In college, it’s pretty common to hear people refer to themselves as “a literal alcoholic” because they went to Barnyard on a Tuesday night. It’s easy to laugh these comments off and go on with your night, but they can actually minimize what alcoholism is. It is not getting drunk in your freshman dorm a couple of times a week, it’s something that can fully ruin your life and is something that caused me immense amounts of pain throughout my childhood.
Throughout high school, I never placed much priority on my mental health. I would always rather ignore stress and anxiety rather than address it, and I would certainly never ask someone else for help. But, what’s scary about the effects of mental health deterioration is that they’re not immediately noticeable. Unlike physical health, there are more subtle signs of degradation. You only really notice it after the healing process begins and you begin to fix the issues in your life. You only really notice when damage has already been done.
I’m trapped in Faculty Memorial Hall on a Thursday morning, shifting uncomfortably in my seat every two minutes, unable to stop thinking about breakfast sandwiches. I’m copying down the notes from the PowerPoint, tapping my pen against my chin, and drawing random lines in the margins of my notebook. The professor asks the class a question, and I do everything in my power to slip into the void to remain invisible. The lines in my notebook are suddenly the most interesting thing I’ve ever seen! But then, it happens. A giant spotlight shines down from above and hits me directly in the eye. There’s nowhere to run now. I’ve just been randomly called on even though I’ve done nothing to suggest that I want to answer this question.