Let's get one thing straight: this is my story. Unfiltered and honest. And it needs to be heard.
Not only for myself, but all those people out there who are struggling, just like I did.
We all have heard about mental illness. Specifically, anxiety and depression. But sometimes, those going through it need to know that they're not alone in their battle.
I know I did.
I'm going to be honest. I love all the best friends I made and the things we did together during my freshman year. But there's so much that I went through, and sometimes, I wish I could forget most of it.
To those who need to know that they're not alone, here's my story.
All throughout high school, I was always a pretty happy person. I was at the top of my class, I played field hockey, was very active in the music department, and had a small group of true friends.
I was extremely focused on academics and knew that I wanted to go to a good college. I never had a boyfriend, my first kiss, or first date in high school. I had a close family who always had my back and I never had any large problems to worry about.
I had my eyes on my future and told myself that there's more to come.
However, the summer between my sophomore and junior year of high school, I had a small spell of anxiety and depression. I was seen by several doctors, all who said it was strictly a chemical reaction, as there was nothing that sparked those feelings.
It was a chemical imbalance in my brain, and I was placed on medication. By the time I went back to school in the fall, everything was under control.
I thought that would be the end of it. I thought that my medication would always be a sort of protection from those feelings.
The feelings of worthlessness and thinking that there's nothing to live for. That nothing is going to change.
But god, was I wrong.
After I graduated high school, I was so excited to start college. Freedom, new classes, a great roommate, and the possibility of having my first relationship fluttered about my mind.
My parents were just as excited as I was, because they knew they were sending me to a place I would be successful and happy. And for the first few months, I was happy.
I was doing well in my classes, made a great group of friends, and even had my first boyfriend.
But come November, everything changed more suddenly that anybody could have seen coming.
It was the day my parents were coming out to campus to meet my boyfriend at the time. After waiting about an hour or so after the time they were planning on arriving, I called my mom, who told me they were "stuck in traffic." When they arrived at my dorm, I could immediately tell that something was wrong.
My parents walked me out into the hallway, where they told me that my grandfather had passed away suddenly of a heart attack. He was the first person in my life I have lost, and I was extremely close to him. I was in shock.
How could that happen? He was perfectly healthy. He was my biggest supporter, and never failed to tell me how proud he was.
I went home for the funeral that week, and at the same time, my boyfriend went home for the semester for a medical leave from a concussion. When I returned later that week, I was without two of the people who meant the most to me.
I felt alone. I didn't know how to grieve and was trying to take my classes all at the same time. It was then that my depression set in.
For a few weeks, I managed. I didn't have much of a will to do anything, but I was getting by.
Come Thanksgiving, communication with my boyfriend began to fail, sparking my anxiety. I felt like everything I cherished most was slipping through my fingertips.
By the beginning of December, I could barely get myself to my classes, and found myself just wanting to go home. To go home, be with family, and help my grandmother. I had no clue where my boyfriend and I stood and couldn't figure out what was going on.
Did he still feel the same? Is it me? These questions raced, and I couldn't express how deep these thoughts ran.
My roommate and her boyfriend deserve an award for everything they did for me. They were there, sitting with me on the floor as I sobbed and begged for more help.
They called my parents, looking for ways to help me. My roommate brought me to the counseling center, where I struggled to find the help I needed. All my friends in my "squad" at school listened to my endless cries for help, looking for reassurance, and never once left my phone calls or texts unanswered.
It came to the point where I couldn't deal with these feelings at school anymore. I called my parents, crying and begging them to come and bring me home. They came out to school that night and brought me home for the semester.
However, I was blindsided yet again shortly after coming home. Despite my endless attempts at better communication, my boyfriend flipped and claimed we needed to take a break.
This, alone, destroyed me. When I needed somebody the most, I was left alone, again.
I was confused, hurt, insecure, and helplessly looking for answers, thinking, "Did I ruin everything?"
I was reaching out to other friends, trying to get the reassurance that everything would be okay. I had absolutely no ill intentions with my boyfriend. All I meant to do was love him.
But to him, that was too much for him to handle.
