By Jessie Garrison
Associate Opinion Editor

Dear Professor,

I am writing to you to illustrate the many masks of depression. Depressed college students do not look the same. Some of us are C students with sad and hopeless eyes. Others are silently suffering. Then there are students like me, who sit in the front of the classroom with their hand eagerly raised to take part. As you speak with me and learn my goals – dean’s list, grad school, and success – you will miss the signs. Because professor, I am one of the many students who suffer from depression.

A  silent monster hides behind the correct answers. Hiding behind the preparation for the readings, a paper turned in 4 days early,  and a drive for participation points. This monster is not like the one that used to hide under our beds as small children. Professor, this monster hides inside some of your students’ minds. Dean’s list is a mask; a perfectly executed costume for the student that is struggling. One who is too afraid to ask for an extension because being sad is not an excuse. Professor, you will fail to notice:

Fifteen alarms set, every five minutes,

because getting out of bed and attending your class is the largest mountain to climb. A climb surrounded by negative thoughts and encased by fear. I am not five minutes late because I do not care. I am late due to my bed sheets gripping my ankles so tight that I am, some days, not strong enough for them to release.

Tear stained cheeks, at 3 am.

An hour that never fails to make my world feel small, broken, shattered. An hour that makes me, and many of your students, feel small, worthless, and weak. While watching the stars clutching my stomach filled with sobs, I am now panicking. I have an exam at 8 am; is being depressed an excuse to retake?

I know your extension policy but please…

I ask with my hands shaking, fearful of the answer. I am not asking because I waited until the last minute, chances are I started a week ago. But the effects of this monster have been too strong.

You may never guess that some of us depressed; we understand it is invisible. Some of us may even be too scared to speak up.  But professor, what can you do? You may feel so overwhelmed with the students you have to accommodate. You may feel as if you do not have the right tools. But for the many students like me, we want your support. We want your office to be a place for validation and understanding. You tell us to see counseling and resources on campus – professor they are there for you too.

Your Students