#EndTheStigma: one 20something shares her struggle with mental health

www.istock.com/demaerre

“Medicated, caffeinated, yet still I’m irritated.”

Now, if I was not medicated I would be much more than irritated, I would probably be unemployed and/or admitted to a psych ward.

Everyone medicates in their own way. My medications include cycling (only Soul Cycle though), shopping and taking my prescribed psychotropic drugs. They also include indulging in coffee, wine, and chocolate on a bi-daily basis.

Everyone has their own medicine, but education on medication and mental health are so extremely important, so I hope my story helps you to check in on your own mental health and to #endthestigma.

I started the real world on a much different foot than most. I was a full-time student, on two university boards and working full-time from my college apartment, which was in an old church. I am also a child of divorce, have a brother with special needs and eight other younger siblings that do not help keep me sane.

After months of 15-hour days of class, homework and work-work, I spent more time pacing my stairs than I probably ever have at the gym. I also spent an absurd amount of time uncontrollably crying and having panic attacks. I woke up crying in my sleep more often than I woke up having to pee. This led to consistent anxiety-induced days and losing my hair among many other terrible experiences I have tried to block from my memory. Finally, after a few months, I agreed to meet with my family’s psychiatrist. We had a very short phone call and he quickly prescribed me medication for anxiety and depression.

I was struggling. I also thought I knew better than everyone. Including my mom, my friends, my teachers and my co-workers. I didn’t believe anyone that my struggles and my stressors were red flags for my own mental health. I was very uneducated, while I tried to preach how important education was. What I think I’ve learned through this experience is that education (and occasionally medication) are a must during the emerging adulthood period. Emerging adulthood is one of the only term from college that I think actually applies to myself.

Emerging adulthood is the time in between when you are expected to be a full adult and when you actually are mature enough to live and survive on your own. Emerging adults need AS MUCH education as we get if us Millennials ever want to exceed the expectations all other generations have so kindly given us. We need to know more. I know we all could use some more education and sympathy surrounding mental health.

As funny as all of the memes can be; calling people crazy, unstable, psychos or schizos is not nice and will not be tolerated as a successful and professional adult. I am a firm believer in spreading the word to end the word, and I think this should apply to all mental health concerns. Also I hope us millennials can learn how common and helpful education, medication and other interventions can be in regards to all of our mental health.

Educate yourself on the signs of suffering from a mental illness, educate yourself on your resources and listen to advice from everyone. Listening does not always mean you need to actually take everyone’s advice, but giving yourself the chance to ponder and decide if a personal change would benefit you should never be taken for granted.

I struggled a lot. Mostly, because I was very resistant to admitting I was wrong. I did not want to admit that I bit off more than I could chew and I was physically and psychologically suffering. What I thought was the norm to starting out in the real world and learning to cope with stress turned into more diagnoses than anyone should have in a lifetime.

These diagnoses came at a very high price. I had to invest in hair extensions (3 times!) because my hair was literally falling out. I also eventually invested in a very expensive therapist (not covered by insurance, which is an entirely larger issue our country needs to address) along with many other non-monetary expenses.

The biggest takeaway here is that life changes, like starting your first job, are really hard.

These changes often give people, a “mental health cold” and if you don’t know how to take care of yourself, and take advantage of our healthcare system, you may be doing yourself more harm than good.

This is why I beg you to check in on your mental health. Help us to spread the word to end the word, #endthestigma and help yourself.

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