We see a lot of nonsense online, people trying to tell us that mental health issues are just a phase or trend and that those of us who say we suffer from anxiety/depression/etc are just faking it, trying to be trendy, or (my personal favorite) just want to be a "special snowflake". *insert massive eyeroll*
Can we just talk about the ridiculousness of that last one? Snowflakes are wonderful because they're beautiful and unique, no two snowflakes are exactly the same. Seriously, who wouldn't want to be a snowflake?! Every human being is special and beautiful and unique. So, hate to break it to the critics, but we're all special snowflakes. Each and every one of us. And if mental health is becoming a bigger topic of conversation these days, it's not because it's a new "trend", it's because more people are finally being brave enough to share their experiences and speak up about this topic. It's not a new topic, we're just finally getting more vocal about it.
|Seriously, who wouldn't want to be something so pretty?!|
|Grad school really does bring it's own special brand of anxiety.|
|My time in Oxford, over both summers spent there, were huge learning experiences for me personally. They weren't all easy lessons, but I wouldn't trade those summers for anything.|
I went to campus to get my consultation/referral, I had switched to campus healthcare so I had to go through them to find someone off campus. I delayed going for a couple months. I switched providers in August, I didn't go to the counseling center until October, and only after having a really bad panic attack. I went in for the consultation thinking of the last therapist I'd seen there and how I hoped they could find me someone like her but off campus and able to see me long term. That's when my mental health miracle happened.
That therapist was now working off campus, was covered by my provider, was able to start seeing me the following week, AND her office was 5 minutes down the road from my apartment.
It was too much to just be a coincidence.
That was back in late October. I'd was worried she wouldn't be able to see me until after Thanksgiving, but she had something that following week, which meant we had a good couple months to work together before Christmas and my trip to London with my mom and sister. After our first appointment we decided to meet twice a week, which at the time made me feel like, "wow, I must be worse than I thought," but after some time it made a lot of sense and made the sessions so much more productive. At some point I'll probably switch to once a week but even now, several months later, I'm not ready yet. You'd think by now I'd understand myself better but I'm learning with each day that I'm much more complex than I give myself credit for. We all are.
The difficulty with mental health is there's no quick fix. Medication can help with some things, but it doesn't solve everything. Therapy is great but it takes a ton of time! You have to work through all the issues, including things that you might have already dismissed as not important. You think the problem is ABC but you get into it and realize it's also XYZ. I'm not brave enough to get into all the things that she and I are working on, but one day I will be. The more I got into therapy the more I felt like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. I'm still exploring Wonderland and discovering all sorts of crazy things, but I'm also gaining all the knowledge I'll need to eventually climb back out of the rabbit hole. I'm learning to be patient and to be compassionate towards myself. To be quiet and listen to my inner voice that I've been stifling and silencing for too long. It's not an easy process, nor is it a quick one, but it's worth the time and energy and bravery that each session requires.
I still struggle with being open about my experiences. In some situations I just don't feel safe talking about my mental health. Not everyone understands and there are still a lot of people who think we're making it all up. I'm not entirely sure those people are as happy as they pretend. Not everyone struggles with severe mental health issues, but I think everyone falls somewhere on the spectrum. Some people really can make themselves feel better by thinking positively or meditating or exercising. Some of us need extra help. There's no shame in that.
I always say, if you're just having a bad day or a bad week, play your favorite music, try meditation, try thinking happy thoughts. But if your bad day or week has turned into a bad month which has turned into a bad year which has turned into you honestly can't remember the last time you were truly happy?......go see someone, as soon as possible. Go see your doctor, go through the referral process for a therapist, go see the counseling services at your school, do whatever you have to do but just do it. You deserve to be happy. And don't listen to anyone who tells you otherwise. Yes, life is tough and you're going to have bad days, but you should be having more good days than bad so if you're not, get yourself the help you need and deserve. You are a special, beautiful, unique, magical snowflake and that is a good thing. You are precious and loved and wanted. And it really does get better.