Aditya Iyer

Modern civilization comes with many benefits, but it fails at what may potentially matter most: aiding those that are less fortunate. This issue can often be seen in the case of mental illness and depression. Too many people do not give mental disorders the credit they deserve, with some even labeling issues, like depression, as a choice and not a “real illness”. With every new day comes another story of a suicide, another case of someone, known or unknown, experiencing psychological trouble that just isn’t given enough importance. Throughout my life, I have witnessed the horrors of depression, not only within friends and family, but within myself.

Mental illness lingers. It isn’t a choice or a mindset that one embraces just for the sake of attention; It has very real symptoms with dire consequences if not addressed. People often don’t recognize the seriousness of mental illness until it is often too late. When I personally struggled with depression, I didn’t do it for attention. When in such a state of mind, things that should have seemed logical no longer made sense to me. The world started to collapse around me, and I felt trapped with no feeling of purpose. While surrounded by people that insisted they were there for me, I felt alone.

To me, depression wasn’t sudden. It didn’t instantly pop up because of one event or another. The process was a slow and gradual tread downhill that felt like a bag of weight on my back that got heavier and heavier as time went on. I gradually lost interested in socializing. My temper would flare suddenly and forcefully. I had diminished myself as an individual and was only pushing myself down further and further.

Perhaps if I had gained the strength to go out and seek help, I would have mentally improved sooner. However, I never convinced myself to seek help. I didn’t think anyone could help me; I felt like my problems were mine alone to deal with, and I couldn’t do anything to fix them. Ultimately, the strength and perseverance of my friends was what brought me back. At my lowest moments, they were by my side, attempting to fix my problems no matter how difficult I made life for them. I would sit at home and try to lock myself in my room to be alone, but my friends wouldn’t let that happen. They would force me to interact and spend time with them, effectively distracting me from my dark thoughts any way they could. At the time, I hated them for it, but now, I realize just how amazing and helpful they really were. I couldn’t have overcome this pain on my own. People were there to bring me up when I was at my lowest, even when I didn’t always appreciate them for it. It was far later that I realized how fortunate I was to have friends like them because not everyone has that privilege.

Living through these experiences has made me realize just how important mental health really is. I don’t want another human being to feel lost and alone in such a way like I was, for everyone should feel valued. More people are starting to realize the importance of health throughout the world, but we still have a long way to go. Many places still lack a proper emphasis on mental health, and I believe it’s time we fixed that.