Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Original Illustration by Gina Escandon for Her Campus Media
Wellness > Mental Health

Navigating Mental Health in College

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Bradley U chapter.

Coming Up For Air

I used to have vivid dreams I was drowning. I remember being jolted awake in my twin XL dorm bed, my hands hitting the low U-Hall ceiling as I gasped for air. I’d sputter for a moment, my brain trying to catch up with reality: I was fine. I wasn’t drowning. Even though it sure did feel like I was. 

This went on for a month before I sought help. And I’m no stranger to therapy: six therapists and one diagnosis later I am all too familiar with cushy couches, overstuffed pillows and perfectly positioned tissue boxes. I’m a crier, so tissues are a necessity. Still, every time I find myself struggling with my anxiety it feels like I’ve failed. It’s terrifying to accept that anxiety is lifelong. There’s no magic potion, miracle pill or all knowing therapist that’ll make it go away. It’s a constant, ever present force within me, and perhaps in a lot of you too. 

Mental health is hard because it’s persistent, like a bad rash that never really goes away. When people break bones or tear muscles, they put on casts, or maybe even braces, go to physical therapy and rest. And after a few months, they’re cured. Sometimes we mistake mental health for that too: something that can be cured. 

In reality, it can’t, and that might sound negative or bleak but it’s not. The way we as a society go about managing our mental health isn’t working. We wait until a person is in crisis, spiraling, before we encourage them to seek help. Instead of thinking of our mental health as a one time fix, a bandaid over a cut, we need to start thinking of it as a routine. 

Do you brush your teeth and expect them to be shiny, white and cavity free? Of course not. They’re routine maintenance, something we have to take care of daily and check up on every few months at the dentist. If we start to think of our mental health as a continuous journey, something we have to check in every day and occasionally seek further help for, it won’t feel like failure when we struggle. But instead, it’ll be expected. Of course I go to the dentist every 6 months. Of course I see my therapist when I’m struggling. 

I don’t dream of drowning anymore, and even though I still have my fair share of worries, I have my anxiety in check. But sometime in the (hopefully distant) future I’ll find myself trying to come up for air again, but this time I’ll know it’s okay. I’ll know it’s okay to ask for help even after we’ve previously sought it. 

Your mind is a garden, each thought a hesitant flower. Start to water it, and watch how they begin to bloom.

Izzy Fontane

Bradley U '24

Hi, I'm Izzy! I usually have a million ideas, opinions & hot takes circling around my head so I thought why not share them. Enjoy! xx