Struggling with depression? You are not alone. Your struggle is real, unique, disabling, and human. Join your colleagues in medicine here and share your story.

   Jasmyne Jackson, M4, The University of Michigan Medical School

Jasmyne Jackson, M4, The University of Michigan Medical School

 "Hope is a four-letter-word just as much as it is a life preserver. Depression, for me, was and is a damning spiral of guilt, regret, and feeling unworthy of being loved. It is a disease. A disease with treatments, with cures, with happy endings. It doesn’t discriminate. It’s an invisible anguish that too many people are fighting in silence, in seclusion. Too many loved ones are losing that fight.   To those of you whom any part of this rings true, a silver lining: Because of this you will be able to more deeply connect with those around you who are suffering. You have been given the opportunity to become a beacon, an anchor. Hitting rock bottom makes you more fearless. You’ve seen the worst. You’re still here. Be there for someone else in that time.  And I know how it feels to hear these things and to not care, to have them make you angrier and sadder. They can make the future fade even faster, cast the past in a brighter light, throw the disparity of dream and reality into sharper contrast.   You may not believe me now, but it does get better. There are times, family, friends, patients, inventions, adventures, lovers, places, siblings, people worth living for. You are worth living for. Thank you for being you.   Please keep living."    - Karlie Haug, M4, The University of Michigan Medical School

"Hope is a four-letter-word just as much as it is a life preserver. Depression, for me, was and is a damning spiral of guilt, regret, and feeling unworthy of being loved. It is a disease. A disease with treatments, with cures, with happy endings. It doesn’t discriminate. It’s an invisible anguish that too many people are fighting in silence, in seclusion. Too many loved ones are losing that fight. 

To those of you whom any part of this rings true, a silver lining: Because of this you will be able to more deeply connect with those around you who are suffering. You have been given the opportunity to become a beacon, an anchor. Hitting rock bottom makes you more fearless. You’ve seen the worst. You’re still here. Be there for someone else in that time.

And I know how it feels to hear these things and to not care, to have them make you angrier and sadder. They can make the future fade even faster, cast the past in a brighter light, throw the disparity of dream and reality into sharper contrast. 

You may not believe me now, but it does get better. There are times, family, friends, patients, inventions, adventures, lovers, places, siblings, people worth living for. You are worth living for. Thank you for being you. 

Please keep living."

- Karlie Haug, M4, The University of Michigan Medical School

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   Brian Desmond, M4, The University of Michigan Medical School

Brian Desmond, M4, The University of Michigan Medical School

 "Daunting. Cumbersome. Impossible. Unworthy. Failure.  Prior to medical school these words hardly ever crossed my mind. I could do anything I put my mind to. That first day of medical school, I looked around and saw over 150 confident faces smiling back. Everyone was amazing. We had all gotten into medical school.  6 weeks later, I had a very different outlook. I had failed my first medical school sequence. I was ashamed and pessimistic. I started questioning myself and my admission into medical school. I wasn’t good enough to be here.  Throughout the next semester I tried pushing through the ups and downs of the coursework. At times things would seem better, and I could manage to get out of bed, make it to my required activities and engage with the rest of our class. Other times, I had a hard time telling myself I should finish watching the lectures and study.  Recently, I just started back to school after a full year on a personal leave for my depression and anxiety. Although at first I was angry and frustrated, I’m grateful to have taken the leave. I’m also grateful that I was able to tackle my depression and anxiety, working with my psychiatrist, family and friends, plus some medications. I’m ready to take on the challenge again, knowing full well that my symptoms may come back.  I want to be completely transparent and honest. Anxiety and depression is nothing to be ashamed of, and I am determined to be a peer resource to other students going through hard times. Let’s start changing the culture around depression and other mental health concerns."    - Claire Collins, M2, The University of Michigan Medical School

"Daunting. Cumbersome. Impossible. Unworthy. Failure.

Prior to medical school these words hardly ever crossed my mind. I could do anything I put my mind to. That first day of medical school, I looked around and saw over 150 confident faces smiling back. Everyone was amazing. We had all gotten into medical school.

