When I walked into the room to ask for academic accommodation to receive an extension on two of the five assignments I had due in the same week, I was hopeful that my feelings and my situation would be understood. But, I was wrong. To my dismay, I was basically told it was my fault, that my anxiety was my fault.
It is my fault that I am a full-time student who is working hard to achieve an 80+ average so that I can be accepted into my desired masters program. A student who pours her heart and soul into her work so that she can succeed her desired dreams and goals. It’s my fault I am a workaholic.
It is my fault that I work in two positions which take extensive use of my time, both major editing positions for two different magazines, because it is a requirement in my field of study to have this experience to ensure that I have a career later on. It is my fault that I have to put in hours of this free labour for my schooling and future goals.
Finally, it is my fault that these issues (along with other private ones) have caused me so much distress that I am spending 13 plus hours in my campus Library to attempt to complete everything that university requires a fourth year student to complete. It is my fault that I have so much anxiety, and so the school could not do very much to help me receive the accommodation that I required.
Well, I am here to say that the way schools treat mental health is absolute bull shit. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fighter. In all four years I have spent at my school’s institution, I have never had to ask for accommodation until this year. As someone who has been working with a personal counselor for several years due to anxiety and depression, if I am asking for accommodation for the first time, it is serious. Hell, I didn’t even ask for accommodation when my father had a heart attack!
The point of all of this is that schools need to be better at ensuring their students’ mental well-being needs are met. I was told that what I was experiencing was not the same as if there was a death in the family or if I was physically ill, and that is so wrong to tell a distressed student. We have been talking about mental health for years, and it seems as though society has made vast improvements about it; however, there are still so many people out there who share the belief that being mentally sick is not the same as a physical sickness.
I am here to tell everyone who may be suffering from some mental health issue that your mental health is not your fault. Although some people may try to tell you differently, I am here to say that it isn’t. It is not your fault that you work hard because you have to, it is not your fault that society puts pressure on you to be a certain way or fulfill so many tasks in one day, and it is certainly not your fault that you are suffering from any kind of mental health issue, whether it be anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or anything else. It is not your fault that society does not understand the mental war that occurs inside your brain every single day of your life.
It upsets me to no end that this is the way I was treated, and it saddens me more to know that people who are treated this way don’t have other options. I am lucky enough to have the means to see a personal counselor, but so many others are unable to. We need to be more careful with each other because you never know what might be the breaking point for someone. Thus making them feel like their problems aren’t good enough to receive help for.
Featured image via WeHeartIt.