This post was written by one of our Student Mental Health Ambassadors, sharing their personal experience with mental health. They've chosen to remain anonymous.
It wasn’t a big deal, they muttered. And it wasn’t. She knew that it wasn’t something to panic over, that it wasn’t something worth her time or energy. But there’s only so much one can handle before everything crashes. Isolated, this event would have been a slight inconvenience in her life, but it wasn’t isolated. Nothing was isolated anymore, not for her. The world was too much all the time.
That’s why she was here, trying desperately to mask the tears that threatened to consume her amidst students who didn’t understand why she was reacting as she was. It was just a test grade after all, not even a failing one at that. Did she really have to cry? Everyone got a bad grade at least once in their life, and it wasn’t even as if her grade was ruined - she was still one of the smartest students in her class.
She clenched her fists tightly, sputtering down her emotions, just as she had always done. She put her mask back on, and order was established - the students went back to their seats, forgetting almost immediately.
But chaos still ruled within her. The emotions still crashed, threatening to drown her. What was *wrong* with her? She dug her fingertips into her palms as if that action would help answer her question, but the answer had evaded her for months now.
Every day felt the same. She was just floating at this point.
She would wake up, anxiety her alarm clock. It would follow her throughout the day, her shadow, if shadows commanded attention all the time. There was no evading it. She was struggling with every aspect of life.
It felt like she couldn’t talk to her friends or disturb the peace, like if she did everything would crumble. If she didn’t say she was doing good in response to “how are you?”, the dynamic of the friendship would change. She might not have friends anymore. She didn’t want that, couldn’t have that, not now, so she trudged along, thinking that having no friends was the worst fate to suffer. It was miserable.
Her parents sensed something was wrong - it was obvious, but it was always blamed for other things. They opened the curtains, made her eat more vegetables, made her stick to an exercise routine, and made her drink more water. It probably did help her, but it never treated the root cause. She appreciated the help, but it wasn’t enough. She didn’t know if they would understand, so she kept mum.
At school, she would barely be able to pay attention to classes, doing homework in the middle of the night, cramming for tests out of anxiety. Once curious about everything, she stopped with her endless questions, choosing to gaze at the whiteboard with half-closed eyes brought on by a lack of sleep and a night of racing thoughts.
She still got good grades, though, so teachers thought she was fine. She was smart. But now she didn’t even have that. This test grade had ruined the one thing she had going for her. Now, she had nothing.
Her emotions swelled up again, and she buried her face into her sleeves, letting the tears quietly run their course once more And just as they had, she felt a tap on her shoulder. She looked up with a blotchy, red face, tired of everything. It was a classmate she hadn’t ever really talked to.
They looked at her and spoke. “Hey, are you okay?”
The usual reply was there on the tip of her tongue, but she somehow couldn’t bring herself to say it, so instead, for the first time ever, she spoke the truth.
“I’m not.” And it made her feel as good as she had felt in…forever.
Joining Neolth’s Student Ambassador program has enabled me to share my story in hopes of inspiring others to get help and take care of their mental health. Mental health is so important. Neolth’s personalized practices help with feelings of anxiety, sadness, stress, and much more. Using these practices helps me cope with the academic stress I feel like I did in this story. Sign-up for the app today to try it out for yourself!
At Neolth, we’re on a mission to help students stress less, build resilience and become part of our compassionate community. Our app helps students when they're feeling overwhelmed with self-guided content, including breathing exercises like the one mentioned in this article, personalized for their mental health journey. Neolth has a growing community of Student Ambassadors from 170 schools and works with schools to improve access to mental health support for their students. The company has won multiple awards for its app, including the 2020 Startup of the Year EdTech Award and the 2021 Tech for Good Timmy Award, San Francisco finalist. You can learn more atneolth.com