6 weeks later, I had a very different outlook. I had failed my first medical school sequence. I was ashamed and pessimistic. I started questioning myself and my admission into medical school. I wasn’t good enough to be here.

Throughout the next semester I tried pushing through the ups and downs of the coursework. At times things would seem better, and I could manage to get out of bed, make it to my required activities and engage with the rest of our class. Other times, I had a hard time telling myself I should finish watching the lectures and study.

Recently, I just started back to school after a full year on a personal leave for my depression and anxiety. Although at first I was angry and frustrated, I’m grateful to have taken the leave. I’m also grateful that I was able to tackle my depression and anxiety, working with my psychiatrist, family and friends, plus some medications. I’m ready to take on the challenge again, knowing full well that my symptoms may come back.

I want to be completely transparent and honest. Anxiety and depression is nothing to be ashamed of, and I am determined to be a peer resource to other students going through hard times. Let’s start changing the culture around depression and other mental health concerns."

- Claire Collins, M2, The University of Michigan Medical School

   Seth Klapman, M3, The University of Michigan Medical School

Seth Klapman, M3, The University of Michigan Medical School

   David Stewart, MD, Department of Medicine-Pediatrics, Michigan Medicine

David Stewart, MD, Department of Medicine-Pediatrics, Michigan Medicine

 "I experienced severe postpartum depression when I was a resident, and I spiraled into a devastating internal crisis. On the outside, I held everything together.  But at home, I would break down and felt a terrible sense of guilt, unworthiness and failure. At the time, I felt like I couldn't open up to anyone about it. I am so grateful that the University of Michigan House Officer mental health clinic was available to me and was confidential. I randomly saw a flyer and made an appointment. It changed everything for me. Now I'd like to be open about my experience and let residents, students, other physicians know about the resources out there, the importance of our mental health, and that depression and anxiety are not diseases of the weak. Depression, anxiety and burn out are very common in high performing individuals, and being open and honest about these things may change our culture and help us to better take care of ourselves while taking care of others."    - Erin McKean, MD, Department of Otolaryngology, Michigan Medicine

"I experienced severe postpartum depression when I was a resident, and I spiraled into a devastating internal crisis. On the outside, I held everything together.  But at home, I would break down and felt a terrible sense of guilt, unworthiness and failure. At the time, I felt like I couldn't open up to anyone about it. I am so grateful that the University of Michigan House Officer mental health clinic was available to me and was confidential. I randomly saw a flyer and made an appointment. It changed everything for me. Now I'd like to be open about my experience and let residents, students, other physicians know about the resources out there, the importance of our mental health, and that depression and anxiety are not diseases of the weak. Depression, anxiety and burn out are very common in high performing individuals, and being open and honest about these things may change our culture and help us to better take care of ourselves while taking care of others."

- Erin McKean, MD, Department of Otolaryngology, Michigan Medicine

I tell my story because many people—even medical students and physicians—believe that to be depressed you must cry uncontrollably and lack the energy to get out of bed every day. This is not so.
— Jeffrey Nadel, M4, The University of Michigan Medical School
 Never forget: Depression wears many masks. In the beginning, I couldn’t wait to start medical school. For me—an easygoing and happy-go-lucky guy—the seemingly endless opportunities for personal and professional growth were exciting. I studied hard, met new people, and joined as many extra-curricular activities as I could. But as the months wore on, my pursuits began to lose their meaning. I wasn’t excited to get up in the morning, I was irritable, and I was sleeping poorly. One night, I was reflecting on my first year of medical school and couldn’t remember the last time I’d laughed and meant it. The fun-loving and perpetual optimism that defined my personality had slowly transitioned into an act that I worked hard to feign.  My depression wore a different mask than it did for many of my other medical school friends. There was no big failure, change in life circumstance, or trigger. Thankfully, there was no crying alone or suicidality. Rather, my depression manifested as a strong, all-encompassing flatness that left me unable to relate to my colleagues and friends in the way I always had. I felt dull, blunted, and unhappy.  I tell my story because many people--even medical students and physicians--believe that to be depressed you must cry uncontrollably and lack the energy to get out of bed every day. This is not so. Depression can manifest as the loss of the empathy that first brought you into medicine or as the burnout you feel driving into work each morning. It is insidious, over-reaching, and can affect you without you even realizing it.  It is easy to look inwards and not believe that what you feel is true “depression”. But asking for help was one of the best decisions I have made. A career in medicine should be fulfilling and exciting. I feel immensely fortunate to once again be able to wake up each day with enthusiasm; to be able to connect to my patients in a meaningful way that would have been impossible during my episode of flatness and depression. I don’t take for granted the smiles and laughs I share with my friends and family. And I know what to look for within myself the next time this happens.  You deserve to be happy. We all do.    - Jeffrey Nadel, M4, The University of Michigan Medical School

