In Remembrance: The Battle Against Depression

    In a matter of months, the Denison community has lost two beautiful souls to the battle against mental health. In my time at Denison, I have experienced three losses--one during my freshman year, Wendell Jackson, and two in the past five months of my senior year, Sean Bonner and Tianyue Li.

 

I remember, as a freshman, partaking in a search party for Wendell. I had never met Wendell, but I wanted to be a part of the community search, with hopes to bring him home. Soon enough, my hopes were crushed as we found out that Wendell had taken his own life. As a freshman, who had grown up in a happy, healthy (kind of sheltered) home, I was not prepared for such a tragedy. I don’t think I ever healed from that loss--it was always hovering above me. I couldn’t imagine the pain that Wendell’s parents were experiencing, or the hurt that his friends felt.

This was the first time I began to question Denison’s capabilities to help those suffering.

 

My entire life, I have battled depression and anxiety, so when I started my journey at Denison, I was on the search for a counselor. When I realized that I was only able to get in once every two-three weeks, I left Whisler’s care and searched for an off-campus therapist. See, it worked out for me, but many people can’t afford to visit counselors off-campus. Not only that, but there is a stigma on our campus, as much as we try to fight it, it’s still there. Men aren't given the same respect when searching for help...that needs to change.

I will admit, we have taken strides to improve the environment on campus, but it hasn’t been enough. I was a part of SHARE, Sexual Harassment and Rape Educators, but ended up leaving because, as a survivor of rape, I wasn’t heard. It didn’t matter that I was struggling, no one seemed to care...they just wanted to “look good.” I know that things have changed in SHARE, I don’t mean to "bash" anyone. I just know that when I started my jouney, I wasn't heard like I deserved to be. 

 

The stress that Denison students are under is unfathomable--my friends from other colleges don’t have an understanding of the level of work that we undergo. The majority of my time at Denison has been flooded with stress and anxiety, with the fear that I can never do enough. I can't speak for those that lost their lives, but if they were feeling this stress, on top of the pain they felt inside...well, I couldn't bear to imagine where their hearts were. 

In the fall of 2018, my senior year, we lost Sean Bonner to his battle against depression. I didn’t know Sean either, but I had seen him around campus a few times. He was familiar and a lot of friends knew him. I remember hearing the news and completely shutting down, thinking, “This cannot be happening.” It’s been a few months since we lost him, and even though I didn’t know Sean, I still check his mom’s Facebook page to see the updates about his family. Sean’s mother is an amazing woman, a person with such strength and love, and reading her updates gives me hope that things can change.

That is, until Tuesday night, March 12, 2019, came around. This time, I saw the ambulances, the police, the coroner, pull up on campus. I saw the terror in my friends’ faces and the fear of what we knew had to be true. Another life. Tianyue Li. My roommate, my friends, so many people knew Tianyue--she was in my department of Communication. A third life, gone forever. The heaviness in my chest is back and the pain I feel isn’t subsiding. My prayers are with Tianyue’s family today and everyday for the rest of my life. The same for Sean Bonner and Wendell Jackson. Don’t ever forget.

Please, Denison. Hear me out.

We have to make a change, something must be done.