Depression is a much more serious problem at Carmel High than some might assume.
With suicide reported as the third-highest cause of death among American youth aged 10-24, it’s clearly a national issue. But at CHS, while suicide is not nearly as prevalent as other forms of self-harm, depression is still common among students.
Kate Miller, the support counselor at CHS, states that there are always a few students each year that deal with clinical depression.
“Being a teenager, a high school student, is a really difficult thing,” she says. “Learning how to facilitate and work with those emotions is the healthiest way to deal with adolescent sadness or depression.”
A freshman girl comments on living with the illness: “It’s such a gross thing, like having this hugely heavy weight that you’re dragging around all the time. I constantly feel hopeless, and so tired.”
Active, studious and surrounded by people who care, she wonders why she can’t feel satisfied or happy.
“I feel so ungrateful. I have this great family, friends, everything. But I also feel like there’s nothing here for me. I’m always hating myself for it. I really do intend to start seeing a therapist, but talking about it isn’t easy for me.”
A senior girl with depression notes, “I hate that I feel this way. I don’t want anyone else to feel this way. If you want to hurt yourself in any way, please get help. It’s not worth it.”
This senior describes her depression as overwhelming. Previously a devoted student, she now finds herself questioning both her ability and future when she’s at school.
“I’ve been seeing a doctor for a while, and that’s been helpful. But medication and therapy doesn’t necessarily equate to happiness in a person.”
A junior boy suffering from depression elaborates that “medication can help you get through the day. I can get my homework done, and avoid feeling completely miserable. But I’m also not truly happy. It’s a weird sort of numbness, almost.”
Adolescent girls are particularly likely to suffer from depression and attempt suicide, according to the CDC. Yet 81 percent of successful teenage suicides are completed by males. With about 5.1 million—or 8 percent—of young people in America having attempted suicide, the human toll of mental illness is massive.
Senior Annabelle Scott speaks of her experience with severe-extreme depression, general anxiety disorder and attention deficit disorder openly and emphatically.
“I think the craziest thing about depression, suicidality in particular, is that you don’t really see yourself having a future,” Scott says. “You’re so focused on getting through every minute of the day that thinking about college—hell, thinking about next Tuesday—is unbearable.”
Scott, now making plans to attend college next year and actively participating in CHS culture, was hospitalized last year for a suicide attempt and, after one of the hardest semesters of her life, spent the rest of her junior year studying independently.
“It’s a harsh reality that the grades I earned during the hardest time of my life will significantly affect a college’s decision to accept me,” she says. “Academic success was made incredibly difficult as a result of my depression. There were days when I would come home right after school and sleep all the way until morning because of the energy it took just to show up to school every day.”
As for advice, Scott urges anyone who is struggling with mental health to speak up immediately.
“Talk to someone. Whether it’s a teacher you trust, the school psychologist, me or your parents, talk. I didn’t talk to anyone until I was lying in a bed in the emergency room with a security guard outside watching my every move to ensure I didn’t hang myself with an IV or something horrible. I wish I had known I didn’t have to feel that way for so long. I wish I’d reached out for help, but I didn’t.”