We live in an unfair world and that’s me being kind. More often than not, bosses and supervisors would rather find someone who doesn’t struggle with a mental illness and who doesn’t need accommodations or need to create that sense of ‘extra work.’
I am currently a senior psychology major on a pre-law track and I have fallen into the box of ‘extra work.’ I have suffered from depression, anxiety, OCD and an eating disorder for many years now and it has been a long journey to be able to share my story.
My depression started my junior year of high school and I was raised in a Haitian household where mental illness was not something we talked about. The culture of Haiti rarely leaves room for suffering from a mental illness because if you have food and a roof over your head, what do you have to be depressed about? This concept is one that I struggled with for a long time because I wasn’t allowed to have a mental illness. I went through all of high school without getting any help or treatment for my conditions and that only made them worse when it came to moving five hours away from home to college.
College is a big transition for everyone and with the added stress of not having a support system in Rhode Island, I knew I needed to seek treatment. However, this was the first time that I had ever went and sought counseling and I pushed back going to the Counselling Center time and time again. Finally, I went to the Counseling Center at URI and from then on the journey to recovery really began.
Once I was able to speak with a counselor I was able to put a label on the symptoms, thoughts, feelings and struggles I had been going through. Once I had the labels, I was able to find the person beneath all the labels. I finally felt like I had gotten control of my life back and love all the things that I used to.
Now I don’t feel like ‘extra work’ but more that I am working to be the self that I want to be. That was a lesson that took years and years to learn and a lesson I am still trying to learn.
My advice to anyone reading this that is struggling in silence is that there is no one magic pill or one therapy session that will fix it all, but everyone has something that they struggle through. Everyone has something in their life that they wish was easier, whether it be money, friends or family, but facing those challenges head on and helping others do the same will end this fear that everyone has to speak on mental illnesses. Being brave can not only change your life but could impact someone else’s.