How Sharing My Story Helped Me
I remember the days leading up to my first year of college were filled with excitement and nerves as I prepared to leave my hometown to go to a large school that was over four hours away. Just as with most college students, I was nervous about making friends and finding my place, especially because I have major social anxiety as well as depression.
Despite my nerves, I found myself enjoying the first few weeks of college. After that, however, I began to struggle as the result of my illness, and soon found it difficult to function throughout the day. I decided to seek out counseling at the Counseling Center. It helped me to work through some of my emotions and identify how some of the ways I was using to cope were actually harmful to my physical and mental health.
I also was referred to a DBT group, in which I met other students with similar struggles.
When I first decided to reach out for help, I had the perception that I was alone in my struggles, which couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Hearing other people speak about their own personal mental health issues made me aware of just how prevalent mental health issues are among college students, but also allowed me to see just how powerful it can be when people choose to share their stories.
As a Psychology student and as someone who has passion for helping to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health, I am continually learning about how mental illness affects people, as well as how to help people who might be struggling. While as a society we have made significant strides in reducing the stigma surrounding mental illness, there are still a lack of stories about personal experiences with mental illness.
I know from my own experience that speaking openly as well as listening to people’s stories is been the most integral to overcoming challenges and eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health. Even if you aren’t comfortable sharing your story, even just being around others who have shared experiences and simply listening can help foster a better understanding of mental health, and can be a great reminder that you are not alone.
This post was written by Skye Sarac. Skye is in her second year at NC State studying Psychology and Political Science. Skye is passionate about decreasing the stigma around mental illness through writing and telling stories, and enjoys learning about anything related to mental health.
If you are interested in sharing your story to help make a difference, email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask about Ending the Silence and In Our Own Voice.