Thrive on Campus//

When Depression Looks Like Shyness

Depression is more than just feeling sad.

Welcome to our new section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus.) We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.

To others, I seem shy. When I sit all alone in the corner of a room, lost in my own head, staring blankly at the ground, nobody questions it. I imagine what they must think of me:

“Why is he on such a high horse?”

“Antisocial.”

“He must not like us.”

“Look at that loser with no friends.”

Notice the trend?

To others, I seem shy, even rude, but really I am brawling inside with my own self, fighting against my inner demons that pound critical comments of rejection and worthlessness into my brain. Miraculously, I am able to keep my head just above the water but my arms and legs will eventually give out from all of the violent kicks and pulls from my four limbs. I will feel the water slowly climb above my chin and drown out the weeping that exits through my mouth. I will feel the full weight of my body slip under and conclude there is no point in fighting the battle anymore as I have already lost. I’ll allow the demons to drag my limp, lifeless body further under the surface of the ferociously rushing waters. I’m able to imagine their cheers and high fives of triumph for completing yet another successful mission.

However, their celebrations cease once they catch sight of my eyes that have flickered open, seeing a rope that is just within reach. My aching arms barely extend far enough from my side to clamp onto the twisted manila rope. Somehow, I am able to see and feel the frays of nylon reaching out and wiggling around from the waves above in my oxygen-deprived state. Suddenly, a forceful lug of the rope occurs and my flaccid body surfaces. Life rushes back into my body as I gasp for air. My body shivers in the cold as water droplets fall from my sopping wet hair onto the solid ground. My fingertips, which resemble old prunes, claw into the rigid ground for stability as my chest violently heaves up and down, attempting to fill my lungs with the outside air.

Wearily, I roll myself, wet clothes and all, onto my back and feel the impact of each individual vertebrae with the solid concrete underneath me as I lay erect. Above me is a beautiful blue sky filled with clouds that resemble the most perfectly popped popcorns you only find every few years in a movie theatre. My eyes get lost in the beauty and the wonders of what exists outside of our terrifying and destructive human realm. Feelings of hope fill my body and allow my violently rising and falling chest to return to a state of stability, as does my once-pounding heart. Excitement fills every cavern of my frame as I am able to envision living a life of happiness, free of suffering.

Unfortunately, my eyes flicker and I am back in the same monotonous room I was in before. This is the endless film that runs through my mind as I sit alone in that corner. I am not shy but struggling to cope with the variety of emotions that occupy my empty yet chaotic mind. I implore for somebody to notice my pain and loneliness but nobody does and I’m forced to walk out of the crowded room the same way I entered: alone.

Originally published at themighty.com.

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More on Mental Health on Campus:

What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need

If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help

The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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