Never forget: Depression wears many masks. In the beginning, I couldn’t wait to start medical school. For me—an easygoing and happy-go-lucky guy—the seemingly endless opportunities for personal and professional growth were exciting. I studied hard, met new people, and joined as many extra-curricular activities as I could. But as the months wore on, my pursuits began to lose their meaning. I wasn’t excited to get up in the morning, I was irritable, and I was sleeping poorly. One night, I was reflecting on my first year of medical school and couldn’t remember the last time I’d laughed and meant it. The fun-loving and perpetual optimism that defined my personality had slowly transitioned into an act that I worked hard to feign.

My depression wore a different mask than it did for many of my other medical school friends. There was no big failure, change in life circumstance, or trigger. Thankfully, there was no crying alone or suicidality. Rather, my depression manifested as a strong, all-encompassing flatness that left me unable to relate to my colleagues and friends in the way I always had. I felt dull, blunted, and unhappy.

I tell my story because many people--even medical students and physicians--believe that to be depressed you must cry uncontrollably and lack the energy to get out of bed every day. This is not so. Depression can manifest as the loss of the empathy that first brought you into medicine or as the burnout you feel driving into work each morning. It is insidious, over-reaching, and can affect you without you even realizing it.

It is easy to look inwards and not believe that what you feel is true “depression”. But asking for help was one of the best decisions I have made. A career in medicine should be fulfilling and exciting. I feel immensely fortunate to once again be able to wake up each day with enthusiasm; to be able to connect to my patients in a meaningful way that would have been impossible during my episode of flatness and depression. I don’t take for granted the smiles and laughs I share with my friends and family. And I know what to look for within myself the next time this happens.

You deserve to be happy. We all do.

- Jeffrey Nadel, M4, The University of Michigan Medical School

knowing when difficult has become disease is so unbelievably important.
— Carolyn Levin, M4, The University of Michigan Medical School
 "I think the most interesting part was how accepted and inevitable it all felt. I laughed at my apathy, thinking “hey this is just part of medical training”. It felt like the statistics I was shown and the struggles of my peers around me, validated the idea that I was, in fact, supposed to be depressed. We all joke about it in a specific dry, macabre, distinctly medical humor.   I recognize that medical school is hard, and honestly, it should be challenging. However, when I see my phq-9 score of 17 as expected for my chosen training maybe something is off. For a profession that is so inherently infused with respect, service, and compassion, medical training can distance trainees from those values.  I had to work really hard and ask for a lot of help to reconnect to the passion for fellow humans, the commitment to service, and the intellectual curiosity that made the prospect being a physician so exciting to me. Depression shouldn’t be an expected side effect of med school, and knowing when difficult has become disease is so unbelievably important."    - Carolyn Levin, M4, The University of Michigan Medical School

"I think the most interesting part was how accepted and inevitable it all felt. I laughed at my apathy, thinking “hey this is just part of medical training”. It felt like the statistics I was shown and the struggles of my peers around me, validated the idea that I was, in fact, supposed to be depressed. We all joke about it in a specific dry, macabre, distinctly medical humor. 

I recognize that medical school is hard, and honestly, it should be challenging. However, when I see my phq-9 score of 17 as expected for my chosen training maybe something is off. For a profession that is so inherently infused with respect, service, and compassion, medical training can distance trainees from those values.  I had to work really hard and ask for a lot of help to reconnect to the passion for fellow humans, the commitment to service, and the intellectual curiosity that made the prospect being a physician so exciting to me. Depression shouldn’t be an expected side effect of med school, and knowing when difficult has become disease is so unbelievably important."

