STORY BY JEFF HERSHEWAY
“You are not sick anymore.” That’s what I constantly tell myself whenever I get overly stressed.
You see, a year ago, in response to stress, I would make myself cry, make myself bleed, or vomit any and all signs of nutrients in my body. But I’m better now.
You could say I had a pretty rough freshman year.
While I was adjusting to being away from home last year, I was also diagnosed with severe depression, an anxiety disorder, a mild form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Bulimia Nervosa, which, now that I break it down, kind of sounds like a grocery list for a restless attention-seeking trophy wife in Manhattan.
To say I was mentally ill was putting it mildly.
I kept quiet because I didn’t want to be seen as an over-sensitive drama queen.
I would constantly feel as though I wasn’t worthy of any of my friends, worry that I wasn’t worthy of love.
I once spent three days in my dorm room because of five words I had said to one of my friends, petrified to the point of semi-catatonia for possibly hurting someone.
I’m not posting this in the TD in order to gain sympathy or respect or whatever.
I’m doing it because despite all of the whacked-out stuff I went through last year — including a brief moment in time where I wanted to end my life — I am still standing.
Because I got help, I am stronger than ever. And you can be too.
In our culture, men are supposed to step away from any and all sources of emotional distraught.
Men aren’t supposed to have emotions, men are supposed to have balls, because “ball is life” and life has absolutely no time to feel sad.
We’re either supposed to block emotions off until it’s too late or we’re considered not “manly” men, which is something I’m not cool with.
I am human. I was born with genes that would make it likely that I would have a serotonin deficiency and increase the likelihood of neurological disorders.
What I told myself last year, much like I told myself in my first T-ball game before I threw my glove down on the field, was this: I was not going to sacrifice my own happiness because I would be seen weak otherwise.
Maybe I’m paraphrasing from my T-Ball days, but still, the sentiment was there.
Because I sought out help for my mental problems last year, I am maintaining a spot on the Dean’s List, successfully helping steer my fraternity towards chartering at Drake, holding down two jobs and taking 16 credit hours.
All because I asked for help and got the correct medication.
Your life deserves to be lived, fully. This is a plea to seek help to climb out of the hell of depression.
It is not un-manly to get help. It is inhumane to keep yourself isolated in the shadows until they consume you.
Reach out to your friends, your family and your counselor.
Take solace in the fact that there are people out there who can and will help you.