The "D" Word

February 14, 2008
By Kimberly Guzzetta, Milpitas, CA

Depression. It’s big word that most people do not understand. For a while, I did not understand it either. Well, not until I found out that my twin sister, my best friend, had it. At first, I was frustrated with her. Why did she cry all of the time? Couldn’t she just “suck it up”? Sometimes I would sit in my room, digging through my mind for answers to all of these questions I had, but I still could come up with a plausible answer. After all, I could not ask my parents because I did not want to upset them. Asking my sister was out of the question- she barely knew anything about depression. So, I came to my own conclusions. She merely acted this way as a cry for attention- nothing more.

Looking back at her personality, many people that know my sister would not have even thought of her as someone who has depression. For all thirteen years of her life (and as long as I had known her), she floated effortlessly through life, always landing on her feet and enjoying herself. On the other hand, I was serious. I worried my way through life, always thinking about the next step. As my father told me later, I, not my sister, was the one expected to inherit the lovely gift of depression from my mother.

Soon, my sister’s condition got worse. More than once, her depression got so bad that she could not get out of bed in the morning. Soon, she was falling behind on class work and homework. My sister and I did not talk about her condition that much. I did not really understand it, and she would not talk about it. Soon, all of this changed. One day, I was in my room doing homework. In the next room over, Bethany was morose and crying, as usual. I sat in my room, contemplating my sister’s actions. As I thought, I realized something. By not being involved with my sister’s condition, I was becoming farther away from her. Finally, I came in and plopped down on the bed next to my weeping sister. I gave her a giant hug. Then, I looked at her and said, “Bethany, I promise that I will always be here for you.” Suddenly she stopped crying, and I realized that this had only made us closer. From then on, she talked to me about her depression. She shared with me all of her thoughts and fears. I kept all of her secrets, and she kept mine. I told her, “Though I am not even close to understanding what you are going through, I swear that I will help you as best as I can.”

“Can you help me understand depression some more?” I asked my mother this question the day we were alone. Bethany was at a friend’s house. Slowly, my mother began to explain her best interpretation of depression. Carefully choosing her words, she began her explanation with a simple statement, “Someone who has depression can not help being sad. It just happens.” She told me how sadness, as well as anger, can come with it. But, every individual handles it differently. Even if that person has nothing upsetting in their life, they will still have sadness because they can not help it. Also, the most unimportant things can trigger their sadness. And, she told me, when teens take depression medication, they are more likely to become suicidal. I looked at her with a terrified face, but she simply gave me an understanding nod, which signaled that she was done speaking of that subject. Finally, she told me one important thing that I have tried to honor ever since: when it comes to living with someone with depression, you just have to have undying patience and love for them.

Because Bethany and I are close, she would tell me everything. One morning, as we waited for the bell to ring, Bethany told me something that put her to tears, “They’re thinking about putting me on medication.” Her words threw me back, catching me off guard. I did not know what to say. Finally, I did the only thing I felt I could do. I gave her a hug and a sympathetic look. Finally, Bethany broke the silence. “I don’t know what to do! I’m worried. I mean, medication is a big step! What if I turn out like Mom? What if—“ we both began sobbing again because we knew the effects of our mom’s medication. I also knew the disturbing fact that my mom told me about teen medication. All of this scared me. Only one thing kept me from breaking down: my sister. I knew that I had to be strong for when she feels like she wants to give up.

To this day, Bethany is still dealing with the effects of depression, but I understand it a little more. I still have times where I feel aggravated with Bethany’s behavior, but for the most part I try to give her my patience. We still talk, and Bethany sees a councilor to help her and figure out ways to deal with it. She is not on medication, and still breaks down sometimes. But, our whole family is helping her get through this, and soon this will all be in the past. The “D” word will trouble us no more.

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