it seems I had a major depressive episode in 11th grade. Of course, I said nothing to anyone. I stayed home from school a few times because I convinced my mom that I wasn't feeling well, which was true, but not in the way I made her think. I'm a person who gets sick often anyway, so I knew no one would question it. I also began to have trouble concentrating. Somehow I got through 11th grade without any major changes in grades or behavior.

12th grade was more of the same but then got worse. The year started off rough because, knowing what I do now, it seems I had a major depressive episode pretty much as soon as school started. Again, I missed school a few times, telling my mom I felt sick, which, again, wasn't necessarily untrue. When I came back to school, it was hard for me to keep up with assignments. I couldn't concentrate, I wasn't motivated, and I even felt like I couldn't understand the assignments. My adviser pulled me aside at one point, because my history teacher told him that not only did I turn in assignments late but also failed to turn others in at all. My adviser warned that if I didn't get it together, there was a chance I could fail the class and a note would get sent home. Somehow, I did eventually get it together. I ended up with either an A or a B in that class, I don't remember. Unfortunately, there were other problems though. I got into arguments with 2 teachers when I didn't agree with things they said to me. Despite the initial drama and though I did realize I should've handled things differently, I didn't face any serious consequences, perhaps because somebody realized that the teachers actually were part of the problem, not just me. In addition, I began pulling away from people and spent time in places where I could just listen to music and be alone. I ended my friendship with someone who'd been my best friend since the first day of 9th grade and we never spoke again, a decision I question though I thought I had good reason at the time. Also, I remember sleeping even more than usual. Again, I finished 12th grade with no real changes in grades somehow. By the time I finished high school, I knew I was dealing with depression though. As always, I didn't say anything to anyone and pretended to be fine. Not to mention that I thought I was depressed because high school sucked. I hoped things would be different in college.

They weren't. I left home and lived in a dorm room with a roommate. During the first quarter of freshman year, I got hit with all kinds of health problems I never had before and couldn't get an explanation for from anyone at the student health center. I was there all the time and nothing made a difference. There were times when I'd call my mom, crying out of frustration and sometimes out of fear because I didn't know what to do. Again, knowing what I know now, it seems that I ended up having another major depressive episode. I pretty much spent more time sleeping than doing schoolwork, including sleeping until ridiculous hours on the weekend (my roommate had to have concluded something was very wrong with me). I focused on pretty much one class, which I got an A- in, but half-assed another class, which I got a C in, and gave up on the third class, which I got an F in. When it came to the class I failed, I felt like I didn't understand what was going on, started showing up less and less, and then gave up. I hardly studied for the midterm and wrote pretty much nothing, there was 1 paper we were supposed to write, which I never did, and then I never took the final exam. Though it was too late already, I went to the mental health center on campus when I started to realize how badly my grades were going to end up. After the initial appointment when they were just asking me general questions, etc., I had a one-on-one appointment with a therapist, which felt ok. It was the first time I'd told anyone the things I told her, so I wasn't sure how I felt. Of course, my grades were terrible. So terrible that I ended up on academic probation and would get kicked out if I didn't do better the next quarter.

Over winter break, I decided that I would give my schoolwork all that I could and never allow myself to fall apart like I did the first quarter. When I returned to school, I was more conscientious and became fixated on doing whatever I could to get my grades up, and I did. Though I knew by this time that depression was a bigger problem than I thought, I didn't feel the need to go back to the on-campus therapist and I think there were times when I simply didn't want to because I didn't want to talk about anything. I ended up getting straight As in the final quarter of the year. I thought I'd proved to myself that I was capable of being successful, that I was smarter than I felt in high school, and that I just needed to focus and push myself to continue doing well. I did.

That's not to say that the depression went away. It never did. Somehow, though, I managed to find a way to fight through it no matter what it took (and it took a lot). I never got another F or another C again. I got A's and B's, but mostly A's. In my second year, I retook the class I failed and got an A-. Looking back, I wonder if the dead giveaway that I was having a major depressive episode the first time around, is that, as I mentioned, I felt like I didn't understand anything. It just didn't make sense. The second time around, it was almost easy. I even helped a friend study for our midterm. Getting grades that I felt good about gave me even more incentive to fight the depression.

I even managed to do well when things were really hard, aside from the depression. In my second year, I reported a roommate for making racist comments to me. To make a long story short, it was one of the most difficult things I've been through. Despite how difficult it was mentally and emotionally, I managed to get straight A's that quarter, nonetheless. I really thought that it was proof that I'd become a stronger and more resilient person. However, that roommate incident didn't just go away.

