Behind the Scenes:

Depression and Anxiety, continued.

Go back and read about what anxiety and depression are, and how they affect the students

Photo of Stairwell at Glore Psychiatric Museum in St. Joseph, MO. Photo by Ava Schlotfeld

Depression and anxiety are two of the most commonly known and experienced mental health disorders. Even though they are some of the most commonly known, not everyone recognizes the signs and symptoms, nor does everyone experience the same signs and symptoms. 

On a day-to-day basis with my own, personal depression and anxiety, I’ve experienced a variety of symptoms ranging from fatigue to thoughts of suicide or death. When some of it started, I believe it presented itself as “shyness” when in reality it was some social anxiety which I experience the worst when talking to new people or presenting in class, which could also go with speaking in front of crowds. Even presenting to a class with five other students, all of which I know well, is difficult. I get self-conscious of stumbling over my words, how my mouth moves, how my voice sounds, I get worried that I’ll stutter, which oftentimes ends up just making me stutter more. When you’re presenting, the class looks at you and all eyes are on you, and that’s hard to accept and not get anxious about when you have a bad body image and are insecure about how you look. I start to feel hot and my heart feels like it’s beating out of my chest, and sometimes my hands even begin to tremble when I give presentations, and oftentimes my coping mechanism in those situations is just to laugh off my little mistakes to cover up how anxious I am. People see me laugh or smile and shake my head on nearly a daily basis, and that’s usually my cover-up. I avoid making eye contact during one on one conversations to help subside my anxiety, but that has been something I’ve been getting better with. 

I’m seen as a student that almost always gets things turned in on time, and that’s mainly because I have anxiety that is connected with being late or turning in things late. When I’m getting close to being late to school, or at least my definition of late, my stomach starts to feel sick. Once the time hits 7:46 AM, if I’m not getting my bookbag and computer, my stomach churns, my heart starts to beat harder, and sometimes I begin to feel hot. I feel insecure when sitting alone so my leg bounces, but I also get insecure when I’m sitting with a group of people because my mind immediately begins to compare myself to everyone and I usually end up feeling bad about myself. 

With depression, I’ve experienced wide ranges of depressed and sad moods, usually holding off my emotions until after school, but every so often they become too much and my emotions burst out in class. I don’t like crying at school, but there are times when there is no stopping it. I wouldn’t say that I’ve lost interest in activities I used to partake in, but I just don’t have the motivation to get up and do things like I used to. All I really want to do during a depressive episode is lay in bed and do nothing. Usually, I’ll get on my phone and attempt to distract myself or just keep myself busy, but I rarely get up from bed because I don’t have the motivation to and I become extremely fatigued, I feel tired, but I’m unable to sleep. Many of my depressive episodes consist of fatigue and the loss of motivation, but there are also occasionally some that get to the point where I feel like I have no worth and feel as though others around me either wouldn’t notice or would be happier if I were gone. Those thoughts definitely aren’t easy thoughts to get rid of, and usually, there isn’t a way to get them to go away, you just have to wait them out which is extremely difficult and it’s unbelievable how many people go through the exact same thing. 

It helps to be at school where [others] can distract me.”

— Anonymous

An anonymous student at David City High School allowed me to share some of their experiences with depression as well. Their depression shows up mainly when something happens to them, or when they have no distraction so they do their best to keep themselves distracted by having the tv going or playing video games.

“With my depression, [when] I think about any bad things [happening] to me, even if they are very small things, I’ll start crying,” the student said. “Whenever I get sad because of something, my thoughts get dark and find things in my memory [to] support that I did something wrong and that [I’m] a terrible person even if [the thing that made me sad was] little.

Over summer, they had a constant terrible feeling in their chest due to being stuck in their room with their thoughts over the quarantine. They had no motivation to do anything, so all they did was lay in their bed.

“It helps to be at school where [others] can distract me,” the student said.

It also helps many people that struggle with anxiety and depression to know that there are others out there that experience similar things and that they aren’t alone. It’s important to know that there are people out there that you can share your experiences with to get any stress, anxiety, or depression off of your shoulders.