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Elise Jamison Headshot

This Is What Depression Really Feels Like

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As teenagers, we love to exaggerate. Every good day is the best day ever. Every bad day was the worst thing that has ever happened to anyone, anywhere, ever. That girl in my third period totally cussed me out for like no reason at all. (Okay, she told me to stop talking so much, then rolled her eyes. hehe...)

You guys get the point I'm sure. But as we become more educated as to what mental illnesses are and who they impact, it seems like every teen with Twitter has a PhD in psych. The second we have too much caffeine before school and can't focus in calc, we totes have ADHD. Oh, your friend doesn't like when her room is messy? Oh my God, complete obsessive compulsive freak. God forbid we have a day where everything goes wrong. Clearly we are clinically depressed. These exaggerations may seem harmless but they are desensitizing us to, and sometimes even inadvertently making fun of, actual mental illnesses. You may think you are just tweeting something in a moment of angst (we all have them), but you could be hurting someone in the process. We need to get some real info on this subject, and stop diagnosing ourselves and each other at the drop of a hat.

So let's learn a little bit.

I am going to talk about a disorder I have a lot of experience with. I have seen so many of my peers tweet about how depressed they are and they're lives are so awful blah blah blah. Yes. We all have bad days. I get it. But depression is defined as severe despondency and dejection, felt over a period of time and accompanied by feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy. There is a humongous difference between temporary sadness and dissatisfaction with your life, and the sinking desperation that is depression. It sucks when you don't fit in and you are lonely, but that isn't depression. Depression is the dark emptiness you feel that makes you believe you can contribute nothing to anyone or anything. You feel like your life means nothing to anyone.

My inspiration for this article was frustration. I was diagnosed at age 14 with depression, and I am so frustrated with all of the people around me who cannot differentiate between angst, PMS and mental illness. I have worked so hard in the last couple years to overcome this illness and it is still a daily battle. It took me years to even be able to acknowledge that I mattered and realize that people cared about me. There is nothing more frustrating than someone who says they are clinically depressed because they are feeling sad that day. It devalues the struggle I and so many others have endured. And to all of the incredibly ignorant people out there who think just because someone has a nice family, cushy home and pretty belongings does not mean they can't be depressed -- they lack the chemical serotonin in their brain. It has nothing to do with the fact that they wear Ferragamos or Target flip-flops.

Essentially, my point is that we need to realize the severity of this and many other mental disorders. They really do hurt people, so I implore you to stop treating them so casually. Furthermore, if you recognize yourself in this article, seek help. Visit the crisistextline.org for compassionate help via text if you are contemplating suicide, or contact the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Your school guidance counselor is also there for a reason.

If bad days turn into weeks, which turn into months, tell someone. But don't freak out over one daily mishap.