An ocean of depression:

A true story of one student’s struggle with depression and anxiety.


Bethany Moyer

A black and white selfie of Bethany Moyer

Stormy grey clouds tumbling over themselves on a shaking horizon. Foggy blue water pulsing with every wave of thought. She’s desperately fighting to reach the surface, but a weight is pulling her down. She’s drowning.

            This is not a real ocean- it’s all in her mind.

            Bethany Moyer seems like the average high school junior, with a curly sunset ponytail and bold dark rimmed glasses. Except when she’s crying in the middle of the lunch room or having another panic attack in first period.

            Moyer has always had a fascination with water. One could call it a love-hate relationship. It’s the best way she can describe her own depression. “No matter how much you’re kicking, you can’t get above the water,” Bethany describes with a rueful look in her seafoam eyes.  

            Moyer told her mom first, saying, “I’m having thoughts that aren’t right.” Shortly after, she faced many trials just to identify what was going wrong with her. She took a test at the University of South Florida that consisted of hundreds of questions. She’s even had a psychiatrist falsely diagnose her with bipolar disorder and nearly put Moyer in a ward. This all happened when she was merely an eighth grader.

            All of this- and if could be happening to anyone. They could be your next door neighbor, the girl who sits next to you in math class, the guy you see walking by your house every day.

            While it may be shocking, mental illness in teens has never been more prominent than today. Depression is the most common, and 20% of all teens will experience depression before they reach adulthood.

            But why? Teenage depression has skyrocketed in the past couple of years. The difference between modern teens and any generation before is smartphones. Almost every teen has social media, and although not always the root cause, it certainly can add on to depression.

            “I didn’t associate cutting with depression until Instagram gave me the idea,” Moyer says with a faraway look in her eye, remembering worse days. Looking at posts promoting cutting put Moyer “on a continuous loop down… I had to figure out a way to rewire my brain”. Cutting is an extremely dangerous way that some people use to cope with strong or painful emotions, or even to punish themselves. You wouldn’t be able to see Moyer’s scars at first glance, having faded after so many years. The scars on her heart, however, still haunt her. She used to duck into the girls bathroom at school just to cut. During this, Moyer’s entire online life was surrounded by negative influences. It was too easy for Moyer to confine herself into a bubble of Instagram accounts promoting dangerous ways to relieve depression. Sadly, one in twelve teenagers self-harm, and social media accounts almost commercialize it. But Moyer is in a much better place now, only following positive accounts.  

           Bethany Moyer’s depression isn’t where it stops- she also has anxiety and experiences panic attacks. Although Moyer’s teachers are required to send her to the school nurse when she has a panic attack, not all of her teachers even believe that mental illness is a real thing. So when Moyer is in fifth period and she’s having a panic attack, when her heart beat is so loud that it’s crashing in her ears, and her fear is tangling in intense waves of pain- is it all fake? No.

           All too often, teens hear adults disregarding mental health, citing that everyone gets stressed. Nonetheless, most people don’t understand that anxiety and stress are not the same thing, and neither is sadness and depression. Moyer can sum it up perfectly, after years of clarifying misconceptions. “It’s not just a feeling, like sadness. It’s a mental illness- depression is caused by a medical imbalance in the brain,” her hands fly as she explains. When a friend teases her about her anxiety or depression, she explains to him that “his mind has all of the chemicals that it needs-mine doesn’t”.

           While Bethany Moyer may have two mental illnesses, she’s not incompetent. In fact, the junior is an extremely talented poet, using her own experience to create poetry that is raw, dripping with emotion. Moyer also helped found a student club at Blake, the D.C Comics Club. Moyer balances her mental health with an impressive high school career, showing her true strength. She may not be able to overcome the waves of her personal ocean, but Moyer- incredibly strong for a high school student- will continue fighting, electrifying everyone around her and finally getting a breath of fresh air.