You can't see my monster.

Just for once I wish I could step out of my body and see what everyone else sees when they look at me.

My illness is invisible. It's a monster in my brain that's as massive as Mount Everest. How could no one possibly see it but me? It's my own monster, a specialty. A brand of a thing so perfectly tailored to drive me and only me so wild that I am thrown into my own personal hell. Don't worry you can't catch it. I cant even catch it. I wish I could catch it and smash it. Smash it, until it's a speck of dust on the bottom of a shoe left behind in some long lost forgotten part of God knows where on the very edge of another universe.

I KNOW THAT I AM NOT MY ILLNESS at least that's what they tell you in therapy or better yet what you pay someone to tell you. But if my illness is in my brain and my brain is essentially what makes me a ME, than I am that illness. But you cant see it, so to you I am just me. Every action and decision I make is just simply who this human being in front of you is.

Some days I wish I could just walk around with a sign on my back that says I am depressed, I have anxiety attacks, and I have sensory issues. I want people to see that I am not mean, rude, lazy, and anti social. I want to scream to those who are so quick to see only whats in front of their eyes that I have a monster. Every second of every day I fight myself to be the me that you want to see.

Some days I lose.The real person I am gets locked up and hidden away by the monster who makes it's grand appearance on the outside masquerading as me. So at some moments I am my illness and all I want is for you to see it. I want you to see that I am fighting. I want you to see that I am fragile and that I need grace and patience. Please don't alienate me or judge me for what you think I am without taking into consideration that you can't see my monster.

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Are You Fit To Be In College?

More than likely and without question, you are qualified and deserving your achievements

College can give you a sense that you don’t deserve to be here. Somedays you find yourself questioning the merits of your intelligence rather than challenging your intelligence. There are people who are more skilled than you are, whose intelligent capabilities exceed your own, and these comparisons make you feel undeserving of your triumphs. Occasional comments I would receive including, "You look too young to be in college," only confirmed that to me. Despite having every reason to be in college, I found myself feeling juvenile, and often fell into a pattern evaluating myself lowly when it came to my performance. To my surprise, I wasn't the only person who felt the affects of "imposter syndrome".

The Imposter Syndrome refers to having a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. Individuals often find it difficult to recognize their accomplishments, degrading those achievements as ‘mere chance’ or that 'it was nothing'. This often is followed by a feeling that those around them will eventually "unmask" them, exposing them as the fraud they believe themselves to be.

This phenomenon isn’t uncommon, however. According to a study conducted by the International Journal of Behavioral Studies, approximately 70% of people will experience at least one episode relating to imposter fear. This ‘’intellectual self-doubt" is found to be more prominent in millennials, as they grow up and discover their expectations to be unrealistic.

This perfectionist attitude is detrimental to your own well-being. You start to feel like you don't belong, and it can take a toll on yourself. When it does, consider the following:

Acknowledge your Emotions

Acceptance is always the first step towards recovering. Take a second to recognize that what you are feeling is impostor fear. Take note of their occurrences.

Be Understanding Towards Yourself

Allow yourself for mistakes. Realize that it isn’t possible for you to answer every problem or know everything. While you can certainly strive for perfection, acknowledge the possibility that that wont be the outcome, and it’s okay that it isn’t.

Quit Making Comparisons

Don't undermine yourself because "you don't match up to someone else's successes." Your experiences are personal to you, just as another is personal to them. Remember that you are just as important, not some 'fraud'.

Appreciate Your Outcomes

Whether you fail miserably or you find success, appreciate the fact that you put your work, time and effort into a project, and that alone is all that counts.

Talk to Someone, Anyone!

There are plenty of resources inside and outside of your school you can speak to and there are plenty of others that are sharing the same thoughts that you are. Utilize those resources instead of keeping your thoughts to yourself.

Cover Image Credit: Emily Rizvic

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Looking Back On My Depression, I Feared So Much

I feared that I wouldn't be where I am sitting now.

Trigger warning: Detailed description of self-harm and depression that may be disturbing to some readers.

I remember the first time I cut myself.

It was Valentine’s Day. February 14th, 2014.

I don’t really recall the complete details of what happened. I remember my parents had gone out that night to dinner in The City. It was quiet in our house. And I just remember feeling the loneliest I had ever felt in my life.

I knew it was only time before I did it. I had seen it on the internet before – knew what to do.

I went downstairs, grabbed a handheld pencil sharpener and a screwdriver, padded back up the steps into my room and locked the door behind me. I sat on my bed, and slowly screwed out the metal center of the plastic sharpener, discarding everything but the blade in the trash.

I looked down at the shiny metal and then the reflection of myself in my mirror. My tear-stained cheeks and red eyes held sadness and emptiness, loneliness and despair that shocked me to my core.

I am alone.

There was nothing more certain I believed my freshman year of high school.

That year, I would wake up and cry because I had to go to school. I was afraid all the time. I lost all my friends and slept as much as I could, never wanting to wake up. I starved myself and then I binge-ate. My grades slipped because I couldn’t do work without wanting to kill myself, and I was jealous and angry at anyone who seemed to be happy.

Looking back, that year is very dim and hard to remember. I just remember that I always felt like there was a black cloud casting a shadow over me even when things should have been happy. I never felt like I was enough — I always could have been better.

I was ashamed of myself for no real reason. I felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere. Like I didn’t belong in this life. These were thoughts and feelings I’d had ever since I was little but didn’t realize it was depression and anxiety until then.

I thought that no one was lonely, that no one else had struggles, and that there was no one I could relate too. Such are the thoughts of any young child.

I believed I was alone.

But truly, I was afraid – afraid that I could never receive the appreciation of my parents, that I wouldn’t be able to be successful, that I would just continue to be lonely. And that's what I truly lived with – fear. Fear that masqueraded itself as detachment.

I feared everything. I feared my work, my grades, my weight, my appearance, my parents, their appreciation, the judgments of others, and most of all, my judgments of myself.

I thought it would never get better. That is the true staple of depression.

But, as everyone says, I was wrong. So, so wrong.

I feared not getting good grades.

I graduated with honors and a 4.02 cumulative GPA.

I feared I wouldn’t get into a good college.

I go to the University of Michigan.

I feared that I would always be embarrassed by my appearance.

I am now 5’7,’’ 170 pounds and proud.

I feared I would be alone.

I have incredible friends that love me and support me no matter what.

I feared that I wouldn't be where I am sitting now.

I survived.

That fear has never truly gone away. I don’t think it ever will. But I no longer pray for death. I do want to live. It’s a feeling that tends to surprise me sometimes. A feeling that I had lost for so long.

I am once again scared of crossing a street at night and being hit by a car.

I know I fear death because I wish to live.

Never let yourself lose that feeling.

There is so much to live for.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Call 1-800-273-8255

Available 24 hours every day

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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