Freshman year isn’t easy for anyone, let alone an east coast-native trying (and failing) to find her way in the city of stars. To be perfectly honest, my first few months at Loyola Marymount University were filled with anxiety, phone calls home, and the freshman twenty (I wish I were kidding). I was depressed and lonely. I had seen the posters for Student Psychology Services on campus but never thought they could help me. After frequent headaches and jaw pain brought me to the Student Health Center, the nurse practitioner referred me to SPS upstairs. I was immediately confused. I came in for head and jaw pain, not a mental illness. The nurse explained that she suspected my pain was a result of my stress and anxiety of school. Reluctantly, I scheduled an appointment to see a therapist.
A few weeks later I found myself sitting on a couch opposite a man named Michael with a long white ponytail and a deep voice. He asked how I was feeling and, without warning, all the pushed-down feelings I’d been fighting since my sophomore year of high school came right back up to the surface. As I started explaining the overwhelming sadness, anger, and fear I’d been experiencing, other things came out without any sort of filter. I said things I never even knew I’d been feeling. That day was the first of many, many Friday mornings I spent opposite Michael on that couch. After the first few weeks, he asked if I wanted to see a psychiatrist in order to look into medication. I said yes. This doctor prescribed me Prozac and Wellbutrin, an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) and aminoketone, respectively. Both doses began low and slowly increased as the year continued. The transformation was incredible. My energy increased, my anxiety lessened, and the constant, heavy sadness in the pit of my stomach was far more bearable. I saw the psychiatrist once a month to monitor my progress.
By the end of the year, I was able to articulate and identify my feelings instead of pushing them down and struggling alone. I did end up transferring schools (that an equally, if not more, complicated story), but the support I received from LMU’s SPS will forever be something I’m thankful for. It wasn’t easy to seek help in the first place, but I’m so glad I did.
Let me be clear: I am by no means cured. I think my depression and anxiety will be constants in my life for the foreseeable future. I’ve accepted that. But therapy and medication helped me get all of it under control.
A note to students:
To any college student struggling with what the suspect may be mental illness: your school most likely has confidential, free-of-charge services available designed to help you like LMU’s SPS helped me. Don’t be ashamed or afraid to seek help. It may end up saving your life; it saved mine.