How I Live with Depression in College

I was 19 years old when I was diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder (PDD). To me, this was a horrible thing because I had seen what depression had done to my family. At the time of my diagnosis, I felt defeated. I had completely lost complete control of the person I wanted to be. No one had taken the time to explain to me what those three words meant nor even what it meant for my own life. When I moved to Seattle five years ago, I took the time to find out what it meant and how I could cope with having PDD.

 

What is PDD?

Persistent depressive disorder (PDD) is characterized as being a “continuous long-term form of depression,” according to the Mayo Clinic. In fact, my therapist told me that the main difference between PDD and major depressive disorder is the risk of suicide. At 19 years old, I wasn’t thinking about depression being continuous nor was I even thinking about the ways it would affect my education. I was thinking about how my family would now compare me to my mother, who suffers from major depressive disorder. The other difference that I found out about was that medication helps PDD more than it helps major depressive disorder. 

 

How I Cope

Whenever people say “selfcare is the best care,” this is especially true for someone like me. One day I could feel fine and the next, I will stay in my bed and watch as I fall behind in my schoolwork. At every moment, I have to attentive for all of my triggers. This is especially hard to do when I don’t know them all, which is why I journal. 

One of the first things I learned to do while in therapy was to keep track of every time I felt depressed. This wasn’t at all easy as I had been living with PDD for so long. I thought it was completely normal. This helped my therapist figure out what the next course of action was for my treatment. That’s when my service animal came into the picture. His job is mainly to keep me occupied. When I feel a trigger coming on, I focus all of my attention to him, or he will focus all of his attention on me. That isn’t even a perfect system, so I also take antidepressants while I work on a routine that best fits my needs. I also try to keep up with all the latest research about what types of things I should add to my routine that will help me.

If you have depression or think you have depression, talk to your primary care physician or an on-campus counselor. Never be afraid to ask for help. Depression can impact your schoolwork and social life. College is supposed to be a time to make new friends and memories. Don’t let it hold you back from your potential.