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The Silent Majority Does Have a Voice

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The Silent Majority Does Have a Voice

If you are feeling depressed and alone, just remember that there are others on campus who can relate.

If you are feeling depressed and alone, just remember that there are others on campus who can relate.

Daniel Codd - Fishy Fotos

If you are feeling depressed and alone, just remember that there are others on campus who can relate.

Daniel Codd - Fishy Fotos

Daniel Codd - Fishy Fotos

If you are feeling depressed and alone, just remember that there are others on campus who can relate.


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By Daniel Joy

If you are feeling depressed and alone, just remember that there are others on campus who can relate. (Courtesy of Julia Comerford)

If we passed each other walking to class on campus, you probably wouldn’t guess that I have clinical depression. If you’ve ever seen me perform in Collins as a member of Fordham’s Stand Up troupe, I doubt you’d assume my iPhone alarm goes off every night to remind me it’s time to take 60 mg of Cymbalta. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever see me posting a Facebook check-in from Fordham’s Counseling Services, nor is it likely that idle chit-chat with my fellow classmates prior to the start of Spanish 2001 will include mention of how the side-effects of my anti-depressant kept me bed-ridden last weekend. However, what I have vowed to do is to share my own experience with depression in the hope it may benefit others who struggle with mental illness like me.

According to a 2013 American Psychological Association survey, up to one third of college students have experienced depression within the last year. This number is a staggering lens into the mental health epidemic inhabiting college campuses across the country. Yet, what I find equally as worrisome as this figure is the fact that the majority of these depressed students will stay silent about their battle with mental illness.

Students with depression do not want to have a difficult conversation with their parents about their symptoms, seek counseling or consult with a doctor about the slate of anti-depressants available for prescription. Instead, this silent majority will suffer in the darkness and they will battle depression alone. Some are kept in the closet for a fear of being branded a “snowflake” by a segment of the populace that stigmatizes something that should be anything but. Others fear confronting the ignorance that keeps putting down the mentally ill in the workplace, the bar and even in the family living room.

For years, I was part of the silent majority. Sure, I was sad and tired all the time, but that felt completely normal for me. While part of my brain made me feel worthless and hopeless, another part of my brain rationalized this thinking as part of the normal ups and downs of life. Even when I got to a point where doing things I once loved brought me no joy and I felt like life was more of a chore than a gift, I still remained silent about my affliction. I feared that telling anyone, whether it be my parents, my friends or my school psychologist, would bring more trouble than it was worth. Would I be branded as crazy? Would I have to miss school? Would going on anti-depressants make me a zombie? I sleepwalked through life as my depression kept me in a cage. I let it dictate when I slept, how I saw the world and how I felt.

Finally, in June of 2017, I had that tough talk with my parents. I revealed a degree of weakness to them and myself that was entirely new. Over the following months, I cried more than I had in the previous eight years combined. After coming clean about my depression, I felt weakened, but for the first time in years I was in control.

Since seeking treatment, I can say without hesitation that my life has been the best it’s been in years. With the help of therapy and medication, my depressive symptoms have become manageable. Depression is still a part of my life, but it is not my entire life. Where there used to be only hopelessness and despair, there is now joy and optimism. If any of these experiences resonate with you, do not stay silent. Depression should not be allowed to impact, let alone control, any aspect of your life.

I was able to get the help I needed, but I constantly worry about the others who remain unable to do so. In writing this, I hope to bring attention to the larger issue of mental illness on college campuses, but my primary prerogative is to reach those suffering in silence.

If you’re a member of the silent majority, I implore you to cast aside the curtain of depression and allow the light of rehabilitation to enter your life. I beg you to have that difficult and awkward conversation with someone who loves you. I pray that you make the dreaded walk over to the basement of O’Hare to book your first appointment with Counseling Services. I urge you to end the silence and put in the difficult work today to ensure your own happiness tomorrow. You may feel alone, but you are not. I left many of you in the shadows when I came clean about my struggles, but we don’t have to be separated if you heed my advice. I’m waiting for you on the other side, and am ready to welcome you with open arms.

Daniel Joy, FCRH ’20, is a political science major from Ellington, Connecticut.

 

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The Silent Majority Does Have a Voice