Content Warning: suicidal ideation, depression
I have had the worst year of my life. For context, I am a senior in my undergraduate degree, and my mental health has been something I have struggled to prioritize because of the type of person I am. By that, I mean that I put my relationships on a pedestal, I struggle to say no, and I will do anything to distract myself from the fact that life is coming at me fast, and there is nothing I can do about it.
In the past six months alone, I have started doing really badly academically, had expensive car troubles, distanced myself from my family, lacked in my extracurriculars, established the worst sleeping schedule, built unhealthy eating habits, and more.
Everyone thought I was fine—even though I was not. I am the type of person to not let anyone know when I am struggling because I don’t want to be a burden. So when my friends would ask me to go out for drinks, I would say yes—even though I had a bunch of homework to do. When my friends wanted to surprise another friend for a birthday dinner, I would call off work, despite knowing that I needed the money to fix my car. When my parents would call me asking me if I needed help, I told them I didn’t. I hid the fact that I had picked up a serving job just to get by, just so I would not burden them—because how do you tell your parents that the life they brought you into is not worth living?
So yes, from an outsider perspective, all was well for me these past couple of months because of people watching me through social media living my “best life,” and me lying about how bad things had actually gotten. It reached the point where I was so good at this façade that when it started to show that my struggles were making a real impact on my life, and I could not keep up, I had no choice but to open up about how unwell I was.
When I finally decided to open up, the people in my life didn’t believe me. My friends and family thought that I was “just slacking off,” making excuses, and more, just because all looked well. I felt horrible, but I knew I could not be mad at them because what I was going through was something that I had chosen to go through alone. However, that does not go to say that it was okay for them to have doubts about whether I was going through anything—because how will I ever feel okay being vulnerable with my friends and family if that is the reaction that I received?
I am writing this letter to let you know that coping looks different for everyone. Whether you are going out partying every night to distract yourself or can’t even bring yourself to go to class because you physically can’t get out of bed, your struggles are very much valid, and you don’t have to justify yourself to anyone. I have been in both positions, and if no one sees you or understands, I do <3