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How Ignoring My Mental Health Made It Worse

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

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