'I’ve never really understood depression. Though I guess it’s not that simple to understand. Growing up, I always thought that if you felt sad, you deal with the emotions at hand and sooner or later you’ll be fighting fit again. I’d seen my parents deal with things the same way, and I’ve pretty much dealt with my problems that way. In my world, there never seemed to be a situation that was insurmountable.
'As I grew up, I realised a lot of people were carrying a lot of baggage. A lot of people were broken and didn’t know how to fix themselves. Then I met Dennis. He was smart; everyone would go to ask for his help for school assignments. He was also very good looking; the girls in journalism class were always swooning over him. I never really paid him any mind until we ended up doing group work together. We bonded over film and journalism work, and we started hanging out together.'
We’d flirt playfully sometimes, but the more he’d come over the less playful it would become.
'I knew he had a girlfriend, but he always talked like he was just about to leave her. They didn’t interact like your average boyfriend and girlfriend; it always felt like one of them was trying to rush through their conversation. When I asked him why he doesn’t just leave, he told me that he never really ended relationships. He just drifted away from his girlfriends. I was stuck between smacking him and laughing the first time I heard that. How ridiculous he was.
'When he’d have tiffs with his girlfriend he’d come to mine and we’d play video games. We’d flirt playfully sometimes, but the more he’d come over the less playful it would become. One day, we almost slept together. It took everything I had to stop it, because by then I realised that I was falling for Dennis. From then on, the sleepovers stopped.'
He was crying on the phone, saying he was having a panic attack.
'One night, just as I was about to go to bed, Dennis called me. He was crying on the phone, saying he was having a panic attack. I did my best to calm him down, and went to see him the first thing the next day. We talked about his anxiety, about his self-hatred, about how he’d been seeing a psychiatrist for a long, long time. The more we talked, the more I realised I didn’t know who this person was – this beautiful man who hated himself. This man that I wanted so badly to be with, but who couldn’t bear to be by himself.
'What was even worse was that his girlfriend didn’t know any of this. It bothered me that he’d come to talk to me about this but then go back to a façade life with his girlfriend. Every time he did, he went back to square one. It bothered me that while I was getting him to open up about his depression, he ultimately stopped hanging out with me because his girlfriend told him to because I was trying to take him from her.
When he told her about his depression, she told him if he wanted to fix it he would’ve done so sooner. She seemed to suggest that he actually didn’t want to get better. So sometimes I’d think that he deserved the relationship he was in. Sometimes I would be happy that he told his parents, and that he finally had the support he needed. For the first time in my life, though, I learned that there are some things that you can’t just fix on your own.”