One out of four adults over the age of 18 live with a diagnosable mental health disorder.
In college students, this number is even higher. A quarter of college women will experience an anxiety disorder, and 1 in 12 college students make a plan for suicide. I am that statistic. I am most mental illness statistics, in fact.
My mental illness developed around the time I turned 14, I am the one in four with anxiety, and I am the one in twelve who have made a suicide plan.
I am medicated, working through therapy and my own feelings and choosing to put myself first. But the most important thing I learned about my struggle wasn't about knowing when to scream for help at the top of your lungs, or how to talk about your struggles without triggering others. It was learning to accept my sadness.
My depression manifests itself in a soul-crushing elephant sitting on my chest, making it impossible for me to get out of bed. I can't do anything to change my brain chemistry, but what I can change is how I respond to my bad days. If I spend time beating myself up for not making it to my attendance-optional recitation, then the cycle will only continue rather than being interrupted.
You have to understand your illness, your mind, and your life -- no matter what medication you're on or how great your therapist is or how good things are going in your life, you're going to have bad days.
You're going to have those days where you wonder if you made any progress at all with all the hard work you've been putting in. Know that you are making progress, and recovery isn't true recovery without setbacks. The most important thing you can do for yourself is to forgive yourself.
Allow yourself to feel that sadness, allow yourself to take the time to deal with those feelings and that heaviness in your bones without worrying about the other things you have going on. A hard lesson to learn is loving yourself enough to put yourself first, and moreover, having enough respect for yourself to allow yourself to feel that deeply.
It's okay if, some days, the only thing you did was wake up. It's okay that some days you feel hopeless and like nothing is going right, and it's okay that sometimes you have to take a mental health day. It's okay to accept your sadness and use it on your journey to balance.
So put on your sad playlist, curl up in your favorite blanket, and have a good cry if that's what you need. Or surround yourself with friends who make you laugh. Or do whatever it is you have to do to work through what you're feeling so you can return to the long, painful but ultimately important road to recovery.