3 Things I Learned From Mental Illness

3 Things I Learned From Mental Illness

"Your life may be perfectly fine, but that doesn't mean you are"
Paige
Paige
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Your life may be perfectly fine, but that doesn't mean you are

I think naturally there is a subconscious need for reason and sense when it comes to our emotions. We believe we need a valid reason to feel happy, sad, or even angry. Well, that isn’t the case for almost half of the people suffering with mental illness. Either spontaneously or genetically, some people can just be depressed. I know personally, this conflicted me the most. I would go visit my psychiatrist or therapist, and they would always ask me if something happened to me that made me get into this headspace I was in. I would always say no, and I simply felt that no one believed me. This is when I had to come to the realization that the answer doesn’t have to be yes. Not everyone surrounding you is going to understand this, but I promise there are people who do. Talk to them, your emotions are just as valid as anyone else’s, even if you cant explain where they bloomed. 


Getting medicated is not an easy process

In my sophomore year of high school, I was put on my first round of medication. Beforehand, I was only told I should feel better soon, and if not to call my doctor. I had no prior knowledge of how this would affect me mentally, and physically, and I feel like people avoid this part of recovery. There are various side effects which include vomiting, nauseau, uncontrollable shaking, insomnia, extreme fatigue, and suicidal thoughts with pretty much any mood – stabilizer/anti – depressant. The extent of these is what really surprised me. I would get sick every morning before school, then it would continue throughout my day. I tried to act like nothing was happening, that I could handle it, but honestly it is so tough. You will go through this huge rollercoaster, extreme highs where you finally feel a sense of relief and the mess are working, and extreme lows where you almost feel like you are back at square one. It is exhausting, and not at all a glorious or beautiful process. But despite this, it was the best decision I have ever made. It took more changes in medication than I knew was possible, but my Senior year I finally was stable, and I know that it was worth every single bad day. One more thing I learned that I believe many others can is the length of medical treatment. There are millions, if not billions, of chemicals that go into our mood and perception. Every single case is different. There is no way to know what medication can help your inbalance, and sadly, it takes a lot longer than most of us hope. So if you are going through this currently, or you are scared to start medication, just know it is going to be challenging, but you will come out strong in the end as long as you hold onto hope!

I am lonely, but I am not alone

Loneliness is one of the main symptoms of depression. Again, there isn’t always an explanation for this feeling. I used to walk the halls in school, or even go to the grocery store, and I could swear everyone would look past me. Sometimes I was even convinced I didn’t exist, and I . No one can tell you that you aren’t lonely, because its not always visible. You can be in a crowded room full of hundreds of people, and either mentally or physically, you just feel an immense amount of isolation. I had to face this alone, because it was causing me to totally detach myself from everyone I knew and loved. I didn’t believe I meant something, I didn’t feel seen, so this healing process was ultimately left up to me. I think the moment that saved me from the emptiness was when I went to an institution. I know, sounds intimidating, but that’s when you can physically see proof that you are not alone. I got to hear children’s stories, and sometimes nurses would come and ask me about my own. This sparked something in my mind, and I’m so glad it did. I realized that although I am lonely, I am not alone. If you are feeling this way, please talk to a friend, family member, or a loved one. There is always someone to prove that little voice in your head wrong!

Paige
Paige

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To All The Nurses In The Making

We tell ourselves that one day it'll all pay off, but will it actually?
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I bet you’re taking a break from studying right now just to read this, aren’t you? Either at the library with friends or in your dorm room. Wherever you may be, you never get the chance to put your books down, at least that’s how it feels to most of us. It sucks feeling like you’ve chosen the hardest major in the world, especially when you see other students barely spending any time studying or doing school work. The exclamation “You’re still here!” is an all too frequent expression from fellow students after recognizing that you’ve spent 10-plus hours in the library. At first it didn’t seem so bad and you told yourself, “This isn’t so difficult, I can handle it,” but fast-forward a few months and you’re questioning if this is really what you want to do with your life.

You can’t keep track of the amount of mental breakdowns you’ve had, how much coffee you’ve consumed, or how many times you’ve called your mom to tell her that you’re dropping out. Nursing is no joke. Half the time it makes you want to go back and change your major, and the other half reminds you why you want to do this, and that is what gets you through it. The thing about being a nursing major is that despite all the difficult exams, labs and overwhelming hours of studying you do, you know that someday you might be the reason someone lives, and you can’t give up on that purpose. We all have our own reasons why we chose nursing -- everyone in your family is a nurse, it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, you’re good at it, or like me, you want to give back to what was given to you. Regardless of what your reasoning is, we all take the same classes, deal with the same professors, and we all have our moments.

