I honestly don’t know where to begin, I guess my depression started when I lost my older brother 3 years ago in September 2014 to gun violence, even though we grew up in different households we were always very close to each other. We have the same father and different mother he was always there for me to talk to about any and everything. Me and Ali were always close but after my brother passed away she started to come back around more , Ali was always there for me when I felt like I had no one to talk to or turn to for advice she was like a little sister and best friend all in one growing up since elementary, middle and high school she grew very close to my family and they grew to love her as one of their own and there all hurt so bad over it we love you, Ali! When I heard the news I cried for days, can’t sleep more than a few hours a day or constraint on anything without thinking about Ali and tearing up and thinking about what happened to my brother all over again just thinking praying when is this going to stop, my life has been in a downward spiral ever since I lost my brother depression is something else I tell you.

– Tavon Brown.

Dealing with Major Depression

I’ve been dealing with major depression my entire adult life. In high school I fought my parents to let me see a therapist, and when I finally saw one before my senior year of high school, I was diagnosed with major depression, OCD, and social anxiety disorder. Senior year was tough — I made excuses to friends as to why I was busy every Tuesday afternoon because I was embarrassed to say I was in therapy. I confided in a few close friends who were supportive, but frankly I was relieved to leave my hometown for a college in a different part of the country. I thought things would change, and that my depression would disappear because I was finally away from my hometown baggage. I was wrong.

I saw a school counselor my freshman year at college, but I was too distracted by the newness of it all to really focus on my mental health. The summer after freshman year, my depression returned in full force. Upon returning to school for the first semester of my sophomore year, I was unable to recognize that my depression had completely incapacitated me. I attempted suicide soon after the semester began — the only reason I survived is because my friends realized there was something wrong with me that night. Afterwards, I dropped out of school and returned home to get the help I so desperately needed.

I went through four different therapists and five different medications before I found the combination that worked for me, and when that happened it was not like magic, it wasn’t like a beam of sunlight breaking through the clouds. It was like trudging up a mountain pass, swamped in mud and ice with an 80-pound weight around my neck. But finally I reached the peak, and started down an easier path. There are still many days that I force myself uphill again, but now my pack is a little lighter, I have the tools to make the going a little easier, and I know that I have loved ones who have and will continue to carry me on days when I just can’t walk anymore. I always start hiking again the next morning. And I’m proud of myself.

—Cates Holderness