My Mental Health VS. College

Some of the worst times of my life have been experienced in my years at college. My mental health has depleted so far at times when getting out of bed is not an option and I need to send an email. I’ve never had to deal with a lot of chronic pain until college, and now it’s a matter of can I physically get out of bed today or can I walk by myself. There are nights where I can just sit at my computer, and racing through my head is this massive list of things I need to do, but I can’t will myself to do any of them. This spikes my anxiety even more and decreases my will to do anything. These tasks include being able to do simple things like making myself eat, or going to bed, or getting water. Like now, when I need to be doing some online homework but when I opened it, I started crying. So I closed it immediately and started writing.

But of course, the most important thing is that college will get you a certain job. Without college, I cannot get a teaching job, so, I need to go to college in order to do so. That’s the case with a lot of people and their majors. But, at what cost do we make by the time we finally get that degree? People say that at the end of your years of college, it’ll all be worth it. All the stress, all of the tears and late nights and fights with your friends or your significant other, all of it.

College is supposed to be a time of exploring and creating new friendships with people. They say it’s supposed to be the time of your life and everything will be better in college. In fact, so many people say that their mental health improved during college, saying that they found better coping mechanisms and now they don’t feel the way they used to. They say it gets better. I’m here to say, it only gets better for some. Not all.

Here’s an average day for me. Before I go to bed, which ranges from 10:30 p.m to 5:00 a.m, I set an alarm on my phone, over an hour before I need to get up, that has an endless supply of snoozes with 10-minute intervals. So now I wake up in the morning, and I hit the snooze button multiple times until it’s finally that time where I need to get out of bed. Sometimes, I just lay there, even after that final snooze button and I think, “What if I just go back to bed”. Then the fear of missing class and missing any assignments sink in and I start panicking. After calming down, I get out of bed and start to get ready. I make 5 cups of coffee and I drink half of it before I leave, and then I put the other half in a travel cup. I go to class and I sit there and do the average participation that I know I need in order to get my points for the day. I constantly look up at the clock and sometimes I have an urge to cry but I manage to calm myself and pay attention to what’s happening. Then I go to my next class where I put on a smile for friends that I see so I make sure that I don’t lose the friends I have. Sometimes people don’t always understand your mental health, and you need to make sure they’re taken care of before yourself. Or maybe that’s just my own philosophy. After this class, I usually have a lesson, which I have most likely practiced for, hopefully. Then I have rehearsals where, again, I put a smile on my face so I don’t look miserable and unapproachable. After rehearsals, it’s usually around 6:30 and I go back home. I make my first meal of the day and watch a few youtube videos. Then I do some homework and repeat.

A day like this is the best case scenario that could happen to me. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen. For instance, sometimes I can’t calm myself in the morning and I end up rushing to my class with not a minute to spare. Some days I don’t because I’ve made myself sick and am throwing up in the bathroom because of a panic attack. Sometimes, I won’t make any coffee at all and I’ll experience some of the worst migraines ever during my day because of my caffeine addiction. Some days, I’ll make 10 cups of coffee and drink it all before my class because I never went to bed. Some days, I can’t participate at all because if I even try to speak, I might completely break down or say something I don’t mean. And that’s if I even remember what I say because sometimes, I black out. Other times, I never make it to my other class because the first one was so draining. On the days I barely manage to get to the other class, I can’t smile at all and no one tries to talk to me. Which makes my mood plummet even more because I start blaming myself for everything. Occasionally, my lesson results in me crying and have a 30-minute therapy session instead of playing. No matter my mood though, I always force myself to go to rehearsals, but sometimes, my playing suffers and I mess up a lot. Which puts me on the spot especially if it’s a very soloistic part on harp, or percussion, or flute, etc. This results in another panic attack after rehearsals which usually happens as I walk back to my townhouse. Most days, I forget to make a meal for myself and usually just eat sunflower seeds in order to shut my stomach up and give myself something to do. Some days, I eat my entire week of groceries in one sitting. Some days I don’t do any homework at all and I just watch videos or tv shows, or I go to bed early, or I never go to bed. It’s a toss-up really. And whenever these days happen, I usually don’t tell anyone because I’m so ashamed of myself.

