The First Time I Realized I Was Depressed

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I remember the first time I consciously realized I was sad.

It was in the summer before second grade, and my best friend—my only friend, really—had moved away several weeks earlier. I had decided as a result not to attend the summer camp we used to go to together.

One afternoon, I was sitting on a swing in our backyard. I wasn’t swinging on the swing; I was just sitting on it and looking at the ground. I wasn’t thinking about my friend or about much of anything. I was doing what kids do: just feeling without attaching thoughts to the feelings to try to validate them somehow.

My mom came out of the house. She said that the camp counselor had written me a letter. There was a sympathetic and helpless look on her face that I still remember, though I didn’t understand it at the time.

She read me the letter. The counselor said that she was sorry that I had lost my friend, but that she hoped I would return to summer camp next year.

I remember being a little confused at first when she read it. I wondered why this counselor that I barely remembered would write a letter like that, and why she thought I didn’t go to camp because my friend had left. She must’ve thought I was pretty bad off to go to all that trouble.

And that is when I realized that I was depressed and I missed my best friend.

It was the first time in my life I ever realized this.

I must’ve forgotten soon afterwards, though, because I don’t remember being aware of being sadder than other people in elementary school. Which made it much easier to handle.

Then one day a long time later, when I was in junior high school, I was reading a story in a magazine about a girl who realized that she was depressed because she burst out crying for no reason one day while on a bus.

When I read that, I thought, I do that all the time.

Any similar memories? I’d love to hear them.


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