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My Experience With Mental Illness

Imagine dog paddling in a dirty pool. The rust-colored water has the consistency of day-old condensed soup. You try to keep yourself from sinking, but your arms and legs are exhausted. Soon, the water is at your mouth and it seeps between your sealed lips. It tastes like cold instant coffee mixed with vinegar. Even though you want stop swimming all together, you continue to wade through the brown water.

I feel this is an accurate description of what it is like to have a mental illness: it is a constant battle to keep from drowning.

I have depression and anxiety. It runs in my family. Some days, I find it difficult to leave my bed, let alone my house. Some days, I just want to sleep. Some days, I just want to scream.

College is not a kind place for those who have a mental illness. You are expected to study throughout the night. It's hard to cope when you feel your future is based on how well you write a 12-page paper. If you slip up, you are not easily forgiven. That being said, one in four college students suffer from mental illness.

In the past, my depression and anxiety has negatively impacted my friendships, relationships and academic performance. Due to this, I have sought out help. I have tried one-on-one therapy and group. I didn't like either. With one-on-one, I would get too anxious. I have a difficult time talking about my issues, especially for an entire hour. With group, I would always feel worse once the session ended. Hearing how much my fellow group members suffered hurt me.

Now I want to be clear, I am not bashing therapy. I know it is effective for some. This is simply my own experience.

I should also mention, I'm currently not medicated. I'm sure I would feel better if I took something, but I am too nervous to actually go see a doctor. Isn't that ridiculous? 

Due to these factors, I feel like I am not in a position to recommend remedies or coping mechanisms to those who also suffer from mental illness. It would be hypothetical, as at this moment, I don't do much for my own. However, right now I feel fine. Right now, I am floating.

My wonderful support system is the reason for my buoyancy.  I have friends who understand what I'm going through and openly share their own experiences. I have parents who want the best for me and will rescue me when I feel my head going below the waterline. I have a significant other who is kind when I panic and shows me pictures of puppies when I'm sad. In this regard, I am very lucky and very privileged.

To those of you who have mental illness, take care of yourself and reach out if you ever need help. Everything will be fine. You are so good. You are worth so much. You deserve happiness and love. I know it's hard, but please keep treading water.

I am a 3rd year English here at Cal Poly. I have a passions for all things pop culture, dogs and feminism.
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