Mental illness, for lack of a better word, is a bitch. With everything students have to deal with, you'd think our brains would throw us a bone, but no.
Maybe as a child, we dealt with social anxiety and nervousness like a lot of kids did, but then it went away. My mom used to tell me that when I would see strangers or get into an uncomfortable situation, I'd bend down and act like I was tying my shoes to avoid eye contact. The funny thing? I wore Velcro shoes.
I also used to be terrified of loud noises and roller-coasters (every kid, has a fear, right?). One time, the fear of fireworks scared me so bad that I had my first panic attack. I was nine-years-old. No one thought anything of it then.
Flash-forward ten years, the fall of 2017, I'm under a lot of stress at school, stressed at my two jobs that I work 30 hours a week at, and family issues never help. My anxiety came back full force from something so minute. It changed the way I live my young adult years. It will hit me at random moments; I won't be able to breathe, my mind starts racing, my fight or flight responses kick in and my entire body is stone cold. It can happen at work, during class, or even while I'm just laying down watching T.V.
Some people read the word anxiety and roll their eyes. You're just overworked, calm down. Take a deep breath and go on about your day. What they don't understand is that at times, it can be so crippling you don't want to get out of bed because you're afraid if you do, you'll die.
People that aren't plagued by mental illness don't understand the need for a mental health day or the actual anxiety that some experience just from daily tasks. Generally, older adults think we're weak, gentle snowflakes that cry wolf every five minutes. What they don't know is that mental illness is a real issue on college campuses and among young adults from ages 18-24.
Things aren't as easy as they used to be for the previous generations. Many students are putting themselves through college alone, working many part-time jobs or at least a full-time job at the same time.
Our school work piles up as we work, and work, and work, and then we come home late at night to study, and repeat it all the next day. Without the time to ourselves to decompress or proper time to sleep, we're driven to mental illness by the monotonous day to day "grind" that everyone boasts about. Students don't have the same time to relax as others, it's a constant go, go, go.
The worst part about it is the stigma, the disbelief that you're actually ill and just overthinking everything. Employers, family members, and unaffected friends push you to keep going, to swallow your feelings until you can't quite take it anymore and explore in one way or another.
It's not all dark and scary, however. There are other friends that are there for you to listen, to suffer with, and to help you understand your feelings and get help. Sometimes with a little medicine or a chat with a professional can help lessen the anxiety, the depression, or any other mental illness that affect your personality.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255