How Ignoring My Mental Health Made It Worse
I’ve always been aware of my mental health because I’ve dealt with issues my whole life. Anxiety was a constant. Depression got progressively worse in high school, where I got hit in the face with what adolescence really is. Being a literal hormonal mess while trying to find myself—and my place myself in this world—didn’t make things easier.
I tried seeking professional help, but I always had bad luck with therapists, so I ended up not believing in them. I saw my mental health as a burden I had to bear alone. I felt weak; I felt lost; and frankly, I felt tired. Around that time, things started to get worse. There were ugly thoughts and uglier actions, but I survived. I clung to the hope that when I reached 18, my problems would suddenly and magically disappear. It was almost as if turning 18 was this spectacular event when your life starts anew.
I turned 18 and nothing changed.
When college started, I was still reluctant to find help. Part of me kept thinking of how weak I was being. Many friends advised me to get professional help when things became too much and I just needed to vent. But I never did, and I always had an excuse ready. “I don’t have money.” “I’m OK now.” “I don’t want my parents to know; they would be so worried and disappointed.” I powered through, enduring college, feeling myself become worse and worse. But still, stubbornly, not asking for help.
Eventually it all came crashing down. Things reached a point when I couldn’t go to classes. I started having panic attacks every single day, too scared to even leave my house. I got paranoid, stopped sleeping, and landed me in the hospital. They gave me some pills, but they made me feel worse.
For almost half a year I didn’t feel like myself anymore. I didn’t leave the house, I dropped out of college, and I stopped talking to almost everyone I knew. Friends invited me to go out, and I would never go. Eventually, they stopped asking. It was when I reached rock bottom that I understood how poorly I had treated myself. My own stubbornness and ignorance about my mental health made me even worse. It made me lose four years of my life.
I still feel remorse over everything I lost. The opportunities I couldn’t take, the experiences I missed, how I got caught in this vicious cycle. I ended up finally seeking professional help, and I’m still trying to heal. This experience has taught me who I could count on, who I could trust, and, above all, how strong I can be. I realized I am much more powerful than I give myself credit for.
So take care of yourself. Your mental health is too important to not pay attention to. There’s still too much of a stigma in this society around mental health, but never let that deter you from getting help. Things eventually get better.
By Sofia Marques, 22