Article by Oksanna Shulgach | Photography by Julia Morris | Owl Staff

Depression feels like a blanket of grey clouds that refuses to let in even a sliver of light. A gloomy haze plagues my mind, making me feel like I’m not good enough.

To make things worse, I have experienced a stigma in society concerning depression and other mental illnesses. I have been told it is all in my head, or I just have to “think positively.”

It just isn’t that simple.

Depression needs treatment, and a very accessible form of treatment is Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on changing any unhealthy ways of thinking and detrimental behaviors.

Dr. Shreya Hessler, Psy. D, founder of The MINDset Center in Bel Air says, “If a college student is considering therapy for the first time, they should take time to talk with a prospective therapist about their qualifications and their areas of specialty. Therapy can be a useful resource for anyone.”

While therapy has helped me grow and cope with my issues, I have encountered another stigma that exists in our society; mental health issues reflect a weak will or a broken mind.

This is not true at all, and depression, like any other mental illness, is a real disease.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states, “It is a real illness. It is not a sign of a person’s weakness or a character flaw. You can’t ‘snap out of’ clinical depression. Most people who experience depression need treatment to get better.”

“[Depression] is a real illness. It is not a sign of a person’s weakness or a character flaw.”

And just like any disease, it can also be treated. “Depression, even the most severe cases, can be treated. The earlier treatment begins, the more effective it is,” according to the NIMH.

In the same way an athlete may need physical therapy to heal an injury, the mind needs to go through a similar process.

An HCC college student who has gone through her own struggle with mental illness, Eliada Pearl, believes that mental illnesses are “harder to understand because you can’t see emotional hurt like you see an injury.”

But the first step to getting help is not therapy, it is understanding that there is a problem in the first place. HCC student Hailee Domich believes in accepting and seeking help.

“I think the most important part is realizing you have a mental issue and instead of internalizing, using that as motivation to seek help,” Domich says.

Simply talking out my issues has helped me think differently. Therapy can also help in developing thought-processing strategies for when a mental illness attempts to cloud my own judgement.

I know that I would not be where I am today if I didn’t have someone to talk to. Therapy, friends, and family have all helped me cope; all I had to do was reach out.

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