By Michael Quijano
Depression has cast a shadow over my family for a long time. My father, my sisters, my aunt, and myself have all been a victim to it. People that know me very well are often shocked when I tell them that I’ve suffered from depression before. You would think that because I have bubbly personality and I smile all time that I’m always happy. That has not always been the case.
In 2007, I was a teenager living a mundane life in a small sleepy town. I had always known that I was different from most boys my age. During that time, I wasn’t accepting of that fact. I had friends that understood me but the lingering doubt that my family and other people would not be as accepting held me down. In time, I was coated in my negative thoughts to the point I didn’t recognize who I was any more. That was my depression.
One day after school I came home to an empty house. I immediately went to the kitchen to fix myself something to eat. Before I started, I noticed my mother’s kitchen knives. I picked one up and gazed at the stainless steel in my hand. I thought about how easy it would be to slash my wrists deep enough and watch as the crimson liquid slowly pour out of my body. My appetite had dissipated and in that moment was me and the knife. I could have ended my life right then and there. I just needed to act on it.
I didn’t though. I didn’t even cut myself. I started to think about what life would be like for my family afterwards. How would they feel? Would they miss me? I realized that no matter what kind of person you are, whether they accept you or not, your family will always love you. At least that is how I hoped my family felt.
As I said before, depression has been in my family. My aunt Aida, who I have never met, committed suicide at 17 years old. My father would tell me stories about how she was a pageant queen and how she taught him to stay devoted to his faith. She was the hope for a poverty stricken family in El Salvador. I wish I had the pleasure of meeting the woman that my father loved and looked up to. Even though she seemed happy and had a strong faith, it wasn’t enough to keep her from her taking her own life. My father said that she had never shared her pain with my family so they were never given the specific reason why she chose to end her life. Only by observing the way she acted and what some of her friends had said about her, they could rule that depression played a role in her suicide. To this day, my father still looks up to her, and remembers how she lived.
Depression is more than just saying you’re sad and depressed. It’s a feeling of emptiness that can never be filled. It’s laying down on a bed never wanting to get up because you are feeling hopeless. It’s being tired and not interested in anything related to fun. It’s not eating even though you are hungry. It’s having sleepless nights. It’s cutting yourself because that is the only way you can feel something. It’s looking at yourself in the mirror and hating the way you are. It’s a war with yourself that you will never win.
I’ve accepted the fact my depression was real. It wasn’t phase. It wasn’t a cry for help or attention. It was a real part of me. If I had died, I wouldn’t be enjoying my life right now. I wouldn’t have more friends than I ever had before. I wouldn’t have such a wonderful relationship with my family that I never thought was possible. I would not have experienced all those things if I had given in to my depression and killed myself. I know other people haven’t been as fortunate as I am. I’m not saying getting over my depression happened over night. It took a long time to get over it. Just because you don’t get into the college you wanted, or the person of your dreams rejects you, or if the world will not accept you for who you are that doesn’t mean you are a nobody. You are somebody. You are important because someone out there cares for you and will listen to your story. I am the person willing to listen to what you have to say.