Hit or Miss

Anil Dash writes about mental illness and depression today and asks that others share their own experiences as well.

With the rising rates of depression among college students, working in Residence Life can sometimes seem like an even more taxing job than it was before — especially if you sometimes struggle with tough times yourself. But fortunately, I’ve got friends and colleagues to help me through when I’m blue.

I’ve never had any formal diagnosis of depression. Coming out seven years ago did wonders to clear up the problems I faced growing up. But I still struggle, like an ever-increasing number of Americans, with self-esteem issues and with making connections with others in today’s fast-paced world. Working in a job where I try to help others, it can be too tempting to ignore my own problems.

I’ve sometimes thought about seeing a professional, but I felt silly worrying about what I considered to be minor problems compared to some of the ones I saw through my job — and add to that my natural reticence about opening up to others. But finally, a few weeks ago, I talked with a campus counselor after facing some tough student issues in my building. It was amazing to me how easy it was to open to her and share what was on my mind. It’s been helpful to me in opening up to my friends recently about the hopes and fears I have about my upcoming job search.

I bought Andrew Solomon’s The Noonday Demon a few months ago but didn’t feel up to reading it yet. Looks like it may be about time.

1 response so far (Respond)

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Matt, thanks for being so brave with this post. I think most people who seek treatment for mental illness say, “oh, but some people have it so much worse!” I’ve heard that sentiment mentioned a few times already in response to what I wrote.

All that matters is your personal wellness, in that regard. There are people with far more serious cancers than some small tumor, but I don’t know of anyone who’d try to work through a little cancer on their own.

At any rate, your message makes a difference, and I hope it’s part of the steps you take to ensuring that you stay well. I can’t imagine anyone with your identity and personality being in the social situation that you are and *not* being depressed sometimes. But it’s a problem that’s well within your abilities to manage.

Anil | 27 Oct 2002