I believe in asking for help.
When I was younger, silence and solitude were my two favorite things, but they were also my worst enemies.
My junior year of high school was a difficult time for me. Before the year even started, my varsity volleyball coach sent a letter to my parents with disheartening comments about my fluctuating teenage weight. This pressure along with regular friendship drama and the idea of impending college applications seemed to wear on me more than everyone else. I felt detached from everyone around me. I bottled everything up inside and became very good at faking smiles. I would spend family gatherings on the computer rather than talk to my cousins. I often locked myself away in my room on weekends rather than getting together with friends because I was too tired both emotionally and physically to spend time with anyone. I wanted to be alone but that only made things worse. I couldn’t remember a time when I didn't have that numb feeling in my chest. It was then I realized the emotions I was facing were not those of a typical teenager.
One night over winter break, I was curled up in bed, sobbing, when my mom came through my door. My initial response was to hide my tears from her, but something deep inside of me decided it was finally time to ask for help. I turned over and looked her straight in the eye. Alarmed, she tried to uncover the reason behind my tears, but I didn't have an answer for her. As I lay there in my mother’s arms, we both agreed I should try therapy.
That was my pivotal moment.
A few weeks later, I had my first session with Dr. Victoria. I wasn't sure how it was going to help because I was terrible at articulating my feelings, let alone sharing them with others. But Dr. Victoria was a miracle worker. Slowly but surely, with her eccentric free spirit and the help of a low dose of anti-depressants, Dr. Victoria helped me to open up. She affirmed that my everyday anxieties, fears, and frustrations were real. I no longer felt like I was the cause of all my problems.
I had bi-monthly sessions with her for about a year and a half until I left for college. I sat in that same ugly, but incredibly comfortable, navy blue chair more times than I can count, learning to open up to others rather than bottling up my emotions.
I like to think Dr. Victoria saved me.
With her help, I returned to my happy-go-lucky self. Now, four years later, people are surprised when they hear my story. They can’t believe the positive girl with the constant smile has a history of depression. I’m always willing to share my story when I find someone dealing with similar issues. Like everyone else, I still have my sad days, but I’m nothing like the person I was back then. Asking for help was the best decision I ever made. I believe in asking for help.
Essayist Lauren DeLancey is a junior at Penn State University Park studying nursing.