Facing Depression

Anjali D'Souza and Lena Donovan

Across the room, a girl takes notes diligently as the teacher lectures about the industrial revolution and its impact on inner-city commerce. She pauses occasionally to listen to her friends or interject her own part of the side conversation. She is smiling and laughing happily. Then the teacher calls on her, and she gives a quick, effective response to the question. A duffel bag is under her seat for her to bring to tennis practice after school. After tennis, she will go home and do homework, and then get ready for bed. But while everyone else like her—her teammates and peers—has a bedtime routine along the lines of brushing teeth and getting in pajamas, hers is a little different. When she is alone in her room at the end of another long day, she will take a razor to her wrists as she tries to cope with the crushing weight of depression.

The above situation is completely hypothetical, but there are plenty of people who could fit that role; depression can affect anyone, and there are not always warning signs. When people do not consider how their words and actions affect others, the results can be devastating. Liberty junior Lana Waltosz shares her experience with depression, and her attempt at committing suicide, because she wants to raise awareness that suicide and depression should not be disregarded.

Waltosz’s struggle with depression began in middle school when her self-esteem dropped, especially concerning her body image.

“I started to notice that all the girls in there were a lot prettier than me, they were a lot skinnier than me and they got a bunch of attention,” she said. “I found out about anorexia [and] I thought that if I was skinny like them, maybe people would like me.”

So Waltosz began starving herself in order to look the way she thought she should. Around this time, Waltosz also began cutting herself as a way to release what she was feeling. She continued cutting from sixth grade up until the end of her sophomore year of high school. But one day, she became concerned for her life.

“My self-harm kept getting worse every year until one day it got so bad that I was scaring myself. I wanted to die, but some sane part of me knew that I had gone way too far,” she said.

Waltosz then decided to seek help. She began seeing a counselor and her parents started supervising her 24 hours a day. After this supervision had gone on for a while, her parents let her go home one afternoon, leaving her alone for one hour. Waltosz hadn’t cut for a couple of days and was feeling really badly.

“I was just done with everything. So, I decided I was going to overdose on some medication,” she said.

When Waltosz wasn’t answering her phone, and being aware of her depression, one of her friends became worried. The friend called 911, and the fire department soon showed up at Waltosz’s house and took her to the hospital.

From the hospital, Waltosz was sent to Fairfax Hospital for psychiatric treatment.

“It sounds kind of weird, but I loved it there. It’s really nice being surrounded by people who know what you’re going through, because unless you’ve been there, you’re never really going to understand,” she said. “Living there with those people felt like a family.”

After Waltosz’s time at Fairfax, she was doing very well and had stopped resorting to self-harm. But after a few months passed by, she started feeling down again. Her depressing feelings returned when one of her best friends moved away without telling her or saying goodbye.

“I began to feel like, if my best friend in the entire world can leave me like that, I must really not be worth anything. No one cared, because you would think if anyone would care, it would be your best friend,” she said.

It was because of this that she began cutting again, and this time it was worse than ever before. Her self-harm even ended up progressing to the suicidal level once again.

   “I got tired of cutting and having no one notice and being sad all the time. I was so tired of life again. So I attempted suicide—again. I had a bottle of medication that was half full, just of various medications, and I took that,” Waltosz said.

Her father found her passed out on the floor. She was rushed to the hospital immediately, where she promised to never attempt anything like this again.

Since her last suicide scare, Waltosz has begun to see life in an entirely different way. She officially stopped cutting on February 1 and plans on never doing it again.

“Six months ago, this would’ve seemed impossible. But thanks to some really great people, I’ve finally begun to see that, you know, maybe it’s not so bad being me, because I used to hate myself,” she said.

She has started sharing her story with many and wants to help those who feel depressed or suicidal.

“Suicide is not the answer; there are people who die every day from cancer who would give anything to have a life, and you have one, so don’t waste it. And even though you might feel like you’re alone and no one cares, there is someone who cares. Even if everyone tells you that you don’t matter, there is someone out there who cares and who will miss you.”