As a competitive athlete of 12+ years and a full time student, I’ve never really taken time to “slow down”. I’ve spent the entirety of my life gritting my teeth and plowing through difficulties both emotional and physical. It wasn’t until I went home for the summer clinically depressed and unable to go to school that I finally made the decision to take a quarter “off” of school.
I still wanted to graduate on time, but I knew it would be impossible for me to pass classes that I actually had to attend. Luckily, I was able to enroll in online courses and do my work from home. I understand that this isn’t an option for every student even though I desperately wish that it was.
I needed the break. I wouldn’t be functioning without that time of recovery and intense focus on repairing my mental health.
A person’s early 20s are extremely stressful. There’s so much expectation on our shoulders, and life on the quarter system seems almost too fast to take a breath before the arrival of the next midterm.
I learned the harsh reality of mental illness. Mental illness isn’t like a strained muscle. Mental illness is a broken leg. If you rest for two days, that bone will not repair itself. No matter how you try to wrap it up and walk on it, you will suffer until the injury is addressed and taken care of. It will take months, but it will get better. Mental illness is a broken bone that you can’t see. You simply cannot carry on trying to tough out what you are dealing with. It wasn’t until I finally got help and took months “off” that I was finally able to make significant progress and find hope in my life again.
If you’re reading this and you’re struggling with your mental health right, now-please get help. Don’t spend another second of your precious college years in a state of unhappiness. I know from experience that happiness feels unattainable, but I am proof that you will find it again. Reach out, get help and don’t lose hope. Happiness is real. Progress is real. You are significant. Sometimes all you need is a few months to repair.
Mental health needs to be prioritized in order to make progress. Take care of yourself. XOXO