(Editor’s note: This story is the seventh part of a multi-part series “Mind Wars,” examining the struggles of the mental illness, depression, that began with Issue #7 and concludes in Issue #12. Several staff members took it upon themselves to interview, take photographs and conduct research. The results of their combined efforts follow.)
by NICOLE TRUGILLO/Editor-in-Chief
Imagine struggling with your mind every day to control your thoughts.
Having to deal with controlling the dark thoughts along with anxiety can take a toll on someone’s body.
Depression can happen in different ways, according to Jayme Lozano, a junior at Texas Tech University. Lozano attended South Plains College and graduated in the spring of 2014 with an Associate’s Degree in Print Journalism.
She says that depression is battle, and she faces obstacles every day because of it.
Lozano grew up in Levelland and attended Levelland High School. She noticed when she was 15 years old that she had symptoms of depression.
“I shook it off because I thought it was a hormonal teenager going through a phase,” says Lozano. “And it wasn’t until I was 19 that I realized these feelings were not going away.”
In high school, Lozano was having a hard time shaking off the thoughts she was having. She says she tried to ignore the thoughts going on in her mind. But, it wasn’t until she was 21 when she realized she couldn’t deal with it alone. So she sought out a therapist.
“I’m trying to deal with [my depression] by going to therapy,” explains Lozano. “I have to take medication, and the thought of both of those things really humbles me. Because the first time I tried to see a therapist, it took a lot for me to go there and talk to this person.”
Lozano says after her first session with the therapist, he told her he didn’t think he was a good fit for the help she needed.
“That’s fine,” says Lozano. “I understand that happens. But it set me back and made me not want to do therapy again. It took me years to even think about going again. Now I’m going, and I go every week and it helps, because my therapist is teaching me how to rationalize my thoughts and teaching me to calm myself down if I feel myself having a panic attack.”
According to Lozano, she knew the difference between being depressed and sad in high school. She says someone could be sad for a few days. But the difference is whenever someone is sad for months.
“When I was in high school, it was a thing to say, ‘I’m depressed,’” explains Lozano. “I wanted to hurt myself but my friends, my classmates, they were just saying it to say it. When I hear them say it, I would get mad because I would think that I am really upset, and I’m having these thoughts that are scaring me. That’s where the difference comes in, a time period and being able to rationalize your thoughts better.”
Lozano says her symptoms include having trouble sleeping, along with increasing anxiety and paranoia. She also battles with controlling her thoughts and battling through her fears.
“I would go to sleep at night, and I was afraid something bad was going to happen,” explains Lozano. “I was afraid someone was going to break in, hurt me, and kill me. I knew it was irrational, and knowing that hurt me even more because it made realize I can’t control my thoughts.”
During the day, Lozano says she can sleep constantly, not because she wants to or she’s lazy, but because either one of two things are happening to her.
“Either I’m having a bad day and I can’t convince myself to get out of bed, because if I get out of bed I feel I’m going to hurt somebody,” Lozano explains with tears running down her face, “and I’m going to cause some type of trouble. I don’t like feeling like a burden or an inconvenience. So, on those days, I feel that it’s better to just stay in my room and just be alone. It’s either that, or I get up and go to my class for a little bit, and put up this act like I’m OK. The act takes so much out of me.”
Lozano explains she hates taking her pills to deal with her depression and going to therapy to control her thoughts because she feels that normal people don’t have to do that.
“They can go on with their lives and have stuff happen and not be a big deal,” explains Lozano. “I can’t, and it’s gotten easier now because I have exercises I’m supposed to do that help me calm down. It’s still a huge battle.”
After high school, Lozano says it was a lot easier to block herself off from everyone because she wasn’t going to college and she wasn’t working. Nobody would notice her because she was quiet. So it was easier for her to block herself off.
“I wasn’t around people enough for them to notice that something was really wrong,” explains Lozano. “The biggest thing that came with it is I have these thoughts that I know don’t make sense. I still have them, and I treat them as if they are rational, and I treat them like a real fear. I can’t manage to shake those off.”
Lozano says on a good day she can wake up, yet still struggle getting out of bed. She says she manages to convince herself to get out of bed and work on a project she enjoys, or see someone she really wants to talk to.
“I have people in my life that whenever I see them and talk to them, I’m happy,” explains Lozano. “I tell myself I got out of bed today because I got to talk to this person, and those people make the good days outweigh the bad.”
According to Lozano, someone who is battling with depression can’t deal with it alone. She says that people shouldn’t be ashamed about needing help, so they need to have a good support system.
“At first, I didn’t want to go to therapy, because it’s embarrassing to say that I don’t have control over my own thoughts,” explains Lozano. “Because that is something you should have something control over. So you can’t be ashamed to need help. You can’t be ashamed to go to a therapist, can’t be ashamed to take a pill every single day if it’s going to stop you from hurting yourself or causing damage to the people you love. That’s what makes me mad. People wouldn’t be ashamed feeling this way if there wasn’t a huge stigma around depression.”
According to Lozano, she has heard people say depression is a choice, and someone can choose to be happy.
“The thing that drives me crazy is when people tell me to cheer up, because it’s not easy,” Lozano says. “Your mind and my mind work differently. While you’re doing fine, there are people out there who have a really tough time.”
Lozano says that people are ashamed of reaching out for help when feeling depressed because of the people who understand that make it out as a joke.
“It’s not a joke,” Lozano says while wiping her tears. “This is something that I struggle with on a daily basis. It’s something I’ve been struggling with the past 10 years of my life. It’s not a joke, and if it were so easy for me to just cheer up and be happy, obviously I would do it. But that’s not how it works. It’s impossible.”
Lozano is currently battling with depression. But, she encourages the people who are dealing with it to seek out a therapist. Because if not, darker thoughts start to happen.
“That’s when people turn to drugs, alcohol, self-harm, or even suicide,” explains Lozano. “That is how we lose people to suicide, because they don’t know what to do, who to turn to, because they are afraid people will judge them.”
Lozano’s advice is to keep fighting, because that’s what has helped her through her battle.
“It’s a new day,” explains Lozano. “Unfortunately, it might be a new battle. But, it’s a new day, and I have those thoughts and everything, but I control them. Now, I don’t even give them a second thought, because well… I’ve made it this far.”