An open letter to whoever will read it:
I am not okay. I am a 26-year-old army veteran. I am an accelerated student taking 20 or more credits every 10 weeks. I am in recovery.
I am not okay. On the outside I smile, I laugh, I make jokes and, most importantly, I pretend to be something I am not.
I am not okay. I am sad. And I wish more people would know. I wish I was honest with my parents about how unhappy I am. I wish I told my roommate that I am not eating because the thought of eating makes me want to vomit because of how I look, instead of saying that I just forget to buy groceries.
I am not okay. But that’s okay. Are any of us really?
As Drexel students, we are subject to some of the hardest terms. Yes, I’m taking 20 or more credits every quarter, but so are so many of my other classmates. They are more than likely just as stressed and upset as I am. Everyone has their own unique battle. So, why am I wallowing in my own self-pity? Because I can, and I will. There are so many of us that are hurting as much as I am right now. The difference is that I have a support group to fall back on. A support group that does not know the extent of how I am feeling but is still there if I need it. Many people don’t have that.
Yes, we have a counseling center, but what does that mean for the people that are too scared to reach out for help? Are they left in the dust? Are they forced to just “figure it out their own way?” I promise you, the route is dark, scary and lonely. As a veteran, I have had three friends succumb to their post-traumatic stress and take their own lives. As a recovering addict, I have seen so many of my friends who were unable to get back on the wagon lose their life to addiction. I feel guilty because I know I could have been there to help each and every one of them. It hurts the most when you know you could have done something to help but didn’t. It’s that bystander effect.
The thing is, how many of us share those mental health posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram? I’m guessing a fairly decent number. How many of us preach in class and to our family and to the older generations the importance of mental health? Probably as many. Yes, it does raise awareness, but just like putting a black box on your Instagram, that is the furthest many people go. It’s slactivism. It’s talking the talk, not walking the walk.
We need to come together as students, friends and community members of this crazy world and just listen to one another. That’s all it takes. Just listen. Advice isn’t always necessary. Just let them know you are listening and that their words are not going unheard.
I am not here to tell you how to live your life. But I’m also not here to let anyone feel the pain of being alone. I am locked up in my apartment writing at 6:38 in the morning. I am in a slump, but I will get out of it.
Whatever you are feeling, just know that it is okay. You are loved and you are appreciated. You will make it out. Always remember the beat will go on.
I’m not okay. And that is okay.