Why you’re not alone

My hands shook as I climbed the dilapidated steps up above the cafeteria. I wanted to throw up, run away and never be seen again. My voice cracked as I told the secretary my name and my appointment time.

I walked in and sat on the edge of the couch, wanting nothing more than to be as far away from this room in Counseling Services as possible.

I am a Division I athlete. I am the senior news writer for a collegiate paper. I am an officer in a fraternity. I have spoken in front of 3,000 people. But nothing terrified me more than admitting I needed help.

When I was in elementary school, we went on a camping trip with my class. One of the activities we did was, while wearing a blindfold, hold onto a rope strung up around several trees. It was a maze, they told us, and we had to find our way out without taking off the blindfold. If we needed help, all we had to do was raise our hands.

It was an enclosed space, so there was no real way out of the maze. The point of the exercise was to have us admit we needed help. I never raised my hand. While all my classmates watched, blindfolded Kirk walked around the rope in circles for 20 minutes.

I refused help. Even when I needed it most. For a few months at the end of last year and the beginning of this year, I would get “down,” as I called it. It would just be this overwhelming feeling of dread and inadequacy would overtake me and I could not deal with it.

I remember a particularly vivid example was after our fraternity association night. I was walking up to my room as happy as could be, then all of the sudden I could not take another step. It was 9 p.m., and all I could do was sit on a bench outside of Dickens for 40 minutes.

I felt so alone. I could not reach out to anyone and had to deal with this on my own. I was ashamed to admit something was wrong and even more ashamed to ask someone what to do.

After a few particularly bad episodes of being “down,” someone very close to me finally said enough was enough. Either I get real help, or it was only going to get worse.

That’s what eventually led me to that office in Counseling Services.

It was awkward at first, talking about having a problem. There were tears, profanities and one or two frantic paces around the room as I ranted about my relationships, but I could feel something changing. Just by talking about my feelings and problems, I was getting stronger.

By going to Counseling Services, I was able to find the strength within myself to finally tell my friends how I was feeling. After five weeks of sessions, I was still absolutely terrified when I told them, and at first they were surprised when they learned how I had been feeling. But they have been nothing but supportive ever since. I feel free. I can talk about my emotions, not only to them, but to my family, too. I love them, and they love me.

In light of all the recents events at Belmont, I wanted to write and tell everyone that you are not alone, that you should never be too proud and or afraid to ask for help. I cannot begin to imagine going through such a lonely and dark place ever again.

This community is so unique because every single person you see walking to class cares about you, whether you know it or not. The hardest thing for me was not dealing with feeling “down” but admitting that I needed help. Once I opened that door to Counseling Services, my life changed. It saved me. Now I have developed an amazing support system of friends and family around me who I can finally feel comfortable asking for help.

I implore you, that if you ever feel down, alone, defeated or scared to call the office. Their counselors are there for you to make sure you know that you are never alone.

They did it for me. And they can help you.

Here is their number: 615-460-6856.

Senior news writer Kirk Bado is a sophomore politics and public law major.

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