Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness

Madeline Bruce, Features Editor

My whole life, I’ve always been an overachiever. This may be a result of my need to succeed at everything I do, or my perfectionist tendencies, but I’ve always tried to go above and beyond with everything I do. I always wanted to get the best grades I could, hold the highest positions I could and overall take advantage of every opportunity that came my way.
I still am that person, but in the past few months, my need for success has become enveloped in a shell of anxiety, keeping me paralyzed with fear of failure, but unable to do anything to prevent that failure at the same time.
I have always been an anxious person. I have always worried about the outcome of things or certain situations I knew probably would not actually happen. But those anxious moments were few and far between and did not affect my daily life whatsoever.
With the pandemic, that changed. I’m not sure if there’s any correlation between the two, but I know that before we were sent home in March, I did not have crippling anxiety that I feel every moment of every day. Now, the anxious feeling never goes away. Sometimes, it prevents me from going to class. Others, from sleeping. I can push through my day most of the time, but it’s always there.
I started having panic attacks in July. I’ve never experienced a panic attack before, and I knew that was a sign to seek help. I had been thinking of seeking out mental health counseling since before the pandemic, but I put it off because I didn’t think I really needed it. I was doing just fine without help. Plus, I felt help was a sign of weakness and of not being strong enough to help myself.
Of course, I didn’t have this mindset toward others and their mental health struggles. I pushed my friends, and even my family, to seek out counseling or medication. Only when it came to myself and my own struggles did I think seeking help was weak. I guess that is part of the overachiever in me. I have always needed to succeed on my own, without any help.
That first panic attack was like a wake-up call to me. I didn’t want to keep feeling the way I was feeling; scared that the most minor daily occurrence would set off a panic attack.
I started this semester with the same fervor I started every semester leading up until now. I jam-packed my schedule, thinking that because I had done it all of last year, I could do it again. That quickly proved to not be the case. Within the first two weeks of classes, I struggled to keep control of my life and my anxiety more than I ever have. This made me realize that I need to give myself time and space from the things I do. My classes, jobs and activities are all things that I enjoy, but my mental health was sending a cry for help, and I needed to stop and answer it.
I’m still struggling, don’t get me wrong. I’ve only just started to navigate my mental illness. I have a diagnosis, and I’m now figuring out how to manage my life and my anxiety. It’s clear that this is something I’ll never get rid of, and I have to learn how to live with it.
If you are struggling with mental health issues, I encourage you to seek help. It isn’t weak, no matter how much your mind may try and convince you that it is. There’s no shame in doing what’s best for yourself.

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