In my first year of college, I started struggling. Part of it was a toxic environment and behaviors that I was engaging in, but the problem was mainly untreated mental illness. I came from a family that was not very educated on mental illness, and therefore believed in the stigmas that we as a society place around behavioral health. I didn't know the signs of illness, and I didn't know how to seek help when those signs started to show.
It wasn't until I was hospitalized that I realized everything I thought was wrong with me was really just part of the illness I had been desperately trying to push aside and ignore. People think depression and anxiety are just sadness and being nervous or shy, but there really is so much more to it. My constant sleeping, lack of motivation, helplessness, inability to hold a job, and phasing in and out are all side effects of my personal depression, something I never knew.
Keep going, I told myself. Get up and do everything you need to do, and when you're done, do everything you need to do tomorrow. I was plagued by a constant sinking feeling. I remember pulling at my hair in the shower and fading in and out of reality. I would feel sick and hopeless every time my friends would try to convince me to seek help. I always either wanted to be running away, or just to feel something.
We are so afraid to talk about mental health and acknowledge it. My teachers in high school told me not to put anything like that on my college essays. If you struggle, you are expected to deal with it and not tell anybody; but that just makes it worse! I didn't need to beat my depression into oblivion with a stick, I needed to acknowledge it and learn to manage it. I need medicine to keep my mood under control and be a functioning human being, and it took me forever to accept that.
You aren't playing the victim if you acknowledge you need help. You aren't giving in if you accept that you need medication. You are strong and smart for realizing what you need in order to feel your best. Nobody tells people with diabetes that they are weak if they take their medicine, why are you any different?
I'm writing this because I see so many people in the exact same place that I was a few months ago. Trying to shove my problem in a corner instead of deal with it. Prolonging seeking help only makes the problem worse. You don't have to fix yourself. It's okay to accept help when you need it.
Today, I'm doing great. I'm on a combination of medications that works for me, and I've gotten to a point where I no longer need to see my therapist. My depression isn't something that I need to destroy, it's a part of me that I need to manage. Accepting that has helped me beyond worlds.