I had hoped to return this summer with a triumphant amount of discussion about the relationship I cultivated this spring, maybe some interesting anecdotes and things that I learned. Alas, that can’t happen. While my ex and I had been broken up for a while now, we still talked until a couple of days ago.
This has been a very difficult period of time for me, and it has interacted with my depression in a largely predictable fashion. I have hinted at my depression in some posts, but I have never given it a real examination.
All right, out of the winter haze. On we go! Let’s get to it!
Today, I’m going to mention a bit more about some of the hurdles of depression that I am currently going through. But more specifically, I want to mention some things that help through the times of darkness.
I recently made improving my self-esteem a priority, something which I intended to do much earlier but always conveniently had the excuse not to do. However, when I read through my draft of “One Hundred Days of Mist”, I found that it had an intensely therapeutic aspect. Something about reading the words that I wrote back that made it stronger than me merely repeating the words back to myself.
Photo by marinapriest @ Morguefile.com
Well, if there were anything better to come back from hiatus for, I can’t think of it. It is a topic that I have wanted to write about for some time but never felt the impetus to write an article. But, after exploring the topic further and hearing some things floating about the cultural ether, I believe this needs to be addressed.
Let’s talk about virtual girlfriends, or perhaps more appropriately “synthetic relationships”. It’s a phenomenon most associated with Japanese culture, but has global implications, given that we now have more access to Japanese culture than ever before thanks to the internet.
Due to my status as outside of that culture, I can only speculate on the cultural factors that resulted in this rising trend. But what we can discuss is their impact.
There’s a war going on. The battlefield is not a country far and away from the public eye. It is in our own backyard, in an area where the entire population consists of civilians. It is an invisible war, a quiet crisis that speaks only when spoken to. That battlefield is the college campus. The battle is not between political adversaries but internal struggles with depression.
According to the National Institutes of Health, 6.7 percent of Americans are annually affected, making it the most ubiquitous mood disorder. Additionally, in 2009 the American College Association-National College Health Assessment (ACHA-NCHA) found that nearly 30 percent of college students reported feeling “so depressed that it was difficult to function” during the past year. College is a heavy hitter, as now students must deal with increased responsibilities while learning to function more independently. Maggie Alexander, a student Howard Community College, said, “[Depression] has made it harder to focus on my schoolwork and it has also gotten to the point where I have trust issues with most people if I don’t know them too well.”