This is only my perspective, of course, this is not the same story of someone else suffering from a mental illness who goes to college. We’re all individuals and our stories are all different. The way I cope is going to be vastly different from someone else. Whereas my tendency is to cry when I’m alone because I have so many feelings built up, some people won’t be able to cry at all and shut down instead. When I end up shutting down from this large breakdown, I’m not able to reach any of my emotions. Which then becomes really helpful in doing homework because I’m suddenly on auto-pilot. Some days, the simplest things of people liking something of mine on social media or someone smiling at me or inviting me somewhere makes the difference on which mood I’m going to be in. Which is unfortunate. There are days where I have extreme highs, and suddenly at the drop of a dime, I’m at an extreme low. These can last for many days, for a few hours, or for a week. This is another issue where I need to make an appointment with a psychiatrist and get screened for something else (updates on that later, maybe). I can’t control it no matter how much exercise I do, or how much fruits and vegetables I eat, or how much sleep I get. I’m really glad that these simple activities work for some people, but they absolutely don’t work for me. No matter how much science is thrown at me about endorphins and dopamine etc, etc.

My point of this is, does it ever really get better? Is it truly worth it to do this to myself just for a degree? From my standpoint, I don’t have a choice. Going to college was a big deal for me and my family, and it’s cost us a lot. Teaching music is my dream. This is what I’ve always known I’m supposed to do because I love it so much and I’m good at it. The unfortunate thing is, is that there’s one class that isn’t going great for me and it’s required to graduate. The other unfortunate thing is that I have Auditory Processing Disorder which messes with the way my brain hears and processes sound. Anyone who knows me though knows that I can conduct an ensemble, I can tune, I can tell when someone is off in an ensemble and when it doesn’t quite sound right. Because I’ve found my ways throughout my life, but this doesn’t help me when it comes to dictating melodies by ear. I’ll write another post on that later, but it needed to be said in this one for just a moment because it’s currently a large source of anxiety and shame for me.

I know that I couldn’t have gone through this year without a support system. So I just want to thank a few people right now who have been vital in my being able to stay at college and not take time off. My boyfriend, Andrew. Who is one of the strongest people I have ever met in my life and deserves so much more than the world can give him. My closest friends, Krisanna, Anna, Claire, Josh, Radek, who have always been there all year to give me a smile or a hug when I most need it. There are a lot of other friends who have also been there for me in large struggles this year, I just don’t know if I can name all of them. My parents. I’m fortunate enough to be able to skype when I really need someone to talk to, or when I just need to see my dogs. I’m here because I don’t want to be able to disappoint these people who have put their time and effort into me. Unfortunately, that’s a bigger motivator than disappointing myself, but if it works for me right now, then I’ll keep going for it.

There are currently 32 days until Commencement. This is the time where I just about give up, but it’s also the most important time when I need to keep pushing myself forward. It’s a busy month of tests, papers, projects, concerts, recitals, and moving. I know that I can do it, it’s just going to be a long road getting there. One of the toughest so far in my years of college.

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What now?

Okay so picture this for me; you have a list of things that you need to do in order to make sure that your life is running accordingly. So you start checking each of them off, one by one, and then you get to the end of your list and you’re relieved because you finally finished it. But wait a second. Something is missing. You look back at number 6 on your list and realize that not only have you not done it, but it’s not even on your list anymore. It’s just been erased completely. So even though you know you should do something, you can’t because it’s gone.

Do I have you so far? Are you getting the imagery here or should I insert a picture for help?

  1. List
  2. List
  3. List
  4. List
  5. List
  6. .
  7. List
  8. List
  9. List
  10. List

Kind of like that. Does that make any sense? Obviously I’m not talking about an actual pen and paper list, I’m talking about the mental list that we all have in our head at all times. The one that helps us run accordingly and live our life. So I’ll ask again, what now? What are you supposed to do about that missing item on your list? Well you have a few options. I recommend going in order with these as I’ve felt they work best in this way. .

