Looking back, junior Carli Hendershot said for years she felt like she was in a hole that she couldn’t escape. There was no way out and all she needed was a helping hand.
But no one around her knew something was wrong.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention said many times, close family and friends won’t know anything is wrong because a depressed individual doesn’t show obvious signs of depression.
Hendershot was on the Dean’s list, involved in Spectrum, vice president of the Student Government Association and a homecoming candidate.
It was great getting involved, Hendershot said, but soon she realized she was in over her head.
After silently dealing with depression and anxiety for years, Hendershot hit rock bottom. On Sept. 2, a friend found her and took her to Ball Memorial Hospital where she was admitted to the psychiatric ward.
“I neglected to get help for years. I pretty much hid it from the world,” Hendershot said. “Even my people closest to me didn’t realize what was going [on] inside of me. When I was admitted to the hospital, I decided to get help. I decided it was time to finally reach out to people.”
Fewer than half of those suffering from depression seek treatment, according to Mental Health America.
When individuals resist treatment, it can cause more serious consequences like hospitalization.
Before she was hospitalized, Hendershot said she had a great summer. She was in a good state of mind and enjoying herself until school started. When she began getting back into all of her activities and classes, she found herself back in a hole.
Sometimes she wanted to stay there and not come out. Other times, she said she needed a hand to help her out.
Being admitted to the hospital was that helping hand for her.
Hendershot was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety after being in the hospital for a few days.
In order to focus on herself, she resigned as the vice president of SGA and as a homecoming nominee a week after leaving the hospital. She said she still continues to go to Spectrum meetings to help out.
“I’m taking some time to myself and kind of exploring who I am and how to take a healthy role in my life,” Hendershot said.
Director of Counseling June Payne said that depression and anxiety have been steadily increasing over the past 20 years.
The Nuffield Foundation suggests that the increase in depression and anxiety may be related to the fact that more young people are pursuing higher education. Therefore, they are less likely to be employed until later on, creating a longer and less structured period of adolescence.
Hendershot said she thinks more students struggle with depression and anxiety than people realize.
According to the Ball State Counseling Center website, one in five women and one in 10 men are suffering from a depressive illness during any 6-month period.
“I think college is a time where a lot of students quickly become stressed,” Hendershot said. “Whether it’s about school [or] friends, all types of situations that students have never dealt with suddenly arise and students can easily become depressed, stressed out and have major anxiety.”
Now that she is getting help and attending counseling, Hendershot said she is thankful for where she is today. Counseling has helped her to focus on her academics and her future career.
She said her main focus is being happy.
“My goal in life is to find that happiness,” Hendershot said. “There’s no going back. There’s no going down. I’ve hit my rock bottom and I’m ready to take those steps to be happy again.”
The secret Hendershot kept inside her for so long is now something she wants to share with others, so she can help them.
“To be able to talk about it feels really relieving,” Hendershot said. “We shouldn’t have to keep this a secret. It shouldn’t be something that we have to carry alone.”