For most of my life I have struggled with anxiety and depression. I was always embarrassed to talk about it, thinking that it would change the way that my friends or other people viewed me. I also had a terrible habit of downplaying my emotions to try to act as if my issues were not there. It was pretty easy to distract myself and keep busy throughout middle school and high school as I had an active group of friends who were always going out and doing things, and I was involved in a lot of extracurricular activities and other social activities. When I would find myself with too much downtime, I would just find anything to occupy my time.

As I got to college and my routine was completely shredded, I began to struggle a lot more. I struggled to get involved and find a place that I belonged, and had a hard time making new friends, which I had never experienced before. While I was doing fine in all of my classes academically, and seldom missed a due date, I still was convincing myself that I was a failure and would not succeed in my goals. I found myself hiding in my bedroom, shutting out my closest friends, and constantly wondering if I really wanted to be here. Once I finally began to talk to my friends and my family about how I was feeling, they helped me to find a counseling service in town I could start to talk to. With this being my first time actually reaching out for help, I was a little reluctant at first, but once I opened up and really began to utilize the sessions, I began to feel so much better. I finally realized some of the issues I struggled with were perfectly normal for someone with anxiety and/or depression and began to find ways with my counselor that I could help myself manage the symptoms.

Through this experience, my biggest takeaway is the importance of mental health awareness and how harmful the stigma against mental health can be. I wish I would have begun getting help sooner, and I hope that anyone who may read this will understand how important it is to speak up about what you are struggling with and find the help you may need. Everyone will deal with mental health in their own way, so look for what works for you!