A. Lie/sit in bed and cry. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a good cry or needing to be alone, or needing someone there to give you an actual shoulder to cry on. Even though it ends up being their shoulder, and back and then the tears are just all over their shirt so you’re there apologizing for the leaky faucets that are your eyes. It’s casual.

B. Put yourself together and go outside. This could include class, or even to a coffee shop, or my personal favorite, the mall. Whoever said that you can’t solve your issues by buying a comfy sweater from a store has obviously not found their perfect sweater yet. I also recommend perhaps bringing along a friend to help you shop. Unless you don’t like people and you prefer shopping alone. Nothing wrong with that, I’m there with you most of the time on that stance.

C. Try to realize what other things you can do to fill that missing Number 6 slot. Perhaps it’s a new free time that you have found, or an old hobby you put off, or working early on homework to get ahead because you have nothing else to do. I recommend the homework because then you actually do get to have a sort of weekend and a break. It’s also an odd feeling to have Sunday come up and suddenly you aren’t scrambling to finish the 2 projects you completely put aside for 2 weeks in a span of 4 hours because now it’s 7 p.m and you wasted the whole Sunday saying you were going to start early but now you’re just going to be going to bed late. Or not going to bed at all. I have been here before numerous times. I highly recommend not doing the whole “no bed” thing. Sleep is needed. Even if it’s 3 hours or a quick power nap, it’s still needed.

D. Slip back into a deep depression that you know has been sneaking up on you slowly. Don’t fight it because then it’s just going to get worse. Embrace the heavy weight that you’ve been carrying and spend a day doing absolutely nothing. Perhaps find someone else to do absolutely nothing with, it could be nice. Or if you just want to be alone, then that’s okay too. It’s needed.

E. Finally, open up to people and accept that you don’t have to deal with everything on your own. The separate stresses that keep coming up along with current and past issues aren’t going to get better if you ignore them and keep going. Perhaps you need to occasionally do this, but when you have a moment, stop doing it. You’ll realize a lot of positives to this, even if it brings back step A and you’re suddenly bawling and apologizing again for your eyes.

Essentially, I’m saying the main theme of this whole endeavor features your people. These can include your friends, your acquaintances, your class friends (the friends who you only talk to in class – you know the ones I’m talking about), your family, or a support system in general. The way that you come out of this is all going to depend how you first deal with the missing item. You could let it control your actions and how your day is, or you could rise above it and find positives.

Personally, I enjoy working harder than ever and becoming stronger than anyone has ever seen me. Proving to myself my own worth, and then proving to others. Then again, that’s just me though.

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Judgement.

All my life, I’ve always thought myself to be a good character of judgment. I’ve been confident in the people I trust and who I let into my life, but looking back, there’s been a few times where I’ve been wrong. The thing with this is, is it my fault for trusting them or their fault for the wrongs they’ve done?

I’m sure we’ve all had that moment where we’ve had to say goodbye to someone. Maybe it was a close friend or someone we were romantically involved with. Either way, we’ve had to let people walk out of our life. Sometimes we ask them to go, sometimes we tell them to go and they refuse, sometimes they leave on their own with no warning, and other times it’s a mutual understanding.

Some people would say that it’s giving up on them, I say it’s giving up on something toxic.

Occasionally, we never see it until it’s too late and the damage has already been done. But, the damage can also be what builds us up and helps make us a better person.

Throughout my life, I’ve let a lot of friendships go. Some of them dissolved on their own, some of them I broke off for different reasons, and others just left. Do I miss these friendships? Yes and no. Let me explain why.

I miss the memories, and the feelings that were there during that friendship. I miss the good times that happened and the bond with another person. I don’t miss that person though. I am able to separate the memories and feelings from the actual person. This is especially important when it is someone extremely toxic and hurtful.

As for relationships, well there are some people I still talk to, and some people I do not. I think that’s fairly normal for some people. I bare no ill will to any of them what so ever, because it’s happened and I’ve moved on. Those connections have helped make me who I am today, so I don’t regret any of them that happened.  It allows me to move on; to find someone who I connect with and care about.

