Asking For Help - Even When You Feel Like You Don't Deserve It

 

“For years, my identity relied on

Appearing smart and strong

Overcoming what life threw my way

Claiming with pride that I needed no aid

There was no use for an umbrella in the rain

Because I could step around the puddles

And although I would get drenched

It was good enough

But now the puddles are a tsunami

Crashing down in my mind

With no one to blame but I

So I pick up my heavy head

And slowly navigate through life

My eyes down, and my spine coiled

Echoing left, right, left, right

As if I will forget how to walk

Afraid of tripping over my own feet

That the baggage will weigh me down

And will collapse for the world to see

I still believe that there is strength in this

A tactic at which most would fail

But why must I permit self-torture

When I look around at bruised peers

Who set down their bags together

And so easily, allow themselves to run?”

 

I wrote this poem moments after being sent forms to apply for services from Emory's Office of Accessibility (OAS). I looked through pages upon pages of information and thought to myself, "this isn’t for me, I am not struggling with anything SO terrible that I would need these kinds of accommodations", and with that, I closed the tab after only writing my name. 

It's no secret that there is a huge stigma about mental health, and I am definitely not immune to the desire to work through my issues alone. But we must stop and think,  at what point is this doing more harm than good?

We go to Emory. I get it, we were overachievers in high school and are now at an extremely difficult institution trying to keep up with our peers. You start off the first semester with your summer body and a sparkle in your eyes, so excited to see your best friends again and anticipating your new courses. Yet midterms come as quickly as an Iced Blue Donkey goes down, and you start to feel overwhelmed. Old habits come back, and you get less sleep, feel less confident, and that one B+ on a QTM100 assessment (gosh, if only) sends you into a spiral. Well, I am here to tell you that it is okay to fail. I am here to tell you this so I will take the advice myself. It’s okay to fail and need a hand to get back up. It’s okay to fail and need another minute on the ground. But it’s not okay to stay there, you deserve better.

Not to sound preachy, but I know that if you are going through a rough patch, it's highly unlikely you'll find yourself giving a self-motivation pep talk. It’s hard. Yet you must remember that whatever you are going through, your incredible mind and body that got you here is worthy of getting the right help to get better.

Going through OAS is not something to be ashamed of. 

According to Emory University’s OAS webpage, “OAS is committed to advancing an accessible and ‘barrier-free’ environment for students, faculty, staff, patients, guests, and visitors by ensuring that the principles of access, equity, inclusion, and learning are realized in and by the Emory community.”

Going through OAS is not getting a step up from everyone else. If your mental or physical issue is affecting you enough to even check out the OAS webpage, you deserve help. Illness is not always something that we can overcome on our own, and if we can, it may take months or years. That’s hours you could have spent in the library preparing for your final exam, instead of hours at Grady hospital. That’s minutes spent eating at the Dobbs Common Table, instead of lying alone in a Twin XL bed. Going through OAS might just help yourself get on the same level as everyone else.

Living on a college campus may feel like a competition for who can be the most unhealthy - and you don't need to win. Love yourself enough to be able to do what is best for you.