"No, Angie, not here. Don't cry. You're going to ruin everyone else's night," I thought. Between breaths, I kept telling myself, "Don't be weak, don't be weak." I picked my head up to see if anyone had been staring. Tears started to blur my vision of the college kids standing around in huddles. Without another thought, I ran as fast as I could, leaving their drunken laughter.
It might come as a shock to people close to me, but I've been battling with depression for the past two years. Those of you who know me might see me as the bubbly, enthusiastic and sometimes shy Angie, but that’s only half the story.
I've always been taught to live by a "the show must go on" mentality, so I’ve done a pretty good job of concealing my anxiety and going through the motions. I've done my best to gather up all my courage to keep my composure. However, a couple of months ago I found myself outside a bar struggling withshortness a breath and what felt like a scream about to erupt from the depths of my lungs. I knew I was on the verge of an anxiety attack.
Once I made it back to my car, I let loose the scream. I cried for an hour until my older brother found me. I felt ashamed and embarrassed they must have been scared when they realized I was missing. They asked me what was wrong. I opened my mouth, but words wouldn't come out. Finally I croaked, "I want pizza, do y'all want pizza? I'm buying."
Confused, they followed me to the carb haven that caters to those trying to sober up. I ate quietly, staring straight ahead. I felt my exterior shell come back. I was angry at all the torture I was putting myself through, but I had no idea how to stop.
I was the designated driver, so I drove us home. Tears were spilling as I tried my best to suffocate the sobs. My older brother spent the car ride trying to give me a pep talk. When we arrived home, I gave him a hug and went to my room to cry myself to sleep. The truth was that at this point in my life, it was normal for me to cry at least once a day.
Three hours later, I sensed that my mind was awake, though my body was still asleep. I could feel myself still crying and shaking. I couldn't muster a yell loud enough but the audible call reached my mom. She came and ask what was wrong. “Mom, I don't feel well," I sobbed. And then as if I had been electrocuted, I dashed from my bed and began to vomit.
I called in sick from work that morning and slept in. But when I finally did wake up, I decided I needed to make a drastic change. I needed to take action, because if I didn’t, this depression would kill me. I couldn't go on like this.
As cliché as it sounds, for the past two years I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster. It’s difficult to talk about depression because the burden becomes heavier when you worry of what others think. I now know that many amazing young women struggle with anxiety and depression in silence, and if we continue to avoid talking about this growing epidemic, the more it will consume and paralyze us. I want you to know you’re not alone. In this three-part series, I will share my journey of how I finally took control of my life.