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When what is supposed to be the “best time of your life” actually isn’t; dealing with mental illness in college.Written by: Where I Stand blogger Alexa Witcofsky
I could probably pay my entire college tuition if I had a nickel for every time I heard the phrase,“this is going to be the best four years of your life.” That line is repeated so often it becomes engraved in our heads as a societal norm. For me, this became unnecessary pressure. After my freshman year, I was angry at all the people who told me this slogan with a big grin on their face.
Everyone else has an amazing time in college and I feel absolutely miserable. THESE are the best years of my life??
As many of us know, the responsibility, stress, and new environment that comes with our first year in college can exacerbate or even initiate mental health issues. Yet even though many people experience this, we often end up feeling alone. I believed for a long time that something was wrong with me because college wasn’t the greatest experience of my life. I thought that something I was doing must have been holding me back from what everyone else had. In some ways it had- my eating disorder and depression took an entire year of my college experience away from me. However, looking back I now realize I have gained so much more than I ever lost. Through my experiences and my recovery I have learned that you don’t just go through college, you grow through college.
College may not be the best four years of your life, and that is okay. College is a time to figure out who you are. You will learn about yourself, your values, your personality and the way you handle responsibility as well as stress. Not everything that happens is good, but it’s also important to remember that not everything is bad. My favorite way to think of mental illnesses and the recovery process is to see it as a flower, more specifically a lotus. This flower grows through murky water and blossoms on the surface, emerging beautiful and clean. In my situation, college is the murky water. It has tested me in more ways than I can name, but I know that I will make it to the surface knowing more about myself than ever before.
Although life without challenges seems perfect, I firmly believe that everything we go through can be used to propel us forward. I can use my experiences to connect with and help others, and I can also use them to motivate myself. It may not always be easy, but finding the positives has made my life so much better. So while I may not always look back on the “glory days” of my college years, I will look behind me with a smile at all the reasons why I stand here today, the woman that I am.
I want you to know that college will NOT necessarily be the best for years of your life and that’s okay. If you think you’re struggling with a mental health issues seek help; you’re worth it.