October 8th is Depression Screening Awareness Day. The story above is told by one of our sisters here at Eta Omega, Alexis Toporowski. Today, one in four people will experience an episode of depression, but 2/3 of those with symptoms will never seek treatment. Often times, so many college students do not seek help due to the stigma around mental illnesses. Depression often is looked at as sadness, grief, weakness, or laziness. But it's time to look at what depression really is…
Two of our sisters decided to share their stories and show us what depression is. Alexis shared her definition of depression; “Depression is five days without a shower or a change of clothes. Depression is eating anything in sight and ordering even more. Depression is skipping classes, ignoring emails, not answering concerned texts and phone calls. It’s feeling alone, when you’re the one who isolated yourself.”
Savannah Frame, a member of Eta Omega, also shared her definition of depression. “Think of the last time you got sick. You know how you just don’t want to be around people when you have the flu or the cold? Your symptoms are so bad, so ugly, you can’t imagine sharing that snotty, stuffed-up version of yourself with someone else. Why would you subject them to that? So, you miss work, you miss class, you fall a bit behind, you stay home for a while. But that’s not you. It is not your own personal choice to be absent from class, it’s because you’re sick. You came down with something, you’re not well. You need time and help to heal, get better, and get back into the swing of things. That’s exactly what depression is like.”
It is possible to find strength and see past the darkness. Savannah said “I didn’t have the strength to seek help and get on plan for recovery until just a few months ago. But now, as I am properly medicated and seeing a counselor on a biweekly basis, I can honestly say that things are okay. And that in and of itself, is progress.”
“So, I’m here. I can see a future. Not in a crystal ball, but I can actually see myself celebrating my 21st birthday. For the first time, I see myself growing up. I have my dog, who will live 15 years, and I’ve thought about being sad when he dies. That means I’ll be here in 15 years.” Alexis said when asked about how she is doing today. “I’m still dizzy. I’m still stumbling. I’m still too tired to go on sometimes, but I’m here. And sometimes, I’m even okay."
Sometimes the hardest step is the first step in getting help. There are multiple resources available for someone who is struggling with this illness. Kappa Alpha Theta has supported those who are struggling with mental illness through Sisters Supporting Sisters. Sisters Supporting Sisters is an initiative to create a safe environment for members to discuss mental illness. The program also encourages Thetas to support and care for one another, especially focusing on emotional and mental health. Sisters Supporting Sisters assists college chapters by providing resources to open up dialogue, guides to recognizing signs of mental and emotional challenges, and ways to help sisters who are struggling.
If you ever are in a crisis, please consider calling Talk One-2-One at 1-800-756-3124, day or night. Saint Louis University also provides counseling located in Wuller Hall Monday-Friday 8:00 am-5:00pm, and hotline to call as well, (314) 977-TALK (8255). Please never be afraid to ask for help and reach out to a friend.
“Love is so much louder than anything this illness can make you believe. Even when it’s hard to love yourself, even when it’s not the easiest thing to see, you are surrounded by faith, hope, and so, so much love.”