Author and mental health advocate Abraham Sculley shared his experience living with and seeking help for depression on May 21, hosted by De Anza College Psychological Services and Active Minds as part of their “Mental Health Awareness Week.”
Sculley was diagnosed with major depressive disorder in 2015 as a college student and said the experience was confusing and isolating. He encouraged attendees to recognize early signs of depression and work past any shame that stops them from seeking help.
“It’s such a sign of courage and strength to say to yourself, ‘I don’t know how to get through this,’ or ‘I don’t even know how I got here,’” Sculley said. “Making that decision to reach out for help is the catalyst to getting on the other side of depression.”
Instead of only speaking to the audience, Sculley invited students to speak up any time they heard something that resonated with them. He also drew from students’ replies to shape the hour-long conversation, bringing in other experiences outside of his own.
Although she didn’t learn anything new in particular, 20-year-old cognitive science major Jane Zheng said it was moving to see other De Anza students talk about their experiences and it helped her feel less alone.
“I teared up a bit when Sculley told us his story about how a phone call from a friend saved his life,” Zheng said. “His friend was persistent and wouldn’t leave him alone until he told her what was wrong. It reminded me of one of my own friends who kept reaching out to me even though I had distanced myself from everyone for several months.”
Alexander Aldama, 20, an anthropology major, said that even Sculley’s simplest questions left their mark.
“What resonated with me most was the simple phrase ‘You Good?’” Aldama said. “Most people would respond with a simple ‘yes,.’ But when you really truly ask yourself if that is the case, then we have to look deeper and sometimes the answer might be a ‘no.’ And that is OK.”
Stephanie Brambila, 32, a psychology major said that she only discovered on-campus resources because of groups like Active Minds, since she is the first in her family to attend college.
“As a person of color, it was difficult in the beginning to accept what I’ve been going through as normal,” Brambila said. “Since my family had problems of their own, I was always told to ‘get over it.’ But seminars like this give students a safe space to speak about the realities of our struggles and feel a sense of camaraderie.”
Students can learn more about on-campus psychological resources here.