My Own Inner Dreamland
Growing up we knew who everyone was in high school. We knew who the popular kids were, the jocks, the geeks, the loners, and the kids who didn’t seem to fit in. We knew the good kids and the bad kids. There was always that distinctive place that everyone belonged to and we knew the boundaries because our lives had always been measured by it. But did we really know them? Did we know the person that they are after the final bell of the day? Did we know who they are at home, to their parents, to their sibling, or to themselves? No, we didn’t and we still don’t.
We Don’t Know Who They Are.
We didn’t know the young girl who went home each day a little sadder and a little less hopeful for the next day. We didn’t know that she cried herself to sleep each and every night as she prayed for the pain to go away. We didn’t know that she wished for the hollow numbness that she felt to just go away.
We didn’t know the young boy who asked “why me? what did I ever do to them?” We didn’t know that he literally saw no future where the bullying and torment didn’t end. We didn’t see how he spent hours upon hours staring at the wall simply because he was numb to the world. We didn’t see him asking himself, “What is wrong with me? Why am I alone?”
We never saw the truth. We never saw those kids that gave up on the world and life because they were pushed to do so. We didn’t see them question their existence. They asked themselves, “What was the point of being born if my life is going to be meaningless? Shouldn’t I just end? I mean it’s not like anyone is going to miss me. What is the point?”
One Moment, One Choice.
These questions and feelings that these kids experienced aren’t as uncommon as they appear to be. 3 to 5 Adults suffer from major depression. Depression is also considered the third leading cause of death for teens ages 12–18. The Mayo Clinic describes depression as:
- Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness.
- Angry Outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters.
- Loss of interest or pleasure in most or all normal activities, such as sex, hobbies, or sports.
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or sleeping too much.
- Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort.
- Changes in appetite — often reduced appetite and weight loss, but increased cravings for food and weight gain in some people.
- Anxiety, agitation, or restlessness.
- Slowed thinking, speaking or body movements.
- Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming yourself for things that aren’t your responsibility.
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things.
- Frequent or recurrent thoughts of death, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts or suicide.
- Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches.
Some of the sound familiar don’t they? Some teens or young adults who are faced with the struggle of depression will feel like they only have one choice. In way it feels like tunnel vision where all they see is ending it. That becomes the only way to make it all stop. It boils down to one moment and one choice.
Sarah Dessen’s Dreamland
In her novel, Dreamland, Sarah Dessen tells the tale of a sixteen year old girl, Caitlyn. Caitlyn has always felt that she was the shadow of her older, perfect sister Cass. She felt that she was never noticed by her parents and was subpar in comparison. That is until Cass runs off with her boyfriend just before her freshmen year of college and Caitlyn meets Rogerson. Rogerson seems perfect, dark and mysterious, and he notices Caitlyn. Over time Rogerson gets Caitlyn involved in drugs and begins beating her. However, she doesn’t tell anyone because of course Rogerson loves her and it was her fault anyways, or so she tells herself. Caitlyn is faced with coming to terms with the abuse and accepting herself.
While Dessen does not out right acknowledge depression as a key component in the novel; instead, she focuses on the domestic and drug abuse. However, she implies the struggle that Caitlyn faces. Caitlyn becomes withdrawn, pessimistic, and a shell of her former self. Dessen shows how depression, as the silent attacker, can affect the victim without being obvious. She shows how everyday teens face depression through the character development of Caitlyn.
Depression is not obvious in its malcontent. Depression is not something that only occurs at 3 a.m. when the person is alone, but can happen at 3 p.m. when the person is laughing with friends. Caitlyn becomes the silent example of how depression is an everyday struggle.
My Own Story
Depression doesn’t go away over night. It is a struggle that is faced every day for the rest of your life. Depression isn’t something that should be faced alone. Speak Up and Speak Out.