The experience that I have struggled with that inspired me to participate in this project is my ongoing struggle with my physical and mental health. For years I have been struggling with chronic fatigue and pain, which doctors blew off as a symptom of my depression. Going through the process of getting help was difficult. It seemed like doctor after doctor didn’t believe what I was going through and continued to write off all my problems. A few trips to the cardiologist and rheumatologist, as well as many blood tests, led to a diagnosis of POTS and Rheumatoid Arthritis. Finally, I knew what was physically wrong with me and why it was difficult for me to get out of bed and make it to class most days of the week. Being on medication for this illness has begun to make a difference, but I wish I had learned of the issues I was facing sooner so I could have gotten better sooner. Almost worse than all of my physical symptoms were the symptoms of my mental illness. For almost 8 years, I have struggled with intense depression and anxiety, and although some days I felt better than others, I never really had much hope for the future. After the death of a friend and a breakup sent me on a downwards spiral in fall quarter, I began to seek help again.
Recently, I found a therapist who seemed to actually understand what I was going through for once, and I received a new diagnosis: Borderline Personality Disorder. One thing many professionals tell you not to do when you receive this diagnosis is to google it. This is one of the most stigmatized mental health disorders out there, and I knew it would be a struggle to explain to family and friends. Despite this, I have found comfort in the diagnosis and the fact that I have found a treatment that would actually work to improve my mental health, and not just stick a bandaid on it.
I have worked to overcome and grow from the challenges I have been facing by trying to maintain a positive attitude and be open to others about what I am experiencing. I find that one of the most helpful things when I am struggling is having friends, family, and sorority sisters who will listen to and support me, even at my worst. I am so blessed to have so many amazing people who I can count on in my life. Although I am still struggling, I feel like I have a bright future ahead of me and know that I can get through all of this.
Sometimes I am hesitant to post about my struggles on social media because I don’t want to worry my friends, and because everyone else’s lives always seem so perfect on instagram. I don’t want to seem like I’m whining or complaining all the time, and I want to control the image other people have of me. I try my best to seem happy and positive all of the time, and I don’t want people to view me negatively. I think it can be hard for anyone to put their real selves out there on social media and be vulnerable in front of the world. Sometimes I consider sharing about all this on social media. I wish I could tell all of the people in my life the truth about what I’m dealing with, but I have a hard time bringing too much attention to myself. I know a lot of my friends would be supportive, but I am pretty sensitive to criticism and worry about receiving any negative responses. To anyone else struggling with chronic or mental illness reading this, I want you to know that it is okay to be vulnerable and not put on a happy face every day.