One of the Lucky Ones

Story by Ronnie Kaufman

I’m one of the lucky ones. I consider myself extremely lucky because I’ve managed to deal with a personal, uphill battle that many college students struggle with: depression.

It all started for me sometime in high school, but I don’t remember a lot of it clearly.

I lost interest in my friends and activities; I spent a lot of time feeling sad, but I wasn’t really sure why; I would go home every day after school and eat a snack, turn off the lights, take a Benadryl, and sleep; there were times where I took just the right amount of pills to worry those around me, but not go to the hospital.

There were definitely periods of ups and downs, trials of medications, and a few different therapists during those up and down times.

For the first few months of college, I felt fine. But then, I started to feel different again – I lost interest in the new friends I had made, and I didn’t really feel attached to the organizations I was in. Maybe it was a combination of classes that I wasn’t excited about, being far from home, a total lack of things to do, or a series of rejections from teams, sororities, and jobs that I perceived as failures on my end.

Whatever the cause, I went to the Psychological Counseling Services and started seeing one of the therapists there. It definitely helped, and contrary to popular opinion, they asked if I wanted to continue after eight sessions, and we did – it was more of a checkpoint than anything else.

When I finally felt okay to stop, a few weeks later I had an episode where my parents (and I) were worried about my safety. Luckily, my parents have always been my biggest supporters and I was able to go home for a week. I came back not knowing if I would return to Chapman for my sophomore year, but I was determined to finish out my freshman year, at the very least.

I decided to return to Chapman, and everything seemed to change. I met with an amazing therapist over the summer who changed my outlook on a lot of things; I found more friends who supported me; I joined a sorority that’s provided best friends and things to do; I got a job that I enjoy; and I started taking more classes that I was actually interested in.

One of the most important things I’ve learned is that I’m not alone in these feelings. In a 2011 nationwide survey conducted by the American College Health Association, an astounding 30 percent of college students admitted to feeling “so depressed that it was difficult to function” at some point during the year. If we’re applying those numbers to Chapman, this means that three out of every ten students suffers from depression.

Depression, unfortunately, isn’t an exact science. There isn’t a perfect medication, or an amount of therapy that will ‘cure’ it. It’s still something I struggle with, and actively have to work at.

Not everyone has the support, resources, and circumstances that helped me. There are several different outcomes, and many are extremely unfortunate – suicide is the third leading cause of death for teenager and young adults.

The positive though, is that some of these uphill battles turn out okay – and often leave you stronger than before.