It may just be the Aquarius in me, but in the thick of a semester, I'm rather detached from any lucidity of my emotions.
Whether it be the stigma surrounding the topic or simply prioritizing other things above it, checking in with ourselves often takes a backseat to quite literally anything else.
As you'd expect, even just temporarily ignoring a potentially bigger issue only gives it the time and space to fester. And after a certain amount of time, I've found it very difficult to even gauge what I was feeling when I finally allowed myself to.
Within me, I had known for a while that something was off. But I didn't want to admit it to myself, and God forbid anyone else.
I certainly didn't view anyone else as weaker because of a mental illness; in fact, seeing them push through their toughest of days and revel in their best ones was admirable, to say the least. To own the difficulties they endured instead of being surprised when they surfaced at the most inopportune times.
That honesty as a strength.
This year has been incredibly progressive in bringing awareness to mental health, but the stigma is still alive and well within us. Perhaps those without mental illness have trouble understanding what it's like to exist as those who have them, but the root of the issue that still lingers, is in trying to validate our own struggles.
Sometimes this can be as serious as denying the resources that can allow us to live contented lives. And to protect what—our fear of vulnerability? Why do we deprive ourselves of the help that we know has worked for so many others? I choose to believe that first and foremost, it's due to the misconception that seeking help makes us less than who we would be if we just powered through these obstacles.
But the truth of the matter is, is that this route is typically much more emotionally taxing. I know for a fact that I would not be where I am today without loved ones to lean on, the occasional "mental health day," and my daily 10 milligrams of Prozac.
Self-awareness is the first step towards that place—and an awfully ugly step at that. I wish I could say that it's "all downhill from there," but I don't think it'll ever be linear since it never was, to begin with.
It took a little longer than I would've liked to get here, but you know, it's sunnier here than where I was.