One Swift Kick

My first official battle with depression hit me at just 13 years old, a freshly deemed teen entering my first year of high school. Within the first month of going back to school, I spent a week straight at home with only enough energy and will to move from the couch a time or two a day. My primary care physician offered a mononucleosis diagnosis, better known to teens as “the kissing disease”—one of the most common viruses to infect humans around the world. At the time, the diagnosis seemed plausible to both my family and I. Anyone who regularly comes into close contact with large numbers of people is at an increased risk for mono, leading high school and college students to frequently become infected. In addition to statistical odds, several of my close friends at school were spending time at home in bed infected with the virus. I assumed I’d caught it too—that my fatigue, muscle weakness, headaches, and perhaps even a sore throat (I can’t recall for sure) were all just part of this draining teenage illness. Although my testing for mono came back negative, my doctor remained faithful in the mono diagnosis, as the testing typically only detects the virus two to nine weeks after the initial infection. Looking back, I highly doubt I ever had the virus at all. I just didn’t know what it felt like for every thought, every memory, every conversation, every unascertained demon, to knock you to your knees with one swift kick.

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