Prohibited pens and dried-out markers

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Prohibited pens and dried-out markers

Nathan Flahardy Design & Photography Editor

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According to the American Psychological Association, “About one-third of U.S. college students had difficulty functioning in the last 12 months due to depression, and almost half said they felt overwhelming anxiety in the last year” since 2013 when the National College Health Assessment made the survey. 

The APA further said, “30 percent of students who seek services for mental health issues report that they have seriously considered attempting suicide at some point in their lives, up from about 24 percent in 2010.”

Getting help can be intimidating. I didn’t expect my parents to take me seriously. I didn’t expect them to let me see a doctor for a checkup. When I did see my doctor, I didn’t receive what I had expected. Throughout my treatment I’ve wanted relief and have only been told to be patient. But time did prove to be on my side. It brought me to a clearing. My story may be a tad dramatic, but it’s a testimony that help is there for those who need it. 

  Driving home, I realized how easy it would be at the right speed to turn the wheel and find relief. 

  A gruff, dispassionate clerk asked if I was suicidal. I nodded. After changing into scrubs, I was led into a room with a series of couches separated by walls that had TVs embedded in them. I waited for six hours, listening to others’ shows. Time passed quickly as I lay numb.    

  Sparse sleep made me feel better. All the same, I was strapped into a stretcher. The ambulance came to a set of iron bars I hoped were meant to keep others out. I asked if I was in the looney bin. A kindly nurse answered that the establishment was this or that — a nice way of saying yes.   

After being interviewed, they handed me the release papers and said it’d be three days before I could leave.   

Gradually through the dull days I was filled with causeless, unbearable pain. There was some solace. I became reliant on the schedule. When things were late, I wearily watched the clock, cursing the nurses. 

Though pens and pencils were prohibited, I dried out markers writing the time away. My papers were filled with incoherent babble and complaints, but they and a novel kept me sane.    

 Of those working at the institution, the doctors were best at putting me at ease. When they came around, I became antsy as others were called and I strained to hear my name.    

  My parents visited when they could. They gave me their testimonies. My dad showed me his scars and joked how it felt better than the pain inside. My mom told me about her chronic depression and issues with anxiety.    

  Yet they didn’t trust doctors, didn’t believe that I was going to be helped there at the hospital. At the time I thought it was them not taking my illness seriously. I cried and repeated “I’m in a mental hospital,” hoping that I’d convince them I was sick.   

  By the end of my stay I was somewhat cheerful. I had made friends I wouldn’t keep, and had gotten the help my parents adamantly denied the existence of. I went home in a much better state, though not cured.    

  I still dragged my feet and hung my head. I was still anxious without any help from my parents.  

When my mom testified the power of prayer, I refused to comply. She asked me how she could help when I denied the only truth she had.   

  I had been offered group therapy but requested individual sessions instead. The strangest thing about it was my inability to communicate my problems. I would often discuss concerns regarding life and academics, but never seemed to touch the roots of my anxiety or depression.  

  I expected to find the cause of each and root them out. I’m not sure what I’ve found instead.