My Experience with Mental Illness


According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) 43.8 million adults experience mental illness in a given year. Sadly, nearly 60 percent of adults with mental illness didn’t receive mental health services in the previous year.


As someone who struggles with anxiety and depression, mental illness has been a part of my life for quite some time now. And yet, I feel weird saying that “I struggle with it.” Mental illness affects me in lots of ways. I have my good days and my bad days. I have really high moments and really low moments. When I look back at my low moments I learn from them and try to adjust so that I can try to make the next low moment I have not as bad and more controlled.


I guess I shouldn’t say that I “struggle” with mental illness. Yes, sometimes I want to fall apart from the lows but one small victory for me can mean so much. As I’m writing this I’m reminded of the phrase that my mom always tells me when I am feeling down. “Take everything one step at a time, moment by moment, hour by hour, day by day."


When I Googled the word "struggle" the definition that came up is to make “forceful or violent efforts to get free of restraint or constriction.” As easy as it would be to say that I want to break free of my mental illnesses I know that this is neither realistic or practical. They don’t define me, but they have shaped me. My depressive episodes have allowed me to appreciate my family and my friends so much more and to enjoy the moments of pure ecstasy and happiness. My anxiety has shown me that even getting through one small task that I was afraid of doing can be a major accomplishment. So no, I don’t struggle with mental illness, I live and thrive with it.


Being in college and having mental illnesses can be difficult at times. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one on campus who is struggling. Going to my campus’s Center for Mental Health Services was a big step for me. Even just being in the waiting room and seeing other people utilizing the services there makes me feel less alone.


Something that I still struggle with is talking to people my age face-to-face about what I go through. It makes me feel vulnerable, something I’m trying to work on. The friends that I am able to talk to I am forever thankful for. They allow me to show them my barest self with no shame.


To all the other people who are struggling with mental illness, especially those in college, let me tell you that I love you even on your worst days.


If you or someone you care about thinks that you may be struggling from mental illness or just haven’t been feeling yourself lately, please don’t be scared to reach out. Talking to my mom about how I was feeling was the first step forward into helping myself feel better. If you are in college make use of your colleges mental health services.


Lastly, I want to thank you for reading this. You have allowed me to reveal a rarely seen part of myself to you whether you are a stranger, acquaintance or friend. To you I am also forever thankful.


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