I bring this topic up because I found a box of mementos last night in my closet. It was full of letters and drawings from people I still talk to, and people I haven’t spoken to or seen in years. I reminisced over the memories that those brought, and I shed a few tears for something that was lost. I looked at journals and read what my life was like at certain times. I spent half the time yelling at younger me and half the time cheering for younger me. I saw the pain that I wrote about when something happened, and it made me realize that at the time, I never thought I would feel anything other than sorrow or anger. But here I am, and I feel none of those things anymore.

Going back to my original question, is it my fault for trusting them or their fault for the wrongs they have done? It depends. I try not to blame myself for trusting people, because I obviously trusted them for  reason. As for their fault with the wrongs? Depends on the wrongs. Because I know I have done some wrongs in my life, but I know I haven’t done a despicable wrong. If someone has purposely and intentionally hurt you, that is their fault. It is not your fault. You are not required to keep in contact with someone who has hurt you. No matter what.

It’s been a difficult few days and this has been weighing heavily on my mind for a few weeks so I decided to write. I started this article out crying and not being able to breathe really. Now I’m calm and relaxed. I feel better. All I can hope is that this can help anyone. That’s really what my goal is for anything I write.

Yes I write because it makes me feel better and I can put everything I need to into words, but I also write in the hope that maybe someone else who is in a similar situation can find some solace in this. It’s only a hope.

But it’s a hope I’m willing to believe in.

I would just like to take a moment and thank a few people. I would like to thank my friends who have stuck by my side and are there for me no matter how much or little we speak or see each other. I would like to thank some family for being supportive and being able to show me the positives when I cannot see them myself. I would like to thank a few specific people, but not by name. Thank you for believing in me, and giving me something to believe in. Thank you for caring for me and allowing me to be apart of your life. I am so very grateful for the people that I have in my life at the moment. When I look at the bigger picture, it doesn’t look as bad as some days feel. This is because of you. So thank you, all of you.

I love you.

 

 

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In, and Out.

The chest tightens to the point of shallow breath

As if there are 100 tons pressing down on your chest

Remember to breathe, back to the basics

In, and out.

Words are being said and mouths are moving

But all I hear is a buzzing in my ear

Take another breath, close your eyes if you have to

Grab someone’s hand and allow them to pick you up

Wrap your arms around yourself and hold tight

In, and out.

In, and out.

It’s not your fault, don’t keep blaming yourself

Don’t be your punching bag

Distract your thoughts and clear your mind

But be kind

Be kind to yourself

Don’t throw all you have away

It’s not your fault

In, and out

Don’t be ashamed of your feelings

Try to understand them

Talk through them

Help solve them

In, and out.

You’re not alone

Don’t feel alone

But how can you not when you’re blaming yourself

All you can do is the basics

In, and out.

In, and out.

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The Disadvantages of Being Your Own Savior

Savior. Noun.

a person who saves someone or something from danger

Late Latin “salvare” – to save

For these past few years, I’ve had to be my own savior. I’ve had to be the one to save myself from the clutches of my mind and the remnants of memories I choose to repress. I’ve been the one to stand up for myself against people who have judged me, bullied me, physically harmed me, sexually assaulted me, emotionally damaged me, and have purposely set out to hurt me. And let me tell you something.

It’s exhausting.

In the past, I used to be a very openly emotional person. Freely expressing happiness, anger, sadness, excitement, etc. Then came certain people and they gave me lessons that made me realize that it was my weakness. So I built up my walls, poured cement in between, and never looked back. I became a stone, I became strong, but mostly, I became someone who never showed their feelings.

This was a mistake.

I never meant to do it on purpose, but when enough people have hurt you over and over again in many different ways emotionally, physically, and mentally, there becomes no choice. I was stuck in that place of trying to decide how to protect myself, how to save myself from these people. So I became my own savior by repressing my emotions and hiding from people. I became emotionally disconnected with friends and my family. I never opened up to them when I needed help because I knew that the only person I could depend on was me. Ultimately, that’s how my experience has been.

No one has ever stood up for me. Ever.