- Carolyn Levin, M4, The University of Michigan Medical School

 "The level of struggle is at epidemic levels, but because of the culture of silence, people feel like they're the only ones going through it."    - Srijan Sen, MD, Department of Psychiatry, Michigan Medicine

"The level of struggle is at epidemic levels, but because of the culture of silence, people feel like they're the only ones going through it."

- Srijan Sen, MD, Department of Psychiatry, Michigan Medicine

in order to care for our patients, we must actively and regularly care for ourselves.
— Megan McCleod, M3, The University of Michigan Medical School
 "I think a lot of the pain that medical trainees endure stems from the idea that we are not also deserving of the same compassion that we provide to others. As future physicians, we have cultivated the mistaken belief that it is our duty to be immune to physical or mental illness. The reality is, though, that in order to care for our patients, we must actively and regularly care for ourselves."    - Megan McCleod, M3, The University of Michigan Medical School

"I think a lot of the pain that medical trainees endure stems from the idea that we are not also deserving of the same compassion that we provide to others. As future physicians, we have cultivated the mistaken belief that it is our duty to be immune to physical or mental illness. The reality is, though, that in order to care for our patients, we must actively and regularly care for ourselves."

- Megan McCleod, M3, The University of Michigan Medical School

 I was raped during college and have struggled with depression ever since. In fact, this was a major motivation for me to pursue a career in medicine. I had lost friends due to my illness so when I came to medical school I was terrified to share my experience with anyone, for fear that they would abandon me. I thought that one day I would be magically cured of my depression, or that I wouldn't need medication, but that hasn't been the case. Every time I've relapsed, I feel a deep fear that I'm not strong enough to make it in this profession. I've now reframed my depression as a chronic illness that I have to manage each and every day with a combination of medication and lifestyle modifications, but when I relapse I feel shame and guilt that I'm not able to keep myself well. There have definitely been times that I've wanted to cease to exist, and death seemed like the only escape. However, because of all this, I have been able to find so much compassion and understanding for my patients and their experiences. The incredible privilege of being able to be there for them keeps me going and makes me want to live.    - Anonymous, The University of Michigan Medical School

I was raped during college and have struggled with depression ever since. In fact, this was a major motivation for me to pursue a career in medicine. I had lost friends due to my illness so when I came to medical school I was terrified to share my experience with anyone, for fear that they would abandon me. I thought that one day I would be magically cured of my depression, or that I wouldn't need medication, but that hasn't been the case. Every time I've relapsed, I feel a deep fear that I'm not strong enough to make it in this profession. I've now reframed my depression as a chronic illness that I have to manage each and every day with a combination of medication and lifestyle modifications, but when I relapse I feel shame and guilt that I'm not able to keep myself well. There have definitely been times that I've wanted to cease to exist, and death seemed like the only escape. However, because of all this, I have been able to find so much compassion and understanding for my patients and their experiences. The incredible privilege of being able to be there for them keeps me going and makes me want to live.

- Anonymous, The University of Michigan Medical School

 "Realizing that the things that usually made me happy no longer carried that spark of rejuvenation – that was when I realized my mind wasn’t in the right place. I went through the motions day after day, just waiting for this “slump” period to end. Then I woke up one day and realized that  weeks  had passed, and I still was not getting joy out of life. This was when I knew I needed support, I needed my family and friends, and I needed help dealing with the anxiety and depression that had creeped into my daily life. Take the time to pay attention to your own thoughts and feelings, and just as importantly, to those of your loved ones. If you look in the mirror and feel any sensation of a stranger staring back at you, you are not alone.  You will never be alone."     - Alyssa Mazurek, M4, The University of Michigan Medical School

"Realizing that the things that usually made me happy no longer carried that spark of rejuvenation – that was when I realized my mind wasn’t in the right place. I went through the motions day after day, just waiting for this “slump” period to end. Then I woke up one day and realized that weeks had passed, and I still was not getting joy out of life. This was when I knew I needed support, I needed my family and friends, and I needed help dealing with the anxiety and depression that had creeped into my daily life. Take the time to pay attention to your own thoughts and feelings, and just as importantly, to those of your loved ones. If you look in the mirror and feel any sensation of a stranger staring back at you, you are not alone. You will never be alone."

