I first learned about mental health the summer before entering my senior year of college. After years of perfectionism, continuous negative self-talk, low self-esteem, isolating myself on and off, and grappling with my ideological views, my mental health took a dive from the stresses of college life. When I was introduced to the term “mental health” during that summer, the summer of 2015, I realized how out of touch I was from self-acceptance. I constantly drove myself to exhaustion trying to prove myself to myself. It wasn’t until I reached my mental and emotional limit that I started taking care of my mind.
Exhaustion, Perfectionism, and Self-Neglect
My self-worth, for most of my middle school and high school years, directly linked to my productivity and how much work I did. If I didn’t perform in the ways that satisfied my perfectionism, I mentally abused myself with negative self-talk. Because college demanded so much of me mentally, emotionally, and physically, it became difficult to satisfy my perfectionism. I reached my breaking point because I couldn’t keep up with my own expectations. The lists that constantly plagued my mind got longer and longer.
Once unable to move at the same pace as the environment around me, I fell into episodes of dissociation. Everything appeared blurry as I continued to push myself closer to my limit. The less I ate, slept, and talked with others, the more I felt the worry in my gut become more intense and overbearing.
Panic resulted from continued self-neglect. Calming myself seemed impossible. I was exhausted every moment of every day.
Anxiety, Depression, and Enlightenment
One of my advisors suggested I go see a counselor in the Counseling Center when she noticed changes in my behavior. Stubborn, depleted, and afraid I thought I could fix what was wrong on my own. I did not need or want anyone’s help.
It took some time to see a counselor but when I started, I learned about the effects of my perfectionism and negative self-talk. I realized the depression and overwhelming anxiety I felt was because of the thoughts and worry that occupied my perspective. I wanted to free myself from expectations and the obligation of overachieving.
What I learned…
Therapy has taught me to be gentle with myself and to take one day at a time. I’m learning to give myself permission to take breaks and make mistakes. I’m learning to love myself even if I haven’t accomplished all I thought I should by this point in my life.
My worth is not a product of how much I can get done, but who I am already.
Writing to Heal
I write and talk about my mental health because I know what it’s like to feel alone, unwanted, worthless, hopeless, and unaccomplished. I know what it’s like to feel invisible, to worry to the point of a panic attack, and to feel trapped. I write and talk about my mental health because deep down I wish I can hug and show all those who suffer silently that they don’t have to suffer alone. I write to share and motivate others to keep going even if they feel they can’t.
I neglected my mental health and thought I wasn’t good enough or worthy of love and life unless I proved myself to be so. I didn’t understand my intrinsic worth or purpose and because of this lived in a constant state of depression and anxiety.
If you are reading this, know that you are more than. You are full of purpose, power, and worth and nothing and no one can strip you of this. No matter what those negative thoughts said, you are doing a great job and I’m proud of you.
Nina is a Latina from Brooklyn, NY who struggles with depression and anxiety. She finds refuge and healing through her writing since she graduated from college in 2016. Nina writes to spread awareness and hope to those who struggle with their mental health silently. She also strives to motivate and encourage self-acceptance. She enjoys creating creative and uplifting content on her blog SparklyWarTanks.com where she shares her experiences, notes, poems, quotes, and articles