As I’m plugging along in the last few weeks of my college career, I’m realizing that I’m about to be thrust into the adult world headlong and nothing I can say or do will make it stop, which absolutely terrifies me.
There’s a little more to it than being a control freak, as I am often called. After dealing with depression and anxiety for a little more than five years, I know exactly what I need to do to get from point A to point B without having a depressive episode. The problem is, crossing the stage in a little over a month brings with it more unknowns and unanswered questions that anyone with a chemically unbalanced brain can handle.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 9.8 million adults will deal with a serious mental illness that interferes with one or more daily functions in 2017 alone. A staggering 43.8 million adults will experience mental illness this year in total. In each of your classes, assuming there are about 20 students, four of them will have encountered mental illness in themselves and many more know someone who has.
Even though mental illness is prevalent across the country, it is one of the most stigmatized health problems a person can deal with. Someone struggling with deep episodes of depression cannot take days off as sick days, and the term “mental health day” has become a joke used to get out of a particularly boring or taxing day at work or school. In reality, there are people sitting next to you in class or in the cubicle next door who genuinely need mental health days in order to cope with the severity of their mental illness.
As I get ready to move on from Valpo and settle into my new home in Indianapolis, I am filled with a lot of happiness and closure, but I am also anxious about all the unknowns. As we move closer and closer to graduation day, I am increasingly nervous about what the next year will bring. I’m nervous about the school I’m teaching at and if they will accept me as a teacher even with my mental illness and if they’ll be accommodating to what that means. I’m worried I won’t be able to find mental health care I can afford in the community I will live in. And most of all, I am worried that if I cannot find these resources, my students will not be able to find these resources either.
On the other hand, I feel prepared to practice the self-care techniques I’ve been learning and holding close to me for over six years. The bigger point here is that graduation and entering the adult world is coming, whether I like it or not, and the fact of the matter is that no matter how much I have lined up, how ready I am to embark on my journey as a certified adult, I will always be unprepared. For someone with anxiety and depression, that is the worst realization I could ever come to, but for now, I’m going to keep lining things up, getting my ducks in a row, and hoping I don’t trip on my way across the stage.
The views expressed are those of the writer and not necessarily those of The Torch.