Anna Schultz-Black And White Girl From Behind

My Mental Health Story

This is not something that I ever thought that I would be vulnerable enough to write. This story is still developing; I know that I am not at my peak mental health right now, but it’s also not that simple. This going to be a lifelong journey, and this is just a snippet. 

My mental health story revolves around the one desire that I feel constantly and strongly; to be happy.

Last semester was the most difficult time that I have ever experienced in my life. You can’t tell this from looking at me, from checking my grades, or from scrolling on my insta feed. I don’t think a single person knew what I was really dealing with. And that’s why I am telling you, today. You never know what someone is dealing with until they tell you. 

Last semester was the most difficult time that I have ever experienced in my life. I was in a job where I felt worthless, overwhelmed, and unsupported. However, I have a tendency to feel really guilty every time I make a small mistake or make a wrong choice, and this weighs heavily on my conscience and my thoughts echo, “I can’t believe you did that, what’s wrong with you, the world would be better off without you.” And I thought that this was a normal thing that everyone dealt with. 

Things escalated to the point where I was having thoughts of suicide regularly. I felt like I was suffocating every day and like I was so alone. I had a caring boyfriend and friends who loved me, but it just always seemed like everyone had their act together and I was just falling behind. I felt like it would be burdensome for me to share what I was going through. I tried to distract myself from this stress and sadness by joining as many clubs as I could, because I felt that if I joined more things, then I would be happy or liked or whatever it is I was trying to achieve. And sure, these things looked good on paper, but I was not able to perform my best at anything, and the stress of more commitments exacerbated things. I was beginning to spiral. 

At one point, one counselor wanted me to go to the hospital for intensive outpatient treatment. As a college student, I couldn’t just miss classes, work and extracurriculars for a whole week. And yet, I was thinking about suicide. I’m deeply disappointed that I always put school and work ahead of my basic mental well-being, but I know that I am not alone in that. I am writing this because if more people talk about their mental health story, we’ll realize that we’re not alone, that this is messed up, and that change needs to happen.

I started my road to self-care through wellness coaching, but that is a more preventative service and my coach and I both realized that I was in a bad place and needed a full-time counselor. It actually took longer than you might expect to find a counselor that meshed with me within my budget (which was a broke-college-student-budget). I was so unbelievably lucky to have a friend connect me to the Center for Community Counseling, a free on-campus resource. There, I met a counselor who made me feel understood and also made sure that I was safe. I don’t think that I could have made it through without her.

The path to finding the right mental health care is not always clear or easy. You know yourself and your mind better than anyone else, but it’s not always easy to express it. Everyone’s path is different, but it is so important to just not give up. Even if the first counselor you see isn’t a perfect match, if your medication has side effects, if you feel like it’s hopeless: things will get better, but you need to find the right provider. 

I came to a realization recently that left me sobbing for over an hour; surviving the fall semester was the most difficult thing that I have ever done, and nobody can tell by looking at me. Nobody knows that I was seeing a counselor twice a week and trying out tons of coping skills desperately trying to stay afloat. What really hurts is knowing that some people look at me and think, “Wow, she has it all together.”  Even people who seem like they have it all together could be just hanging on by a thread.