An excerpt from Loud in the House of Myself: Memoir of a Strange Girl by Stacy Pershall, author and member of the Active Minds Speakers Bureau (pp. 133-135). The following excerpt details what it feels like to come to campus and have a bout of severe depression.
I could swear the world was wrapped in a brown cloud the day I left for college. I felt like Pig-Pen in Peanuts, the kid whose vision is always obscured by his own filth. It was late August, with a high, bright sun, and kids were riding their bikes, and people were enjoying the last days of swimming pools and barbecues. I sunk into the backseat of my parents’ packed Mercury, angry at my new comforter for being in a plastic bag that kept sticking to my skin. I could smell the mall coming through the bag, and I thought about the mall and all the people in it, about the act of going somewhere and picking something out and waiting in line to pay for it and listening to other people’s children scream and stomp because they weren’t getting whatever stupid plastic thing had last entered their field of vision. My head pounded.
My roommate-to-be, Lindsay, had called me excitedly the day after I came home from London, bubbling about matching comforters and doing the entire room in black and white, and what did I think about that? I said sure, whatever. Turns out they had black and white bedding at JCPenney, and Lindsay had already picked it out, and it cost blah blah blah, and the sheets were blah blah blah, and beanbags and lamps blah blah. My mom took me to Penney’s and bought me the stuff Lindsay picked out, which made me feel guilty. I did not deserve an education—after all, compared to my friends in England, I was just some ignorant hill person going to an ignorant hill school in an ignorant hill town, what could I possibly have to offer the world? By the time we got to Hendrix, my parents and I were barely speaking—at issue was something about me being an ingrate—and I trudged up the stairs carrying boxes of things I ostensibly needed. I wondered whether it was too late to ask if I could live in a storage room and just sleep on a stack of books.
I was indeed an ingrate, and Hendrix was and still is an amazing school. But my depression obscured the truth. … A depressed person is selfish because her self, the very core of who she is, will not leave her alone, and she can no more stop thinking about this self and how to escape it than a prisoner held captive by a sadistic serial killer can forget about the person who comes in to torture her every day. Her body is brutalized by her mind. It hurts to breathe, sleep, eat, walk, think. The gross maneuverings of her limbs are so overwhelming, so wearying, that the fine muscle movements or quickness of wit necessary to write, to actually say something, are completely out of the question.
Are you in distress and ready to actually say something? Click here or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).