The month of May was Mental Health Awareness Month, and throughout the entire time, I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve been doing about my mental health since I first started my journey with depression two years ago.
I have had depression on and off since I was 13. Since I’ve been coming to college it has become more present.
Mental health on college campuses is beginning to be seen as a more prominent issue, as 94 percent of college campuses are reporting an increase of students who are looking for help from counseling centers, from the 60 percent of schools who have either a psychiatrist on staff or a counseling center.
I started going to the University’s counseling center during the fall of 2014. I went to the walk-in hours and was given a wonderful counselor who helped me through what was potentially the hardest college year to date.
My grandfather passed away a day before the wedding of my oldest cousin, and we ended up having a wedding and a funeral in the same weekend. I was able to work through the necessary grief process with her and was able to handle his loss better than I had the losses of other loved ones during my years at school.
In spring 2015, I decided I was comfortable enough to participate in group counseling. I was able to talk to and associate with other peers who were going through or had went through similar issues I was facing on multiple fronts both inside and outside of my mind.
I had gotten so much support through counseling about the importance of standing up for myself and advocating for things I wanted and needed for myself. However, that support didn’t keep me from not wanting to get up in the morning or from not wanting to do menial tasks, such as cleaning, or even doing important things such as going to the bank, paying bills or money orders.
There were (and still are) days that I would be dragging my feet to do something and when I would finally do it, I would not give 100 percent, as much as I would want to and would want to push myself. It was hard to sit down for an extended period of time to take a break to do errands, because I knew if I sat down for just one moment, I would not be standing back up for an extended period of time.
Last summer was my first time in 22 years being independent and on my own. And I thought the depression was from a lack of hours at my job, or a lack of just overall activity and boredom that sometimes comes with the BG summer. But I tried everything: reading, writing, doing overtime for the summer BG News. But nothing worked.
Ultimately at the end of the summer, I decided to be prescribed antidepressants.
At first I was terrified. In my hometown, addiction (especially in opioids which are found in prescription painkillers) is running rampant and it is killing people at an alarming rate nationally. I was also worried the first medication he would give me to try wouldn’t work. But my doctor encouraged me to just try it and if I did not like it, we could always find a different way and that if this pill didn’t work, we could always try something else.
So before fall 2015, I made the decision to take antidepressants and I have not looked back since. Unfortunately, adjusting to the medication this past year has been detrimental to my grades and GPA, (I failed two classes; one each semester), but I am very excited to be back on track to come back from the semester fresh.
I still have days where I don’t want to do anything and I don’t want to get out of bed. I even still struggle with doing menial chores on some days. But it’s all a little more manageable with antidepressants.
If you are struggling with any type of mental illness, I encourage you to not only seek help, but to find the help that works for you as an individual. For me, it was counseling and taking antidepressants that has helped me battle this. Everyone struggles with mental illness differently so my methods of getting better are not the same as my significant other, who has social anxiety, or my friend in my hometown who suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder. Even those who have depression as I do may also find that my method of getting better does not fit them, but my method of getting better is not the same as everyone else’s.
It is always important to find the way that works for you.
This column originally printed by independent student media publication, The BG News, on June 1, 2016 which can be found here.