In high school, you would not think anything was going on with me emotionally because on the surface, I kept everything sunny and shiny. I was very involved in school activities, on the student government, nominated for homecoming court and a leader in various clubs. I was always out with friends and surrounded by a very large and active social network. Even though I lived life with this confident and social persona, there was always this undertone of sadness underneath the surface that people did not always see.

My depression symptoms started to surface around middle school. It came in waves and had the pattern of a slow ramp up with an explosive episode. During these depressive episodes, I cried all the time, stopped eating due to a loss in appetite, lost interest in things I would normally be passionate about, and basically felt an overall sense of hopelessness. These impacted my relationships with friends and family, where I pushed people away and felt misunderstood by everyone, feeling alone even when I was in a large crowd or surrounded by friends.

It was not until an episode where the sense of hopelessness was so overwhelming that I seriously considered hurting myself and realized that I needed to seek professional help and understand what I was going through. This was the first step towards my long journey to recovery. The journey has not been smooth by any means, and even now a decade later I still have episodes, but through a combination of therapy, a solid support network of friends, and medication, I have learned to manage my depression. Understanding what triggers my episodes, I am better equipped to let my support network know what to be on the lookout for and for me to implement coping mechanisms that help me overcome my symptoms. For example, I know that when I am having an episode, my initial reaction is to withdraw and avoid all social interaction and activities that take me away from my couch. Knowing this, I schedule time with friends and fill my calendar with activities that will take me outside, forcing myself to proactively counteract my triggers.

By seeking help and understanding that my depression is a disease that can be managed, I have been able to accomplish everything I have set out to do in my personal and professional life as well as build meaningful, healthy relationships. The one thing that I have learned and hold on to is that I am so much more than my depression and it does not define me.

 Becca

About the Author: Becca Yang is a current MACH MBA hire and a Capabilities Manager on the Digital Online Capabilities Operations team at Microsoft. She works with multiple technical and non-technical teams within Microsoft to drive E2E operations strategy, compete research, business intelligence, and support capabilities. She is currently working on a project that focuses on the Volume Licensing business, providing insights and identifying gaps as Microsoft transitions to modern platforms that aim to provide best-in-class experiences for our direct customers as well as multiple projects that focus on building the Microsoft community, centering on topics such as Growth Mindset and empowering women in business.

Prior to Microsoft, Rebecca attended the University of Chicago Booth School of Business for her MBA, graduating June 2016 with focuses in business strategy, operations, international business, behavioral organizational management, and general management. Becca relocated to the Seattle area from the Midwest and recently became a NAMI Ending the Silence presenter.