By Maya Fenter, The Miami Student

Viengsamai Fetters spent 18 of her 24 hours asleep. During the few hours she did spend awake, she would eat.

The beginning of her college career marked the beginning of this vicious cycle.

During the first few days after moving in, she tried to get to know people. She wanted to get to know people.

Then the depression stopped her.

Then the sleep consumed her.

The diagnosis had come in sixth grade: clinical depression. But in the seven years she’s been aware of her mental illness, she doesn’t remember ever sleeping this much in one day.

Sleeping is her coping mechanism. It’s how she deals with the stress of talking to people. It’s how she deals with the difficulty of making friends.

It’s what keeps her from making friends in the first place.

Left behind are the people that understand her, the ones who know her well enough to sense what’s wrong. In their place are strangers.

She’s three-quarters an extrovert. Spending time with other people gives her energy. But the depression stops her.

“I want to be around people all the time,” she says. “But sometimes I can’t because I get sad.”

There’s no logical explanation for her sadness. It creeps in even on good days.

There are events she wants to participate in, but when the time comes, she can’t make herself go.

The depression stops her.

Disheartened and isolated, she tries to break the cycle. She tries going to dinner with the people on her corridor. She tries to socialize with people whose open doors invite her in. She tries to schedule appointments at the health center, and then tries to stick to them.

She tries to pave her way to a happier life.

“I’m definitely happier now than I was a week ago,” she says. “It’s a good start.”

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