The Dumb Stigma

Photo%3A+Kirby+Paulson
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The Dumb Stigma

Photo: Kirby Paulson

Photo: Kirby Paulson

Photo: Kirby Paulson

Photo: Kirby Paulson

Juliana Nikac

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This piece of writing has nothing to do with sports; it’s in regards to something that goes beyond a sheet of ice or a freshly cut soccer pitch or the last row in the stands of a football stadium.

I hate that there is a stigma around mental health.

I think that’s complete garbage because quite frankly there shouldn’t be. It isn’t necessarily something that you wake up one day and just choose to suffer from.

My story is simple. At six months old, I was adopted from South Korea and moved to the United States to begin to shape the rest of my life. Seems pretty straight forward, right? A person should be happy that they’re being given a chance to have a better life.

Wrong.

Because of my adoption, I suffered from a few different things including separation anxiety, social anxiety and eventually depression. I struggled to make friends and step outside of my comfort zone: two things that greatly hurt me in my personal development prior to coming to Quinnipiac. Additionally, I would often isolate myself and block the world out when I was feeling sad and alone, denying that anything was wrong even though something clearly was. I never really knew if I belonged at the schools I was at, the town I lived in or if there was even a place out there for me. The fight truly peaked when I contemplated taking my own life a few years ago.

To this day, I’m no longer afraid to admit that, in some cases, those struggles are still very much relevant and I can’t run away from them.

However, the point of this editorial isn’t to gain pity for my past and present mental health battles. It’s to highlight the fact that people everywhere are in this fight and that you are not alone.

Life is difficult. From the time we are born, we are fighting adversity just to grow into the individuals we eventually become. We face challenges every day, testing our patience and our character while applying additional pressure to ourselves. Each person has something from their past that has played a major part in their life and that could be something that just hasn’t worn through the test of time.

College doesn’t necessarily make it any easier. It can consist of some of your best days, but some of your worst as well.

Between school work, extracurricular duties, family troubles, roommate squabbles, you name it: there are a bunch of things that could knock you off of your horse.

The good news is, there are resources available!

At Quinnipiac, there is a counseling service where all it takes is an in-take form to get an appointment booked. The counselors want to be able to help you through times of emotional distress, dealing with problems or simply serving as someone to talk to.

Student leaders are also well equipped to be able to guide you to the best possible resource. Resident Assistants have extensive training in what the school is able to offer and can assist in figuring out your best next step. Additionally, Orientation Leaders, Fraternity and Sorority Life leaders and generally all of the organizational leadership groups on campus can also point you in the right direction to help you move forward.

But it’s not just counselors and student leaders that you can go to when the going gets tough. Friends and family can be incredible confidants who will want to help, don’t be afraid to call home.

I urge anyone fighting a battle to step out, speak out and be bold. You know yourself better than anyone else, but there’s never any shame in asking and admitting that you may need a helping hand to guide you out of the trench.

Additionally, understand that it’s okay to not be okay. None of us are perfect; we all have flaws and things that may weigh us down day in and day out. There shouldn’t be an expectation that any human will be at 100 percent all the time because it’s not realistic. Sometimes the best we can do is try to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and the effort alone is a step forward.

A few weeks ago, I watched and listened as multiple members of our school community took to the stage at an event centered around mental health. They told stories of their struggles; but more importantly, they always ended on their own message of hope. This open conversation was a reminder that so many people are going through things and that is perfectly okay.

They say that faith, hope and love are some good things we’ve been given, with the greatest of these being love. Have faith that you will walk out of this dark tunnel and that you are not alone. Have hope that the days ahead are going to be the best ones. Finally, love. Love yourself unconditionally because you are a beautiful person that is on this earth for a reason. Yes, mental health is ugly and can rear its head during the worst of times. But there are resources to aid, people to confide in and so many puppies to pet at your local pet sore!

Let us continue to challenge each other to break this stigma and have conversations about mental health. Together, we as an existing humanity have the opportunity to walk with those around us through the tunnel and make sure that every person fighting something, no matter what it is, feels supported. Let’s get to work.