I never had anyone tell another person off who was hurting me, nor did I ever have anyone be able to stand up and fight for me. What does that even feel like? I have no idea. I’m always the one who has to stand up and fight for myself.

The only problem is that when I do, it’s written off as me having a breakdown.

How messed up is that? I stand up for myself and suddenly I’m made to feel bad for doing so. I’m made to feel that my emotions aren’t important enough to be heard. I’m made to feel that I am somehow below people constantly. I’m made to feel like the secondary person. That everything I say can’t be taken seriously because I’m not the standard of society’s “normal” concerning mentality.

It’s bullshit. Plain and simple. It’s bullshit.

People who make you feel like you have done something wrong, or make you feel like you are the second choice, or make you feel like you will never achieve anything higher than where you are. What purpose do they get out of constantly hurting someone on purpose? What kind of person wakes up in the morning and actively hurts someone and then justifies it with an excuse for something they did? It’s people like this that cause my dilemma. They’re the ones who make it a disadvantage of being my own savior.

Because sometimes, you’re pushed down so much, that you can’t keep crawling out of the hole. I want someone to stand up for me, to give me that hand and lift me up.

I don’t know what that feels like, but I wish people could grow a backbone and stand up for others. I just can’t understand people who don’t do that. That’s the way I live by, I can’t sit around and watch someone get treated terribly. I will step in and help them, that’s just who I am. I won’t stay quiet when coming to their defense. I make sure I’m someone’s “person”. But here’s the thing.

Where is my person?

Do I not deserve one? Have I somehow committed so many wrongs and deserve the cruelty from so many people?

I think the worse part is that some people will read this and think that what I’m saying isn’t valid or justified. If you’re that person, I respect that you have an opinion. But you’re wrong.

There are secrets I have told no one, there are experiences I can barely remember because they’re pushed so far back. I deal with all of this on my own, I try not to ask for help because I have been conditioned not to. There are so many repercussions with how I deal with everything. It may just be because the current school year is ending for me, but my severe depression has felt like 10 tons of concrete laying on top of my chest for the past 3 months and it is taking everything I have not to show how much it is affecting me. I’m sure I seem more stressed and sad, but no one, and I mean no one, is aware of how much I have been holding myself together with strength and will.

I might seem like I’m okay, but trust me, I am not.

Again, that’s my fault because I don’t open up to people fully because I’m afraid of the on slot of emotions that will come spilling out of me. I’m afraid I will push people away if they truly knew how I was doing.

So I protect other people from myself, and I try to save myself all on my own.

This isn’t a noble task. It isn’t cool to not care. You wanna know what’s something to admire? Someone who shows their emotions and feelings and is able to go through the day and not lie to people. I wish I could be that person. I wish I didn’t have the constant responsibility of keeping everything on my shoulders, but that’s who I am. I’m my own savior. I’m my person.

But that isn’t working out so well anymore.

I recognize that I can’t keep doing this to myself, it’s surely not good for my health nor is it going to get me any good favors in living longer. If you see someone struggling, help them. Because the people that seem that they’re doing okay despite everything, are barely surviving and screaming out for someone to help them. For someone to stand up for them. Everyone wants their own hero. I just want to stop being my only savior.

 

 

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Change for the Modern Day Angry Person

usually-when-people-are-sad-they-dont-do-anything-they-just-cry-over-their-condition-but-when-they-get-angry-they-bring-about-a-change

Before I start this off, yes you read that title correctly. There are no typos or wrong words, that is what this is about. There ultimately not one main story in this, there isn’t going to be a specific topic I’m going to focus on. This is for the people who are angry and don’t know what to do. For the people who are angry about things, they’re told they should just let go. Well, I’m going to let go. Let go of the feelings and reactions I have to various things here.

