It's the holiday season and finals are at last behind us. Though your first semester or quarter as a college freshman are behind you, there is a sense of emptiness left inside now that the stress has seemed to suddenly evaporate. Instead of feeling happy and excited to go back home to the loving arms of your family and hometown friends, you feel...nothing. This personally happened to me as I boarded the southbound train home after my last final on a chilly afternoon in early December. 

At first, I thought it was still the "ghost" of finals stress that seemed to still be haunting me — even after a two hour long train ride. My family greeted me from the moment my feet touched the platform and though I had a smile on my face, I did not feel as happy as I thought I would be the few days prior. The solution to all the problems I figured, would be solved once I was back at home resting in my own bed. But, there I was, finally in my comfy bed the night of my first evening back and yet, sleep evaded me. I went to bed much later than usual, even later than I did during the quarter, and slept in until noon or later. I isolated myself as if I was some default ornament handing alone in the bare part of the tree. 


My family, believing that I was only recovering from the stress, didn't think anything of it. They let me go to my room when I said I was tired or just needed to relax. However, my eyes refused to stay shut. I fidgeted constantly and my thoughts would cause me headaches yet I couldn't understand why. There was no reason to be nervous, the worst was over. However, it seemed that both my body and brain refused to accept this. Though I went out with friends, I still seemed out of place even though I had missed them when I was back at school. 

After being at home for almost two weeks, the big day had finally arrived — Christmas. I was awoken by my little sister eagerly pulling at my sheets to go see the beautifully wrapped presents under the tree while my parents sleepily came down the stairs to meet us. It was another Christmas spent with my small but close family. As I tore at the wrapping paper, I was thankful for the things my parents had gifted me and yet, I still had that horrible empty feeling. My mother, using her special Mom "powers" looked at me and with a knowing nod, realized something was wrong. That Christmas morning, the best present my mom gave to me was her support. 


For college students coming back home for the holidays, it can be a special and heartwarming time. However, at times, our lives and emotions may get in the way and it is important to know that it is not our fault. During my time home, I felt guilty for feeling the way that I did even though I had no control over it. After going to the doctor and opening up to my parents about how I was feeling, I now have a proper understanding of what I am going through and though it may be scary to hear the word "depression," it is not a death sentence nor the end of all possible happiness in the future. 

If you or a loved one are going through something similar, please do not be afraid to reach out and seek support from not only family and friends, but other sources as well. May 2017 bring new prospects of hope and happiness for us all in the next upcoming semester or quarter. 

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