"As I share my story with you, I candidly acknowledge that it could never encompass all mental health narratives worldwide - let alone in CBS. I can only speak of my own experiences on behalf of myself. Everyone’s mental health journey is their own - most paths different than mine. Likewise, my path of healing may not be the best choice for others. But I hope that my story - the first to be on Humans of CBS - will start a long overdue mental health discussion in a new safe space.
My depression and social anxiety started in middle school for reasons I will not mention. When you’re young, you’re not educated about mental health or taught proper coping strategies so I had no clue what I was experiencing. Society taught me that my social anxiety was shyness and my depression was incoming mood swings or stereotypical teenage angst. Over the next 8 years, my depression and anxiety worsened thanks to specific individuals in my life, both family members and peers. So instead of focusing on my deteriorating mental health, I laser-focused on academics in school and succumbed to the familial pressure of being a piece of a “normal” happy family unit. In my mind, everything would be fine as soon as I got to college.
However, I didn’t expect the magnitude of my isolation from home and the competitive CBS culture. In CBS we glorify the minutiae of unhealthy habits and thoughts. We are all part of a competitive populace of brainiacs aspiring to succeed in medical school, research, academia, or a fusion of something else entirely. We work to deserve our success. However, somewhere along the way we irrevocably linked success to lost health and sleep, negative comparison with peers, GPA status, and credit cramming. Though this was not the main source of my declining mental health, it certainly expedited it. I first reached out to mental health resources after my brother urged me to get help after a panic attack on Thanksgiving. Therapy was one of the most difficult, but rewarding emotional experiences of my life. I confronted my family and my past, but I am a much happier person because of it. I am by no means fixed (I absolutely hate that word), but it provided me with a direction for healing. Now I heal by talking to those who have experienced mental health issues, volunteering in advocacy organizations, and creating necessary self-care time when I’m burnt out. I also recommend making a “bad day box” with scents, food, letters from those you love etc. Green tea is a favorite.
But what is your story? You know yourself better than I ever could. If you feel like you might need resources, seek them out now. Understand that your emotions and thoughts are valid. Mental health is a continuum - a wide limitless grayscale. You don’t have to be depressed, suicidal, or self-harming to qualify for help. You deserve help and resources no matter where you are on that grayscale. The size of the continuum attests to one undeniable truth: you are not alone. Know that we are here for each other. Please take the time to reach out to campus resources or take initiative in self-care."
Humans of CBS
Humans of CBS is a platform for those wishing to share their mental health story, thoughts, or experiences with others in CBS. We hope that this series will give visibility to these issues, let students know they are not alone, and provide mental health resources for students on campus. Posts can be submitted either anonymously or named at z.umn.edu/HumansofCBS2018