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A Day in the Life of Mental Illness

May is Mental Illness Awareness Month. Personally I struggle with anxiety (which for me is mostly panic attacks) and it comes comorbid with trichotillomania. Trichotillomania is on the impulse control spectrum (like kleptomania) and consists of impulsively pulling out hair, specifically my eyelashes. I’ve been struggling with mental illness since I was in elementary school. Since my illnesses have been mild, I choose to forgo medication. However it’s something I’ve looked into if I ever get to a point where I felt like I needed it. Here’s what an average day in my life is like. 

8:00 AM– My alarm goes off. I didn’t sleep well the night before because I was up late thinking about finals and the three quizzes and one project i have to get done before I leave campus next week. I stay in bed for the next 15 minutes, not wanting to get up

8:15 AM– My morning routine stays somewhat the same everyday. I found that taking the time out of my day to have a consistent routine helps with my anxiety. Once I get up I do the basics like, brush my teeth and hair, put my contacts in, and pick out an outfit. Next I do my makeup. How much I put on depends on how much time I have, but I almost always put on mascara and fill in my eyebrows. My trich hasn’t been a major issue for a few years now but it still does wonders for my confidence. 

9:10 AM– I grab my laptop, throw it in my backpack, then grab my keys, phone and some breakfast to eat in my first class. I double check to make sure I have everything. 

10:45 AM– My first class went fine. We had a few groups present their final project. I went last class to get it over with. Now I head to my next class where five other students and I have to present a huge, final powerpoint. My group goes up first and I’m glad I get it over with. 

12:30 PM– Presenting made my anxiety go a little crazy, so I skip my next class to unwind. Usually I can power through it but I’m also speaking at an event later and that’s been freaking me out too.  Since it’s our second-to-last class we aren’t doing much and I’ve never skipped that class so I can take the hit. I grab lunch with my friends and they help me relax. 

2:15 PM– I head to a club meeting that lasts for about an hour, then I use next few hours to do work so I won’t have to do it later. Crossing things off of my to-do list is such a great feeling. 

5:45 PM– I head to the event early so I won’t have to worry about finding a seat. I have one friend who’s going so I save her a seat so I’m not alone. Between her running late and thinking about speaking, my anxiety creeps up again, but once she gets here I’m distracted enough to make it through the night.

8:30 PM– I stumbled through my words a little bit and I’m sure everyone noticed but it’s over and done with. I head back to my room and watch some TV since I don’t have any more work to do. 

10:00 PM– I take showers at night so I can sleep in as much as possible. I gather my stuff but I get distracted by the mirror on my bathroom door. I spend the next 10 minutes looking at my eyelashes to make sure they look okay. I finally take a shower and do my skincare routine. Sometime I wish I could make my problems disappear by dumping tea-trea oil on them. 

11:00 PM–  I take one last look through my phone then I spray my pillow with lavender essential oil, since I need all the help I can get when it comes to falling asleep at a decent hour. After lying in bed and thinking about what I have left to get done, I finally fall asleep. 

No two cases of mental illness are the exact same. This is roughly what my day is like and someone else, even with the same illnesses, can experience something totally different. If you’re struggling and need someone to talk to call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at  1-800-662-HELP for 24/7 help 365 days a year. 

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