Photo: Anthony Tran via Unsplash
Depression kills people. I know because it’s killing me. It kills me to wake up in a strange place where I don’t know anyone. A place where I don’t fit in. A place where it’s difficult to find my footing and adjust to living with people more than five years younger than me.
Sure, the Counseling Center is always an option, but that only goes so far. Sessions only last 50 minutes. What kills me the most is feeling so alone and misunderstood. Feeling like I have this singular experience and no matter how much I try to connect and relate, it’s no use.
It doesn’t work because the priorities of a 27-year-old are different than those of a 20-year-old. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, but it creates an isolation that is hard to describe. It’s not the type of thing where I’m an established adult and I’m coming back to school after putting down roots, starting a family and getting a full-time job. It’s the type of thing where I’m still a young-ish adult so I can relate somewhat but there’s still a disconnect. A disconnection that feels distinctive and isolating. I want to reach out. I want to connect. But at the end of the day I’ll always be that “slightly older person” that nobody wants to hang out with.
When I came to West Chester University, I had never shared a room before. I had never even lived anywhere else besides my hometown. The adjustment has been hard. Really hard. It feels almost surreal, like I don’t belong. But I also feel like this is where I should be. I enjoy my classes. I love my major. But everything else is a big question mark.
Feeling like I belong has always been hard for me. It becomes even harder when you add the isolation of being a non-traditional student living on campus. I’m not the type that goes out to parties. I was doing that when I was 20 and now I prefer to stay home and take a nap. I know I should try to get out more and make friends and enjoy my time here. But I can’t. I get these urges to try. My depression holds me back.
I want to be involved. I want to have friends. I want to have the college experience I was so desperately seeking when I decided to leave my hometown and come here. But there’s something in the way. At times it feels like I am doing this to myself on purpose, but I know it’s not intentional. It feels like I try so hard to do what I need to do but it’s never the “right” thing in everyone else’s eyes. Worrying about what others think isn’t at the forefront of my mind but I also still want to feel like I belong. The reason I left my hometown was to start at new life here at WCU and in the West Chester area.
I’m from Allentown, PA, which is about an hour and a half northeast of West Chester. I decided to leave because honestly, it felt like I had nothing left there. I have a sister and nephew that live there but that was my only real close family left. I felt that a new environment was the best thing for me. But at times I start thinking it might have been the worst.
I don’t mean that I hate it here, because I don’t. I like going to school here. I loved the idea of going someplace new where I could start school again and finally earn a degree. But the constant isolation and loneliness is where I started to question myself. I question whether I can really adjust. Whether I can really make friends. Whether I can make a difference in someone’s life. I want to be that person that is open and happy and free. But my depression, as always, holds me back.
In the past and present, I’ve always felt as though I needed to be the person that is “okay” all the time. The person that nobody has to worry or care about. When I try to reach out about my depression to anyone other than my therapist, the answer is always “you need to go to therapy.” I know that, that’s why I have a therapist. It should be more than that. You shouldn’t have to go through life alone.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that you need to reach out. You need to try. It’s okay if you’re not okay. Isolation is still at the forefront of my mind and experiences, but I do think there is hope for a change. Hope for some long-lasting connections. My depression was killing me. And maybe still is. But there’s a chance I can survive.
Bryanna Miller is a third-year student majoring in media and culture. BM9423494@wcupa.edu