Say Something: An Essay on Mental Health
Have you ever thought about committing suicide? Yeah, me too. I think many of us do, or at least have, at one point or another. Without trivializing what has been my struggle or yours with destructive thoughts and behaviors, it is common knowledge that life is difficult, in varying degrees for different people, and yet it seems the logical response in times of extreme anguish is to consider all the options for alleviating that feeling—including tapping out. Although so many of us can answer “yes” to the question I posed at the beginning of the paragraph, suicidal thoughts remain a taboo discussion topic, even though speaking openly about our mental health, as stable or unstable as we are, is the best strategy to avoid succumbing to what often are our quick-fix conclusions.
The thing is, whether concerning one’s mental health or the real reason you asked your friend for her brother’s number, it’s important to be open. In fact, it’s necessary. It’s just a matter of how open you are being, and when and where. Context is key. The beautiful thing about Andrews University is that students are freely given the opportunity to express themselves openly, by way of the Counseling and Testing Center (CTS—located in Bell Hall, in case you were wondering), one of the many resources offered to students on campus beyond reaching out to those around us. Providing Andrews University students with free access to trained counselors in a confidential setting, the CTS is one of the most valuable and perhaps least often utilized resources on campus, an opportunity for students looking for assistance reasoning with themselves. It may seem obvious, but self-expression starts with saying something, even if it feels uncomfortable.
At the end of the day, everyone needs someone they can talk to. We all crave some sort of psychodynamic encounter where we can come together with another person, speak openly, and take a moment to truly reason with ourselves. What am I thinking? What I am I feeling? And why? What’s the reason for this behavior? Why am I the way I am? Am I thinking in a way that is healthy for my long term future? Simple questions can have infinitely complex answers.
Let me put it like this—we all have baggage. We far too often spend time kicking ourselves for having collected this baggage instead of trying to get things sorted out and organized. The truth is, the baggage will always be there. The solution isn’t to get rid of it. Instead, take some time to set the bags down, open them up, look around, get familiar with what’s in there, and put it back nicely, so you know where everything is. Get close, get clean, get clear. Get help.