My Bad Days Showed Me I Am Far From Okay

I Overcame What Seemed Like The Worst Three Weeks Of My Life, But It Showed Me I Am Far From Ok

This personal struggle of mine does not define who I am, but it makes me stronger because of it

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To be completely honest, the past three weeks of my life have seemed like I was trapped in my own personal hell.

Since I was about 6 years old, I have struggled with my mental health. I've done talk therapy on and off even before I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety when I was 13. I definitely have grown from who I was back in 2012 in so many ways, and not to seem egotistical, I am proud of the progress I've made.

I have been able to identify my triggers, learn how to combat them, and appropriate coping mechanisms to calm myself down. I gained the courage to be more vocal when I am facing an episode. I have learned how to take care of myself, which has helped me a lot coming to college. For a while, I definitely had my bad days, but for the most part, I felt like I was on top of the world.

However, lately, I just lost that joy I feel on most days. I have struggled to keep myself distracted from the personal demons in my mind who want to play tricks on me. I lacked the motivation and energy not only to do the work for my classes but even getting up and going to class. I began questioning if I should stay at Temple or transfer because of how unhappy I was. I wasn't trying to run away from my problems, but just wanted to be somewhere I know would make me happy and that somewhere in Pittsburgh.

A series of unfortunate events led me to feel like a black sheep among my friends. My anxiety tricked me into believing everyone dislikes me if they didn't already. I hated just walking around campus or being seen in public because I felt like everyone had their eyes on me or I had a large target on my back.

These past three weeks have been my lowest point since coming to college. Normally, if I have an episode, I have been able to bounce myself back after a day or so. I knew the moment I felt that familiar hopeless, unmotivated feeling I knew too well from my childhood that something was wrong. I realized I was just emotionally, physically, and mentally drained that I just felt numb.

For the first time since joining Odyssey a year ago, I didn't even write an article. I just wanted to sleep all the time and be back home with my parents.

That was when I realized I am not okay. There was a grace period where I felt like I was in control of my emotions and doing good, but that all changed in an instant. I suddenly felt like I was spiraling out of control and just felt so miserable, most days I just called my mom crying about it all. God bless my mother is all I gotta say to that. All my friends noticed I wasn't okay either but it took a while for me to stop avoiding them and admitting what was bothering me. My chest always felt tight and I found it hard to breathe. I couldn't concentrate on anything. I just wasn't myself.

Admitting what was bothering me, however, meant that I had to admit I wasn't okay mentally. Sure, I was upset, but the bigger issue is that my anxiety has manifested itself and I no longer knew how to handle it on my own. It meant I have to go back to my psychiatrist and come up with a game plan to be the best version of myself.

And I'm okay with that. For me, life is all about progressing and becoming better. It would have been better if I didn't have the numerous mental breakdowns that showed that darker side of me. I know though that I will get better. I am not ashamed of my mental illness and the constant battle I encounter.

This personal struggle of mine does not define who I am, but it makes me stronger because of it

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So, You Want To Be A Nurse?

You're going to find that nursing isn't really about the medicine or the assessments. Being a nurse is so much more than anything that you can learn in school. Textbooks can't teach you compassion and no amount of lecture time will teach you what it truly means to be a nurse.

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To the college freshman who just decided on nursing,

I know why you want to be a nurse.

Nurses are important. Nursing seems fun and exciting, and you don't think you'll ever be bored. The media glorifies navy blue scrubs and stethoscopes draped around your neck, and you can't go anywhere without hearing about the guaranteed job placement. You passed AP biology and can name every single bone in the human body. Blood, urine, feces, salvia -- you can handle all of it with a straight face. So, you think that's what being a nurse is all about, right? Wrong.

You can search but you won't find the true meaning of becoming a nurse until you are in the depths of nursing school and the only thing getting you through is knowing that in a few months, you'll be able to sign the letters "BSN" after your name...

You can know every nursing intervention, but you won't find the true meaning of nursing until you sit beside an elderly patient and know that nothing in this world can save her, and all there's left for you to do is hold her hand and keep her comfortable until she dies.

You'll hear that one of our biggest jobs is being an advocate for our patients, but you won't understand until one day, in the middle of your routine physical assessment, you find the hidden, multi-colored bruises on the 3-year-old that won't even look you in the eyes. Your heart will drop to your feet and you'll swear that you will not sleep until you know that he is safe.

You'll learn that we love people when they're vulnerable, but you won't learn that until you have to give a bed bath to the middle-aged man who just had a stroke and can't bathe himself. You'll try to hide how awkward you feel because you're young enough to be his child, but as you try to make him feel as comfortable as possible, you'll learn more about dignity at that moment than some people learn in an entire lifetime.

Every class will teach you about empathy, but you won't truly feel empathy until you have to care for your first prisoner in the hospital. The guards surrounding his room will scare the life out of you, and you'll spend your day knowing that he could've raped, murdered, or hurt people. But, you'll walk into that room, put your fears aside, and remind yourself that he is a human being still, and it's your job to care, regardless of what he did.

