How a ‘Madisonian’ Reporter Navigated Depression


Crisnell Cabigting, Staff Reporter

Over 44% of high school students suffer from depression and anxiety in today’s society. The thought of being hopeless and not worthy of life overbears the happiness that a teenager should be experiencing. I am one of those students. I have struggled with my mental health for over a year. There have been a lot of ups and downs, but overall, I would consider myself much healthier and happier than last year. 

Many TikTok users say junior year is always the worst year of high school, but I never thought they would be right. Before then, school had never been a struggle for me. I always turned in my work on time, balanced work and school perfectly, and never felt lonely. Much of my time was devoted to school; it was the only thing on my mind. I didn’t put my mental health and well-being over it. It was never my top priority. I never asked anyone for help and thought I could work things out independently. I never wanted to feel like a burden on people. 

The 2022 year started rough. Although I knew I was struggling with mental health, I was never officially diagnosed with specifics. I didn’t start having trouble with my mental health until after COVID; two years of not having a typical school year took a massive toll on me. The lack of socialism during those years sent me into a depressive state of feeling lonely and left out of activities I enjoyed doing. It wasn’t until last year that I wanted to focus on my mental health more, putting school and friendships second. My friends supported me and were willing to listen to me through those dark times. I greatly appreciate them for helping me through it. 

I started cognitive behavioral therapy in January, getting asked the same questions every session and contemplating if I was getting better after every session. I didn’t know what “getting better” was at the time. After several months, I went from going to therapy every two weeks to once every two months for a check-up. I’ve had many therapists throughout those months, and they’ve helped me through various coping skills and resources to help me set aside other priorities and focus on my mental health more. 

Mental health issues do not usually run in my family, so when I mentioned feeling down and a little depressed, they had no words to share. They didn’t know how to react. Honestly, I wasn’t sure how to respond. Thoughts of whether or not they would do anything to help me if they would ignore me or tell me there’s no reason to be depressed. Many scenarios of what would happen ran through my brain when I told them. Luckily, they were very supportive and comforting about the situation and decided it was best for me to seek professional help from psychiatrists and a variety of therapists. In the Philippines, where my mom’s family is from, mental health is often overlooked., My mom was unsure how to help me; she called several outpatient resources, which led to a week’s stay at an inpatient facility. 

During that stay, I worked on coping skills and strategies with my assigned therapist for a couple of hours each day. I built comfortable relationships with nurses and participated in group activities to open up about our struggles. Still, most importantly, I created a better relationship with myself. By the end of the stay, I made a safety plan with my social worker and mom to determine the best ways to help me when I was alone. I had never seen my mom so happy when she saw me through those glass doors with her arms out, waiting for a hug. The first couple of nights after my discharge were a little strange because I was still adjusting to the regular habits I was used to. I never thought being without my phone would be so relieving and peaceful, but it was. 

Unfortunately, that bout of depression wasn’t the first and only time. Depression surfaced again. The loneliness and depression hit me like a wave just a month later, and I performed the same routine from the previous month, hoping I would eventually get better. Missing those few weeks of school dropped my grades tremendously, and I had to drop my Ivy Tech credits, sacrificing my chance to graduate from Ivy Tech with Indiana Core. I was not thrilled about it, but I knew that was the best option for me, focus on my core classes, with electives as study halls. It worked so well (insert sarcasm) until I was not motivated enough to get up and go to school. My anxiety attacks worsened as I woke up trying to get ready for school. After several conversations with my parents, we decided it was best to finish my junior year in an online school, hoping that would be better and give me more motivation by having self-paced classes. Unfortunately, it made me more undetermined to finish it early and procrastinate at the last minute, so it quickly failed.

In summer, when the sun was out with longer days and shorter nights, my mind cleared of school and the troubles surrounding my life. I had nothing to worry about; my closest friends and family were beside me. I was slowly getting better. I felt less alone, and my anxiety attacks weren’t as bad. Life was all I’d ever dreamed of. I didn’t want to spend my senior year online, so I spoke with my parents about enrolling me back into Madison. They were a little worried about me going back because they didn’t want me to go back into depressive states if it was too much for me again. I wanted to graduate with the people I’ve known for many years, be a part of clubs, and start my senior year fresh. After weeks of thinking about what was best for me, we agreed to let me return, but only if I took it slowly with classes and extracurriculars. It’s safe to say that it was the best decision made. 

Luckily, when I returned, I was already on track to graduate on time. I was afraid I would have to retake multiple classes to get the credits, but that wasn’t the case. Being back felt weird, but I quickly bounced back into the routine; it wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. I learned how to use my time wisely without feeling overwhelmed and overstimulated. I still had my friends by my side, but I made many more that I can call some of my best friends, and I wouldn’t want to change that for anything else. I’ve had the best first semester of senior year and am hoping for an even better one for the few months I have left.

I have two months left of my high school experience until I enter the real world and adulthood. It’s been over a year since my life turned upside down. It doesn’t feel like it has been that long. In two months, I will be walking across the stage at graduation with my cap, gown, and diploma in my hand and being congratulated for finishing high school. It feels unbelievable that I’ve come so far from where I started. I  never expected it to turn out this way. I never thought I would make it to graduation or even senior year, but I am thrilled I did. 

I would love to recognize all the teachers and counselors who have been there for me. I wouldn’t have believed you if you had told me at the start of junior year that I could talk to them about what was happening. I am so glad I can have them as teachers with genuine hearts caring so much about their students. I wouldn’t want to have anyone else to help me finish my high school career.

After high school, I decided to put what I’ve learned from other teachers into my consciousness. I will use the help that I’ve gotten to help others. I will attend Clemson University for Elementary Education and Psychology to help those around me who have or are struggling with mental health. If you were to tell me that I would be where I am today, I would’ve thought you were lying. If I could travel back in time to have a conversation with me from last year, I would hug her and tell her that she will overcome what she’s going through and that everything will be okay. I never expected my life to turn around for the better in a year. Although there are still times when I feel overwhelmed, with the help and resources that I have, I don’t get as overstimulated. I am proud of myself for being able to persevere through anything, especially through the hard times, with the help of my support system.