“One thing the gay rights movement taught the world is the importance of being visible.” – Charles M. Blow

There was recently a special on TV during my Spring Break. It was called When We Rise and it was one of the most amazing things I have watched in my entire life. If you have no idea what I’m talking about or have not heard about it, go watch it. It will change your life. It starts off in the 1970’s and goes all the way into 2016 and talks about the struggles that the LGBTQIA community faced when it first started campaigning and continues to face in our modern day society. This is all based on true stories of a boy named Cleeve Jones who became the leading activist for LGBT, Navy Sailor Ken Jones who became an organizer for African American communities as well as being an activist for the LGBT community, Roma Guy who surged through the Women’s Right Movement and split it in half by joining the Lavender Menace, and Celia Chung who became a strong Transgender Activist and an even stronger Woman in Power. This show starts with the Stonewall Riots in 1969 and continues into the AIDS epidemic in the 80’s and keeps storming through into Bill Clinton’s presidency of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell as well as the Supreme Court Ruling on Marriage Equality and leaves off with the current struggle for Transgender Rights and the threats of current government administrators. This show made me want to take up a sign and riot. This show made me angry that I had not done enough for this community; that I only displayed compassion but had no direct actions for it. I feel that modern day society has so many people talking about the change they want to make, or about how angry they are that something is happening, but no one does anything because either they don’t care enough, or they’re too afraid of the reactions that could come from it. So watch this show. Watch it if you want to become educated, watch it if you want to feel empowered to do something, watch it if you want to develop compassion for those in the community, watch it if you disagree with everything about it. Just watch it. Because for the love of everything, MAKE THE STRUGGLE KNOWN. ONE STRUGGLE. ONE FIGHT.

“Some people think mental illness is a matter of mood, a matter of personality. They think depression is simply a form of being sad, that OCD is a form of being uptight. They think the soul is sick, not the body. It is, they believe, something that you have some choice over.” – David Levithan

This one is going to touch on Mental Illness in a different way in which I have not spoken. If someone is going to talk about Mental Illness, I would expect this person to either suffer from one, know someone suffering, or be educated. If someone is speaking about Mental Illness with no education or experience with it, let me be frank here. I don’t want to hear it. You wouldn’t trust someone without a medical background to diagnose you with cancer, would you? Then why the hell, are people listening to others who have no education or experience with Mental Illness and taking that as the Gospel to follow. Let me also ask this, who do people think they are telling someone what to do when they have no experience with it? If I could have a dollar for everytime someone told me to “Get over it” or “Just be happy” then I wouldn’t be taking out a loan for my loans right now. It is absolutely ridiculous how people deem themselves the right and proper person to talk about something that they have no idea about. Especially in a society where Mental Illness is still looked down upon and not taken seriously. Oh, society has come leaps and bounds from where it was before, but this does not make it okay. People in society still believe that people with Mental Illness are faking it, or just need to move on with their life. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of having people pretend to know what they’re talking about, I’m tired of people pushing others around because they think they’re superior because of mentality, I’m tired of people who look down on others with Mental Illness, but mostly, I’m tired of people who try to invalidate one’s mental illness. If you have ever done this, how dare you. How do you manage to speak without any empathy or understanding for anything but your own life? There are so many resources out there for people to educate themselves on every topic, so there is no excuse for your ignorance and unkind doings. Ask questions, look topics up, increase your knowledge. Do something for crying out loud instead of just sitting there and making people feel bad for something they can’t control. Don’t look down on someone who can’t get out of bed to do anything one day, don’t look down on someone who you don’t know. If you’re so concerned with everyone else’s decisions and lifestyles and have a negative opinion for everything, do you have a life of your own that you’re living or do you just assume that this is your own world and everyone else is just living in it?

“Change your thoughts and you change your world.” – Norman Vincent Peale

I have been working on myself lately, and I have vowed to start making more of a difference. To start taking a stand and defending my own points of view. To start fighting for rights that are not there. If I can help one person in this world, then I have made one difference for someone. I’m tired of being sad, I’m ready to be angry. This isn’t to say I’m not still going to be sad because that’s just how Depression works and I can’t remember ever not being sad, but I’m going to be angry as well. There are going to be my days where I can’t get out of bed and where I can’t think of any thoughts other than negative ones, but for the days where I’m doing okay, I’m going to start doing something. I’m going to bring up points in class if I disagree with something, and I’m going to go to protests and rallies that are planned because nothing is getting done with everyone being afraid of offending others. Go out and do something, make a donation, volunteer, educate yourself, protest, rally, march, call your Senators if something upsetting is going through the government. The time for people to be angry is now. We have the means to change and the amount of compassion to act, we just need to actually do it. If you don’t see any injustice in the world, then maybe you need to look in the mirror; because you might be apart of it.

