BY SUMMER BROWN, STAFF WRITER
Mental health affects a large portion of the population of the world on a daily basis, and students are definitely not an exception to this. Mental health issues can make completing daily tasks absolutely difficult and sometimes infuriating. As someone who struggles with mental health every single waking hour of the day, I understand.
Trust me, I understand the struggles that are presented to those who suffer. If asked to be completely honest and come forward with my story, I absolutely will. I am someone who always tries to be as transparent about it as possible to avoid any confusion or misunderstandings, and hopefully even educate those who do not understand what it’s like to suffer because of uncontrollable circumstances. I have been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder of the severe type, Social Anxiety Disorder of the panic type and PTSD tendencies that affect me on a day-to-day basis.
Starting during the beginning of last year, it became extremely hard to function by myself as a result of these uncontrollable diseases, to the point where I convinced myself that suicide was the best option, as it seemed to be the only way out for the second time in my life. Luckily, I practically stumbled upon my current psychologist, who helped me overcome so much more
than I could have ever imagined. I was able to get to the point that my mental illnesses didn’t affect me every single waking second of the day, because I was taught properly how to manage them, work with them and alleviate the side effects of them momentarily.
However, through this experience, my psychologist determined that what I have to deal with definitely affects me enough on a day-to-day basis where it can be classified as a disability. At first, I didn’t know how to deal with the concept of me being diagnosed in such a way, since in my family there’s such negative stigma towards those with disabilities. But when I was able to settle my conscious, I realized this diagnosis gave me the answer to my never-ending question of, “Why am I this way?”
For those who don’t know what it’s like to deal with depression, particularly in my case, it feels like you’re constantly waiting for a sunny day. You feel as if you have this black hole in the center of the fiber of your being that sucks everything out of you and leaves you with emptiness, sadness, guilt over even existing, hopelessness, loss of interest in things that once brought you joy and so much more. For those who don’t know what it’s like to deal with social anxiety, particularly in my case, it feels like you’re constantly being put under a microscope. If you do not deliver above and beyond your personal expectations, others will judge you harshly. They will ridicule you. They won’t like what you have to say. They will reject you. They will ignore you. They will ignore your intentions. They won’t care.
For those who don’t know what it’s like to have any of the symptoms of PTSD, even though I am not classified as a PTSD patient, it feels like you’re in a constant state of horror. Every turn you make, the thing you are most scared of will be there around the corner, waiting to pounce and devour you. In my particular case, people’s actions set off my PTSD tendencies, so I end up having reoccurring, relentless nightmares and flashbacks of situations that happened over 10 years ago. I end up being overly paranoid over just the littlest things. I end up losing lots of sleep over what seems small to others. I often avoid the things that set off my triggers, and frankly, there is a lot more I deal with that is so incredibly hard to describe to those who do not understand.
Through all of my sessions of therapy, I feel like one of the most important things I learned was that no matter who you are you are absolutely not alone. There are other people just like you who understand what you’re going through. They experience it day to day just as you do. They get it.
One of the things I struggled with the most throughout the process was the feeling that I was the only person to ever go through what I go through. Once I found individuals who understood what I was going through, it made my life so significantly easier. I didn’t have to explain myself. I didn’t have to apologize for wanting to go “the long way” to a certain class. I didn’t have to apologize for any of my oddities. Once people got it, they got it. They understand that you are struggling, and respect that you need to do what you need to do in order to stabilize yourself. They then became here for you.
So, I just wanted to say to all of those fellow students who are struggling with mental illness and are having a rough time—you are not alone. Reach out to others and explain your situation. The right kind of people will not judge you. They will listen intently, and make sure they can help you in any way, shape or form that they can. If they judge you? Please listen to me and know that when I say don’t waste your breath on them, I mean it. The world is big, and you will find others who can lift you up, not bring you down. You already struggle enough as it is, so why make yourself struggle more? And if you say to me in person that you cannot find someone who understands you, I will say that’s a lie, because I understand you and am here for you.