Each nurse you meet will beam with pride when they tell you that we've won "Most Trusted Profession" for seventeen years in a row, but you won't feel that trustworthy. In fact, you're going to feel like you know nothing sometimes. But when you have to hold the sobbing, single mother who just received a positive breast cancer diagnosis, you'll feel it. Amid her sobs of wondering what she will do with her kids and how she's ever going to pay for treatment, she will look at you like you have all of the answers that she needs, and you'll learn why we've won that award so many times.

You'll read on Facebook about the nurses who forget to eat and pee during their 12-hour shifts and swear that you won't forget about those things. But one day you'll leave the hospital after an entire shift of trying to get your dying patient to eat anything and you'll realize that you haven't had food since 6:30 A.M. and you, too, will be one of those nurses who put everything else above themselves.

Too often we think of nursing as the medicine and the procedures and the IV pumps. We think of the shots and the bedpans and the baths. We think all the lab values and the blood levels that we have to memorize. We think it's all about the organs and the diseases. We think of the hospitals and the weekends and the holidays that we have to miss.

But, you're going to find that nursing isn't really about the medicine or the assessments. Being a nurse is so much more than anything that you can learn in school. Textbooks can't teach you compassion, and no amount of lecture time will teach you what it truly means to be a nurse.

So, you think you want to be a nurse?

Go for it. Study. Cry. Learn everything. Stay up late. Miss out on things. Give it absolutely everything that you have.

Because I promise you that the decision to dedicate your life to saving others is worth every sleepless night, failed test, or bad day that you're going to encounter during these next four years. Just keep holding on.

Sincerely,

The nursing student with just one year left.

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11 Things I Definitely Will NOT Miss About Living In A Dorm

ResLife was lit, but it's time to say goodbye.

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As most college students do, I have spent the first two years living in a dorm. This has definitely come with its ups and downs, but for so many reasons, I am so excited to live in an apartment. Granted, I was lucky enough to get a spot in a suite-style dorm and missed the nightmare that is communal bathrooms, but nevertheless, there are some unique challenges that come with living in a residence hall.

1. Community laundry

There are so many things that I won't miss about the community laundry room. While I appreciate that I don't have to pay for it, I hate that other people have no concept of how to responsibly use a washer and dryer. I hate people who leave their stuff in them until the dawn of the age. I hate people who take your things out before they're done and throw them somewhere (or keep them). I hate people who throw entirely filthy things into the washer and dank it up for the rest of the world. I hate when you have a specific time you planned to do laundry and everyone and their brother turns up to do their laundry at the same time so you have to stalk washers and dryers with Black Friday shopping intensity. Community laundry is the actual worst and you can't disagree.

2. Other people's use of community spaces

I would like to issue a special thank you to those that are incredibly loud in places that people go to work on things. Lounges, computer labs, working areas... y'all can really be the worst. People really have no regard for anyone else when they're using common spaces and it shows.

3. Midnight fire drills

The other night I was up late studying and went to bed at 1:30 a.m. to be awoken 15 minutes later by a fire drill. Whoever was blazing it at 2 a.m., I just wanna talk...

4. Paper-thin walls

Forget any semblance of privacy. All of your roommates can hear all of everything you say and so can everyone passing your room in the hall. Better not talk badly about anyone because they'll probably hear you from a floor away. This also leads to some other, uh, situations that can be painstakingly heard through the walls. Rest in pieces, residents with rowdy neighbors.

5. Broken elevators

Inevitably, one of the building's elevators is always down or taking forever. In addition to the people that ride the elevator up to the second floor, this is a real pain in the butt.

6. Messy people going out

While I can't say I've never been part of a group that got messy after a night out, they always respect community spaces. I can't say the same for the person who puked in the drinking fountain. Or the person who puked in the elevator so that I had to walk up five flights of stairs. Y'all are real ones.

7. Checking in guests and checking in late

While I appreciate the concern for the building's safety, it is so inconvenient to have to check into the building after midnight. A lot of nights it's cold and I'm coming back from a long day of work and it's really frustrating to have to go into one of two doors that are nowhere near my room and interact with people. All I want is to go to bed at that point.

8. Fire safety rules

Again, I appreciate the concern for the building's safety. I really do. However, why in the world would they sell extension cords or outlet splitters or toasters if they were so hazardous to the public? With a grand total of maybe 4 outlets per room, it's quite bold of them to assume that everything can be plugged in at those strange various points around the room without a little help.

9. Parking

I have yet to find a dorm with parking that's reasonably close to their building without having to get to the building at a very specific moment on a very specific day to try and fight for a parking space. I can't wait to be able to use my car without having to make the trip to get it an entire event.

10. Faraway mail

Package pick up is a whole trip away. I can't wait to be able to receive mail in a reasonable place. I really thought I was going to get arrested one time because I received a jury duty questionnaire in the mail and had no idea when it actually got there because my mailbox is nowhere near where I walk.

11. So. Many. People. All. The. Time. 

It can be entirely frustrating to have to deal with so many people all the time. If I go to fill my water bottle, I might be subjected to a conversation and on some days, all I want is to be alone. There is nowhere you can go in a residence hall where you are Truly Alone.

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