I kept tirelessly worrying whether we would get back together when we got back to school for the Spring semester. I spent all of Winter break as a complete disaster.
I couldn't work at my part-time job because I was struggling to even get out of bed in the morning. I drowned myself in Netflix, but it only made it worse, as I compared myself to everybody I saw on the screen.
I would call my friends, tears and sobs blurring the voices on the phone, asking them to come and keep me company and listen to my struggles, because I didn't know any other way to cope.
These feelings ruined Christmas, New Year's, and everything in between. Even as my house was crowded with people on New Year's Eve, I sat there, worrying, and feeling like I don't belong with my own friends anymore, thinking I was too far gone.
I was forced to face the questions of old friends and family, "How is school going?", and it would bring me to tears.
The anxiety as I walked back on campus was through the roof. I couldn't focus on any one thing. I just wanted things to all be like it was before. And to my surprise, my boyfriend took me back as if nothing ever happened...for a little bit.
It was again, as if something snapped, and next thing I know, it was as if I wasn't there again. In person, obviously, I was. But the communication lacked, still, despite my full-hearted attempts.
I found myself, even on the second day of class, in my dorm, sobbing and not being able to get myself off the floor and out the door. I remember sending desperate texts to my dad, saying "Dad, I need help. Like, medical help."
I made my way to the counseling center, with my dad who came after getting that text, and I was sent home for a few days to meet with my doctors.
A few days later, I was laying in the emergency room, wondering where everything went wrong. He took me back. That's what I wanted, right? Wrong.
He took me back, but it wasn't what I needed from a relationship. I needed someone attentive, and who wouldn't leave me in my darkest times.
I remember one particular instance, I sat on my bedroom floor, sobbing as my parents struggled to understand what I was feeling. I felt so misunderstood, and wanted somebody to talk to.
But this time, not my friends who I normally turned to. I messaged him, asking if he could just listen to what I have to say.
I knew he wouldn't know how to respond, but at that point, I just needed someone to listen. And he did. This alone, meant more to me than he will ever understand. I walked away from that conversation feeling the best I had in a long time.
I was faced with a hard decision: Do I go back to school? Tough it out? I didn't think I could.
I most likely would have gone back and ended up in the cycle all over again. It was a hard decision, but I took the semester off.
Everyone agreed that I needed time to get my head clear again and take time to take care of myself. I was so worried about things involving everyone else that I wasn't taking care of myself.
After the doctors adjusted my medications and I started counseling, I let him go. That's right, I made the phone call.
It lasted all but a minute and thirty seconds, but I did it.
After that, I had months of counseling, to talk about the things that clouded my view of the world. I looked around, saw everyone else happy and in relationships, and it was like a knife to my chest every time.
Why can't somebody like me for who I am? When will I find love? What if I don't? I don't want to be alone.
These thoughts consumed my brain. Every. Day.
I found myself needing to just get out of the house. Out of bed, and drive. I didn't care where, but I couldn't bear another full day of lying in bed, doing nothing.
For quite some time, I considered transferring schools to get a fresh start. I could have even decided to live at home and attend a local school. Nothing was left unconsidered.
Eventually, the medication and counseling began to take hold. I was able to apply for local part-time jobs, which I work two of now. Having something to get up and do every day was a tremendous help.
Don't get me wrong, there were days where it was hard, and I wanted to quit, but I didn't.
Of course, I kept in touch with my friends at school. I made a few trips out to visit, and I believe this is what ultimately led to my decision to go back to school.
I can recall sitting on one of my best friend's bed in her dorm, and just looking around at everyone in the room, and thinking "I'm ready."
Throughout the past ten months, I've learned a lot about myself and what I need, both in a relationship, a friendship, and what I need to do to make myself happy.
You truly do need to fall in order to learn how to get up again. Even now, I hear phrases or "advice" that still breaks my heart. But I learned that it's okay if these things hurt, as long as you know how to not let it send you backwards.
Long story short, YOUR'E NOT ALONE. I've learned, there's always someone you can talk to, and mental illness in college is so common, you would be surprised at how many people go through the same thing.
This is my story; don't be afraid to share yours.