OSU graduate speaks out about mental health and resources available.
When I was 15 years old, I had my first thoughts of depression. At age 18, I had suicidal thoughts. When I was 21, I started seeing a counselor for what I was dealing with.
The biggest thing I needed to learn early on when addressing my struggle? It wasn’t normal.
This was one of the most humbling yet needed things for me to understand as I dove into the intricacies of mental health, depression and anxiety.
I was as busy as I had ever been—and I did NOT have time for feelings like this. The typical college schedule of class, work, family, friends and all of the drama that comes in between seemed impossible to balance.
The simplest of inconveniences in class or my job or in a relationship became colossal mountains of stress and anxiety. Being around groups of people made me want to hyperventilate. I was always questioning my motives and how I was being perceived by other people.
I wanted to hide under a rock for the rest of my life.
But deep down, I didn’t really want that. I just didn’t want to feel the way I was feeling, all the time. I wanted the lies and sadness to go away.
It didn’t help that I had convinced myself for so long that dealing with depression, anxiety, or suicidal thoughts weren’t a big deal—that it wasn’t worth talking about. It was fine. It was something that everyone feels or deals with, so there’s no need to bring it up. It was normal.
But what did I really need to hear? It’s not normal.
What do I mean by this?
Imagine waking up one morning with a enormous leach on your neck. Like, huge. You see it in the mirror after showering and are horrified. You are petrified of going out into public with it. For years you walk around campus hiding it pretty well. You wear turtlenecks and scarves.
Eventually, it grows and grows to an unnoticeable size. Everywhere you go, you start screaming “IT’S NORMAL. PLEASE DON’T THINK LESS OF ME”.
Now, would anyone think less of you for having something attached to you that you couldn’t control being there? Most people won’t. Most would want to help you rid of the leach.
“We are more valuable than what the lies are telling us.”
Having a battle with mental health is not one’s fault. Anything from a biological disorder, traumatic experience growing up, or difficult season can trigger thoughts that we don’t enjoy.
We think that if we admit to having mental health issues and having “not normal” thoughts, that we will have to be tossed into a white padded room in a straitjacket, or it will be a big sign of weakness to everyone in our lives.
The reality is that our thoughts of suicide, depression, loneliness, you name it—are not normal, and that is OKAY. These are not thoughts that we as people are meant to buy into, dwell in and put up with. It’s OKAY that they’re not typical thoughts.
In fact, they shouldn’t be typical thoughts, because we are more valuable than what the lies are telling us.
Admitting our weaknesses is truly a sign of strength and step to not having to experience these kinds of thoughts all the time. The more we recognize these thoughts as abnormal, the closer we are to a solution and getting better and understanding that we are intrinsically valuable.
Mental health struggles can be as extreme as suicide, but don’t have to be. Struggling with consistent anxiety and/or depression is not something that we should brush off. If it goes untouched or untreated, it can lead to worse thoughts and feelings.
So—what’s your first step?
Ohio State has an abundance of resources to help you or people around you who may be battling any problems regarding mental health:
IMPORTANT: Being a good friend is not just listening—it’s acting. If you or someone you know is an imminent danger to themselves or someone else, go to the nearest ER or call 911. This is not overreacting or being too dramatic. This is being smart, and could save a life.
Free online screening:
Other important resources:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
National 24/7 Suicide Hotline: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)
Columbus, Ohio Suicide Hotline: (614) 221-5445
Military Veterans Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (Press 1)
Suicide Hotline in Spanish: 1-800-273-TALK (Press 2)
LGBT Youth Suicide Hotline: 1-866-4-U-TREVOR
CRISIS TEXT LINE: TEXT “START” TO 741-741 (THIS IS FREE, 24/7, CONFIDENTIAL).