Do you ever find yourself so stressed and frustrated that even the slightest inconvenience seems like it is going to be your breaking point? Especially, as a college student, in a pandemic, when your social and academic needs are being ignored, this situation is becoming more common. Mental health often goes untalked about, making it seem like it is not detrimental as it is. By invalidating the severity of mental health-related cries for help, situations only become worse as the criticisms on the seriousness of the circumstances at hand become more internalized and cause students to doubt themselves and feel as if what they are going through isn’t real and they are just overreacting. A reaction like this just furthers the breakdown. It adds fuel to an ever-growing fire that seemingly can never be extinguished.
Recently, I found myself having one of those breakdowns. As a college student right now, I succumb to academic, social, and mental stress that consumes almost every aspect of my life. I seemed to finally have some idea of stability in my life until things just began going wrong. It was almost like a domino effect – one thing falling apart after another and I knew that one wrong move could send me into a full-blown breakdown, in the middle of my midterms. I was taking my typical break-from-reality shower when it all came crashing down, literally. The shower curtain fell. And that was it. The point of no return. I could feel myself veering towards a panic attack and I felt myself losing all composure. The things in my life that were going wrong were uncontrollable and I felt useless and frustrated. That was when I decided to confide in my hometown friends. I sent them panicked Snapchats detailing how hopeless and out of control I felt. Overwhelmed with stress and disappointment, I needed help.
My friends instantly gave me the support I didn’t realize I was lacking. You see, while mental health can feel like purely a solo battle, having a strong support system goes a long way. My friends helped me to snap back into reality and focus on the things I can control. They gave me an abundance of suggestions of how I could reclaim my control. They reminded me that focusing on the things I can’t fix won’t get me anywhere. And that instead, I should rather try to focus on the things I can manage, like the assignments I had due that week. My friend suggested taking 20 minutes to think about these uncontrollable stressors and then put them on the back burner until something can be done. One friend suggested using that time to cry it out, and another suggested walking it out. I took their suggestions to heart and decided to proceed in a way I figured would work best for me and go on a walk with my thoughts and then put them away for the time being when I got back home. While this didn’t solve any of my problems directly, it helped me regain control of my mental health and remind me that some things are out of my control which is okay.
Although I got good advice, it took me a while to get there, and I still often struggle to open up. Talking out about what you’re going through is difficult for a multitude of reasons: it can feel selfish or annoying, it is hard to know who to reach out to, it can feel like what you are going through is not even real, and more. A large part of this comes from the stigmas that are spread throughout society because no one talks about the severity of mental health. A real difference can’t be made until mental health is treated like any other physical injury or disability. There is much internalized thought that because no one can physically see something wrong, then nothing is wrong. But that is not at all true.