I’ve found that groups of students in the same nursing program are like a big family who are unconditionally supportive of each other and offer advice when it’s needed the most. We think that every other college student around us has it so easy, but we know that is not necessarily true. Every major can prove difficult; we’re just a little harder on ourselves. Whenever you feel overwhelmed with your school work and you want to give up, give yourself a minute to imagine where you’ll be in five years -- somewhere in a hospital, taking vitals, and explaining to a patient that everything will be OK. Everything will be worth what we are going through to get to that exact moment.

Remember that the stress and worry about not getting at least a B+ on your anatomy exam is just a small blip of time in our journey; the hours and dedication suck, and it’s those moments that weed us out. Even our advisors tell us that it’s not easy, and they remind us to come up with a back-up plan. Well, I say that if you truly want to be a nurse one day, you must put in your dedication and hard work, study your ass off, stay organized, and you WILL become the nurse you’ve always wanted to be. Don’t let someone discourage you when they relent about how hard nursing is. Take it as motivation to show them that yeah, it is hard, but you know what, I made it through.

With everything you do, give 110 percent and never give up on yourself. If nursing is something that you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life, stick with it and remember the lives you will be impacting someday.

SEE ALSO: Why Nursing School Is Different Than Any Other Major

Cover Image Credit: Kaylee O'Neal

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How I Used This Summer To Teach Myself Self-Love

Summers are usually for vacations in Paris, concert festivals with friends, and once in the lifetime opportunities, but this year, I decided to love myself.

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This summer was my first summer home from my first year of college which was pretty rough. My first semester of college included me living under the shadow of an emotionally-abusive boyfriend and losing my dad and the second semester of college was me trying to get out of that shadow and being able to cope with the passing of my dad. I did not think I would even make it to the summer in one piece because of how much heartbreak and betrayal I went through. I thought college was supposed to be where you found yourself and live the best years of your life.

I was completely wrong about that, and I knew that was why this summer, I had to use it to find myself once and for all.

It was hard because I did not know what I wanted. All through my first year of college, I had friends and family in my ear telling me what I should and should not do. They controlled my actions towards things and even though I initially thought that that was the best for me, deep down I knew that that was not the person I wanted to be.

The first thing I did this summer was get a job. I had jobs back in school, but I wanted to try something new and more serious. I got a job and learned leadership skills and how to be on my own. I refused to let myself call out for friends or for 'being sick' and become much more independent by landing a serious employment opportunity. I was not about to throw it out for other people because I knew to have something to do was what was best for me.

I then kept away from a lot of my first-year college friends. I would get calls every other day asking if I wanted to go out on late nights, but I declined them all. The first reason for declining them was because of the fact that I did have work in the morning and going out at midnight was not good when you have work at eight. The second reason was that I did not want to be part of that crowd. People used this summer to drink, do drugs, and party, and I knew that hanging out at midnight meant doing just that when there is nothing else to do in my town, but drugs and alcohol. I did not want any distractions from what mattered and I wanted my mind to be free of anything that can alter it so I stayed away. I did not want to be peer pressured and come back under my friends' control so I kept declining until the invites were no more.

Throughout the summer, I ended up making new friends who would let me sit and talk to them about anything and everything and rant to them when I needed to. I am a person who likes to vent and because I had no one to listen to me before, it was all bubbling up inside me. These new friends listened until the end and gave me the best advice. They never told me to do something, they advised me and that was a complete change. I was starting to be able to make decisions for myself.

The last thing I did this summer was completely getting rid of anything that was not me. This includes clothes, values I adopted from other people, and goals. Some things I did not want to do but other people wanted me to do. I had become a puppet in people's games and all I wanted to do was fit in. However, I realized that you did not have to fit into people's mold and there are other people out there that value the same things you do without you having to change what you believe in and what you strive for. I started researching and finding out about organizations that fit my aspirations and I was blessed to be chosen to be a part of all of them.

This summer began to be filled with negativity but now it is all positive as I start my second year in college. I had to cut off everything bad and find my purpose without the control of others and now I am truly happy with myself and all the blessing I have this upcoming year.

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