A week into August, I knew something was different.
It was as if I was looking at senior year through sea glass — a deep, blurry blue. I found myself uninterested in being with people and tearful at every temperature change — which is to say, I felt depressed.
It is easy to make assumptions about other students, as if they live inside UNC pamphlets, frozen in postures of perpetual Frisbee joy.
Believing this fiction makes vulnerability difficult.
While I was walking down Cameron Avenue with a classmate last year, she described sadnesses I never could have guessed. We’d sat beside each other for months, but it was that mutual admission — that life, even at a place we love, can be painful — that allowed for a close friendship.
Months later I, in turn, felt comfortable expressing discontentment to her. She was sympathetic but able to point me toward epicenters of goodness: Remember that late night we ran and plunged into the lake? And I was reminded of the purpose of community — of this community.
Acknowledging depression doesn’t solve anything straightaway. Some days I wake up eager to welcome daily life. Other days, I have to spoon-feed myself perfunctory rituals (eat toast, go to class). Mornings become a complicated emotional calculus.
But acknowledging it is also a relief. When we let our walls down, we are better equipped to both offer and receive help.
A 2009 study reports that 30 percent of college students felt so depressed that it was difficult to function. Psychologists say that one of the roots of depression is rumination, the process of obsessively recycling thoughts.