This week is Suicide Prevention and Awareness Week. The Vision has made this a special topic and will spend the week highlighting resources and people on campus who are here to help. If you or someone you know is struggling, call the Suicide Lifeline at 988 or reach out to Belmont’s Office of Counseling Services.
I’ve forgotten what my life was like before therapy and anti-depressants.
Every day, I wonder if I feel happy because I really am, or because the meds make me that way.
Maybe it’s a bit of both.
I’ve been taking medication for six years, and I’ve been in therapy even longer.
I started talking to a therapist to remedy the occasional panic attack, but when I got to college, I realized the anxiety was just a precursor to depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
I’m 23 now, living a completely different life than I did when I was diagnosed, but I still fear the darkness and the lack of control.
My therapist knows all of this.
The meds help 99% of the time, but that 1% can creep up on you when you least expect it.
And I, being the chaotic overachiever that I am, handle those moments with the grace of a bull in a china shop.
Take last May, for example.
I had recently moved. That, combined with the end of a stressful semester, led me to have a full-blown breakdown in my dorm room.
Instead of getting some fresh air and some sleep, like I’d learned to do in every therapy session for the previous seven years, I ran away.
My getaway car? A bright-red 2016 Chevrolet named Thor.
I drove out to Charleston, South Carolina, to see some family, taking the time to “find myself on the road.”
That’s what I told my mom, at least. In reality, I needed an excuse to get out of Nashville as fast as possible.
I spent a week sleeping, exploring and forgetting. I pretended to be someone who didn’t just run away from yet another depressive episode.
But I should have known it wouldn’t be that easy. I’ve never been good at acting, after all.
While I was driving out of Charleston, I had another breakdown.
I didn’t want to leave. I was still scared of the depression and loneliness awaiting me in Music City — I convinced myself I wasn’t strong enough to beat them.
Running away didn’t help.
I didn’t want to bother anyone by calling and crying, so I checked myself into the emergency room and rehashed my entire life story to two very kind and patient doctors.
And they did exactly what’s necessary for people in crisis.
They heard me recount my years of anxiety and depression. By the end of it, they really only had one thing to tell me: It’s OK that you’re not OK.
It was the first time I’d heard that since I hit the road a week prior. When they said it, I knew they meant it.
So I’m going to say it for you now, and I’ll say it loud for the people in the back.
It’s OK to not be OK.
Just because you break does not mean you are broken.
The world can be a ferociously overwhelming place for us students — especially in 2022 — and seeking help makes things better.
None of us were meant to go through this life alone.
Find that person – whoever it is – a best friend, a therapist, a pastor.
So, if you didn’t hear it before, I’ll say it again, and I’ll keep saying it.
You are not alone.
PHOTO: Belmont Vision Multimedia. Lillie Burke/Belmont Vision
This editorial was written by Sarah Maninger