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An Open Letter To My Professors About My Mind

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Dear Professors,

Hey, how’s it going? You all know my name and we get along really well which is great. I love going to a small liberal school where I can get to know my professors so well. I enjoy our conversations about what I’m doing in my free time and our similar interests. Sadly, there’s something I need to talk about. Here at our small liberal art school, we have the “happy” student. Well, my dear professors, I am not that happy student and I’m scared to tell most of you about it.

When I come into your class, you probably see this girl who looks a little tired but has a large coffee and muffin with her. You know, the typical college student. But there are some things that you don’t see.

You don’t see that I had to rush to get out of bed and get ready because it was so hard for me to get up and do something. When all I want to do is lie there and cry most days. You don’t see that I have that muffin because of my idiocy where I down all of my medications with water and then realize I need food in my body before I get sick. I have that coffee because I honestly can’t stay awake without caffeine. It’s an actual addiction, I’ll get severe headaches if I don’t grab coffee. You don’t see how little time I actually spend on myself in the morning and how that’s a huge accomplishment for me because I don’t obsess about every single thing I’m wearing or how I look. You don’t see the constant wheels turning in my head about every assignment I have to do today or everything I wasn’t able to complete. You don’t see me having a panic attack because I try my hardest to repress it from people. You don’t see me flinch when someone hands me something or see my hand clench up when someone I don’t know sits behind me. The funny thing is, if you look at where I always sit in class, it’s normally the back where I can lean on the wall. And if it’s not, then there’s someone I trust and care about sitting behind me instead. You aren’t able to closely look at me because if you did, you would see the deep circles underneath my eyes that are from the constant night terrors I have when I’m alone. You would see my hands and the scars that are scattered on the surface. You also aren’t able to see the absolute misery in my eyes some days or the panic. You don’t see that I reward myself for just getting up in the morning or getting through the night alone. You would also see makeup on my hands, arms and mainly around my eyes that I use to make sure you can’t see any of it. But sometimes I break and I can’t keep up this facade.

Last week a professor was next to me as I was having a severe panic attack while doing an individual assessment. I pretty much failed it, but I have no idea if he knew what was happening. A few weeks ago I had a complete breakdown and had to e-mail my professors that I wasn’t going to be in class because I had to go home and get help. One of those professors was so concerned that they contacted campus security and had them go check on me. The next time that professor saw me I was back in their class and was struggling to not break down because I had come back too soon. I had to go tell another professor I couldn’t participate in class because I already had 7 panic attacks during the day and I couldn’t get up in front of people. It was 10:30 a.m that day. The total of panic attacks for the rest of the day was in the double digits. I had to tell my professors what happened, but I left out a few details because some of them don’t deserve to hear everything I feel. No one deserves to have to listen to everything of that situation.

None the less, my dear professors, you also have no idea what some of your actions mean to me. When you agree with something I say in class, it raises my confidence so I can try it again. When you let me take a break in class, it means the world to me that you don’t think I’m just overreacting. When you use something I wrote as an assignment as an example in class, I can feel my confidence raise up a few percents because I know I did something right for once. When you ask me how I’m doing, it shows to me that you actually genuinely care, because you didn’t have to stay late and talk to me, you could’ve gone back to your office or could have gone home. You also have no idea what it means when I know that you notice the scars, or the deep circles, or the panic or misery in my eyes, and you continue on without pity for me. That means the most.

So, thank you. Thank you for being there and thank you for not making it a big deal. But sometimes I can’t always come to class and sometimes my assignments might be a day late, and I’m sorry. I’m trying my best I really am. But sometimes my best is just waking up in the morning, and that’s okay. Thank you for being people I can talk to.

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