Facing the Music About My Mental Health
Persistence is the way of the college student. Through sleepless nights, overdue assignments, and extracurricular activities, we always find a way to keep going. But add on mental health problems, and it gets a little complicated.
I’ve struggled with my mental health since the 4th or 5th grade. While I admit I had a few friends and wasn’t really bullied, I felt a profound sense of isolation. My intrusive thoughts were overwhelming and I thought there was something very wrong with me. Until recently, I didn’t have any clue what was going on, thanks to misdiagnoses and poorly matched therapists.
Starting college with the same issues that had sent me into online schooling many years ago was daunting. Much to my surprise, though, freshman year was good. I was very happy to be free of online schooling. I was prone to bouts of depression, but to be quite honest, I was just too busy to make my mental health my focus.
It wasn’t until students were allowed on campus again after the COVID-19 lockdown that I had to face the music. I wasn’t seeing a therapist for my issues, the medicine my primary doctor prescribed wasn’t working, and I still had no idea what was going on. I didn’t even have time to focus on myself with all the classes I was taking. In freshman year, I had my friends to keep me occupied, but eventually, most of them went their own ways, as people do. Without the distraction of seeing a rotating group of people every single day, I was struggling.
I had always been a good student, but I was having trouble behind the scenes, and still do in some regards. I ended up withdrawing from two math courses and failing another at a community college. I have probably sent dozens of apology emails for late work, and to this day, get work in late fairly often.
I still have to cancel on my friends constantly due to my chronic pain and anxiety, which fills me with even more anxiety. When I get work done, I’m wracked with Imposter Syndrome. I could go on and on.
But I’m doing better. I resisted at first, but eventually, I walked into Counseling Services and talked about what was going on. I got an appointment with the onsite psychiatrist. While I don’t utilize Counseling Services anymore, going gave me the confidence to seek more long-term help, which I now have.
It took a really long time, but I learned to set reasonable expectations with the help of my therapist and friends on campus that know to hold me accountable. I am still learning that I don’t have to sacrifice my mental health to be perfect, and if that means my paper isn’t as developed as I want it to be or I have to say no to something, then that’s okay. Sometimes progress comes in small steps, but taking one is what really matters.
It may not sound like much, but something I’m very proud of is that I’m finally being honest with myself. Ignoring my mental health by distracting myself did nothing but prolong my problems.