By Talia Floyd News Writer
I am officially not great student this semester. If I get a C in most of my classes I will throw myself a party. If I make it through finals week at all it will be a miracle. It’s that kind of semester. To those of you who are not struggling I recommend you read on, this will be an eye opener. To my fellow struggling students here’s a little catharsis.
I don’t know how the semester slipped away from me. Somewhere in between that nap that I knew I shouldn’t have taken and bingeing Marvels Luke Cage it occurred to me that things were not going well. When I finally worked up the courage to peek at my midterm grades it was confirmed. I’d reached a milestone. I’d never been failing two classes at once before (and things are not looking great for the other two).
Of course it wasn’t just the times spent idle when I should have been getting familiar with my spanish textbook. It was also a semester in which two students who are part of our community passed away. It’s a semester in which I was confronted with depression and anxiety among my friends that overwhelmed me, that left me feeling scared for them and their future.
This was the semester that reminded me that maybe I need to take better care of my own mental health. I am learning that mental health care is not something that can wait in the same way that you really shouldn’t wait to check out that cough that isn’t going away or the fever that you’ve had for two weeks.
Mental health is easy to dismiss. We so rarely acknowledge mental health care as equally important to any other form of health or sickness. When we do notice a problem we often lack the tools to confront it or to be compassionate with ourselves.
Some of my woes are the simple pains of a procrastinator. I’d rather do basically anything before homework. My classroom engagement is either frantic as I try to recover what I can of a doomed grade in classroom participation or so lackluster it must seem as if I can sleep with my eyes open to some of my professors. I spent way too much time listening to music and watching emotional you-tube videos about human nature. These are things that can be solved with some stricter adherence to a schedule and a touch more caffeine.
Then there are the things that are symptoms of problems that are a little less mundane. I don’t sleep at least two nights out of the week. Usually Sunday when I panic because I did nothing except eat and sleep all weekend and Wednesday when it occurs to me that in order to graduate I will have to complete some homework.
I sit down intending to get work done and then wake up four hours later confused and just as exhausted as when I fell asleep. When I want to sleep my brain takes the opportunity to give me a rundown of mistake I have ever made, everything I wish I had said but didn’t and everything I wanted to do but couldn’t. I feel like I’m trapped in my own head.
I wrote papers and failed to turn them in because I was so completely disappointed by what I had written. Then I lay in bed and wondered why I couldn’t be better. I get so angry and nervous that I don’t eat when I know I should. I sleep too much or not enough. I don’t remember what happens during the day and I don’t really want to because there doesn’t seem to be much worth remembering. There were days where I was filled with this incredibly certain sense of doom, not just for myself but for every single person that I saw. I couldn’t even look at other people without feeling scared and anxious.
This is by no means an account of the worst of human suffering, I still have a lot of joy and opportunity in my life. I tend to tell myself that I haven’t suffered enough to deserve help but you don’t have to have the world’s saddest story (played on the world’s tiniest violin) to ask for help or to need it. The argument that you should be grateful things aren’t worse is meant to give perspective. I used the fact that I wasn’t completely miserable all the time to avoid addressing the problem.
Berea is imperfect, there doesn’t seem to be enough counselors to meet the demand. I wasn’t sure that white counselors would understand my racial angst or that they would even be open to hear about it. However the counselors are all incredibly well trained and invested people. If you need to talk to someone immediately you will be seen. Nothing has been resolved. I have unresolved task piling up that I have yet to turn in. I haven’t registered for classes. I am still academically a mess, I’m still tired and angry and inexplicably sad but in addition to those things I’m a little hopeful which is a start.