- Alyssa Mazurek, M4, The University of Michigan Medical School

   Matthew Hughes, MD, Department of Psychiatry, Michigan Medicine

Matthew Hughes, MD, Department of Psychiatry, Michigan Medicine

   Kathryn Baker, MD, Department of Psychiatry, Michigan Medicine    "Depression in med school was rooted in a fear of letting go. Letting go of relationships, letting go of a version of me who wasn’t a physician. I suddenly had to be very honest with myself and confront ideas about who I was or who I thought I was, which lead to me feeling guilty and unworthy. It was as though now I had an even bigger asterisk hanging above my head that read, “*she’ll disappoint you.”    - Anonymous, The University of Michigan Medical School

Kathryn Baker, MD, Department of Psychiatry, Michigan Medicine

"Depression in med school was rooted in a fear of letting go. Letting go of relationships, letting go of a version of me who wasn’t a physician. I suddenly had to be very honest with myself and confront ideas about who I was or who I thought I was, which lead to me feeling guilty and unworthy. It was as though now I had an even bigger asterisk hanging above my head that read, “*she’ll disappoint you.”

- Anonymous, The University of Michigan Medical School

 "Throughout my entire life I felt like I was expected to be invincible. If I failed, if I felt guilty, if I felt sad, I should just suck it up and move on. Maybe it was growing up playing sports, maybe I just grew to embrace this perception of myself as needing to have the perfect response to life’s many curveballs. When I became depressed in high school, it was supposed to be a one-time thing. Some therapy, some medication, and I was good to go. “A phase” if you will. But when I became depressed in medical school, and it felt like I had failed big time. I felt like I was failing my friends, my instructors, and my future patients. How could I take care of other people when I couldn’t even take care of myself? And if this wasn’t just a one-time thing, what did that mean for my life moving forward? Turns out the best possible thing I could do was open up to someone about the immense amount of guilt I was harboring over certain events in my life, as well as the intense pressure I put on myself to make sure everything was “okay.” Since then, I’ve learned that it’s perfectly fine if everything is not always “okay.” And if I can’t learn to cut myself some slack when life happens, then that’s when I will really be failing. Most of all, I realized that staying silent and pretending to be fine only made things worse, and I made a promise to myself that if I’m ever struggling again, opening up will be my first step towards trying to feel better."    - Brian Fry, M4, The University of Michigan Medical School

"Throughout my entire life I felt like I was expected to be invincible. If I failed, if I felt guilty, if I felt sad, I should just suck it up and move on. Maybe it was growing up playing sports, maybe I just grew to embrace this perception of myself as needing to have the perfect response to life’s many curveballs. When I became depressed in high school, it was supposed to be a one-time thing. Some therapy, some medication, and I was good to go. “A phase” if you will. But when I became depressed in medical school, and it felt like I had failed big time. I felt like I was failing my friends, my instructors, and my future patients. How could I take care of other people when I couldn’t even take care of myself? And if this wasn’t just a one-time thing, what did that mean for my life moving forward? Turns out the best possible thing I could do was open up to someone about the immense amount of guilt I was harboring over certain events in my life, as well as the intense pressure I put on myself to make sure everything was “okay.” Since then, I’ve learned that it’s perfectly fine if everything is not always “okay.” And if I can’t learn to cut myself some slack when life happens, then that’s when I will really be failing. Most of all, I realized that staying silent and pretending to be fine only made things worse, and I made a promise to myself that if I’m ever struggling again, opening up will be my first step towards trying to feel better."

- Brian Fry, M4, The University of Michigan Medical School

   Lakshmi Karra, M3, The University of Michigan Medical School

Lakshmi Karra, M3, The University of Michigan Medical School

   Lauren Gaston-Hawkins, M2, The University of Michigan Medical School

Lauren Gaston-Hawkins, M2, The University of Michigan Medical School