It haunted me into the next year, because it was so complicated. I carried a lot of anger because of the racist stuff and the way she behaved toward me, but I also carried a lot of guilt because I wondered if I handled things the right way and if she really deserved to be reported. She and I had gotten really close, had good times together, and confided in each other. There were times when she was truly a good person. It's not like I'm perfect either. I was conflicted about her from then until now. Going into my third year, I was not only unhappy to be back but afraid of having roommate problems again. I had felt for awhile that I did not belong at that school. As always, I didn't fit in. I didn't even have friends. I kept myself isolated. Sometimes, I didn't want friends because I wanted the freedom to do my own thing and because I didn't like the general vibe of the people at the school. Sometimes, I just didn't care one way or another. Sometimes, there were people who wanted to be friends with me, but I didn't want to be friends with them for whatever reason. Then, there were friendships that didn't last (they probably lasted for a quarter, at the most). In my junior year, I isolated myself from my roommates, because not only did we have nothing in common but I was afraid of drama. I have to admit that the roommate situation from before did change the way I felt about the school environment and made me even more unhappy about being there. I was depressed but it didn't impact my grades. I slept more than usual (pretty much all I did on the weekends was sleep and then do schoolwork when I eventually woke up), but still put my schoolwork first. Junior year wasn't too bad but I ended up being able to transfer for my senior year. I did not want to be at that school any longer if I didn't have to.

My senior year was rough, because I was dealing with the depression, as always, on top of the stress and pressure of senior year in general, especially since I took on a minor (one that my previous school didn't have) and had only one year to complete it. Further, I knew that making cum laude was a possibility. Though I'd obviously been struggling with depression all throughout undergrad, the last quarter of my senior year was different. I became really concerned that I was going to fall apart and end up with a repeat of the first quarter of my college career. I alternated between not getting enough sleep and then sometimes missing classes to sleep all day instead. Truthfully, even during times when I wasn't having major depressive episodes, there were days when I'd be too tired to go to class or I just didn't want to deal with it, so I'd miss it and usually sleep all day. However, this never lasted long and I always bounced back to my normal self (whatever that was). This time was different, because I was doing it more often. There was also a point in that last quarter where I felt that I wouldn't be able to keep up with my work. For example, I had a test and a paper due around the same time at one point. I spent so much time agonizing over the paper because it was so difficult that I didn't get to study for the test. Luckily, everything worked out, because I pushed through and, like I've mentioned, I barely missed making cum laude in the end.

However, I became so worried about how I was feeling during that quarter that I did seek help again. Despite the depression always being present, the fact that I could be in my last quarter yet feeling like I'd have a repeat of my first quarter got me to accept that I had a much bigger problem than I thought. I went to Kaiser and started getting therapy. I had a good rapport with the therapist, but only saw her a few times because I wasn't sure if it was really making any difference. The last time I met with her, she set up an appointment with a psychiatrist, because she believed I needed medication. Well, when I met with the psychiatrist, he didn't take anything I said seriously. At one point he said, "I don't what you were expecting coming here." He was adamant that I did not need medication and that it wasn't worth the risk of side effects. He said it was too soon to diagnose me with anything because of my age and that many of the things I said I was feeling are expected of people my age. He also said that he thought my problems stemmed from the difficult experiences I had growing up and that I should go back to therapy.

I was bothered by the fact that the therapist said one thing and the psychiatrist said the opposite. I didn't trust anything they said, so I decided to go to my primary care physician to see what she would say, because I had known her for years and trusted her. I told her what the psychiatrist said and her response was, "So, he didn't get it." She gave me an anti-depressant. Eventually, I felt better. I felt that the depression had been lifted and I was finally free. Because I felt better, I never went back to the therapist or thought about seeing another psychiatrist. I still struggled with irritability, fatigue, and tiredness, but I didn't feel depressed. I thought my problems had been solved. I took a year off before law school and accomplished many things during that year. By the time law school started, I felt ready. Once it started, I felt like I was finally the person I always wanted to be. I was terribly wrong. I lost everything. My life is in shambles.

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  • Dr GaryCA July 6 at 10:40 pm   

    Hi Anonymous, I really appreciate that you shared your story with us. You have been through so much, and you write with such honesty and clarity. I felt very sad for you as I read it. I am a therapist and I have had many clients who, over time, got to a medication regimen that worked for them. It took some trial and error, two steps forward and one step back, but they got to the right regimen. So I encourage you to continue to work with a psychiatrist. But I think that therapy can also benefit someone who is living with depression. I am wondering if you are continuing to see a therapist. If not, I hope you will get connected with one. As the psychiatrist said to you, therapy can help. I don't know if you will benefit from medication or therapy or a combination of both, since I haven't met you. But I do really encourage you to stay connected with mental health professionals. What you are experiencing is treatable. And I hope you will stay in touch with us. Don't go through this alone, my friend.

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