I think good mental health is knowing
that even though today wasn't the best day and not everything went according to my plan, I'm
gonna wake up tomorrow and I'm gonna try again. It's the ability to be able to deal with everyday situations, good
or bad, positive or negative, to the best of your abilities. So to me good mental health
is always finding the energy you need to try. We teach all kinds of coping mechanisms to other
people, we tell other people how they could you know, live their life in a better way all the
time. We always forget to like imply those same rules on our life. I don't understand why
everybody else's emotions are so much more important than our own. I have actually had an
interesting battle with mental health issues. um so in the final year of my high school, I got into
this terrible accident which eventually led me to have ptsd, or post-traumatic stress disorder, and
that is something that I lived with for two years. When we boil it down it's you reliving one
incident, or more than one incident that happened with you, over and over again.
your trauma doesn't let you let you escape. It's when it holds on to you and it makes you feel like
you're reliving it every day even if you're not. So that doesn't just come with, you know, one
particular thing, that oh my god I'm thinking about my trauma over and over. No it is insomnia,
it is panic attacks, it is always being hyper vigilant, um you're on quite honestly, most
people that have suffered through this know that they're always scared like something's
gonna happen at any second.
It's anxiety, it's extreme depression, it's not being
able to feel any form of joy, and just when I was getting over… So there was
a very small period between when I got over it and when I started college so uh it's not
something that I'm completely absolutely over but I will say I'm 90 percent better. It's still
something that comes back to me often on and off, and I believe that this has been one of
the most greatest and most gruesome battles I've ever had to um fight in my life. And
especially coming from a society like mine, I come from Pakistan, I'm an international
student here so um… I come from Pakistan and mental illness is incredibly stigmatized. It
reflects very poorly on a family's lineage and can influence others beliefs about
the sustainability of an individual. So every single time you actually start talking about
mental health in our society you are expected to shut up.
You are not expected to say
it out loud, you're not expected to uh, let others be aware about it.
Sure if you're struggling with it, keep it to yourself. Don't be verbal and vocal
about it because going to… Since we come from such tightly knit family cultures going to
therapy and asking for help is a lot harder to do in um Asian and Middle Eastern cultures
when compared to other cultures because it stresses uh, like our cultures they stress
that family or community can meet a person, like all a person's needs, and this has
kind of like perpetuated this concept that individuals should not seek professional help when
they're relying on their family and community. So even though this was something that I was
always consciously or subconsciously aware of, when it happened with me it hit me like a
I was so shocked by it and I thank god so much that i have two incredible parents who
got me the help I needed when i needed it. I knew that this is something that I want to
work towards for the rest of my life, and to help destigmatize these areas where mental
health awareness benefit greatly. Because there's so many people who just go undiagnosed
for years constantly just living in this, you know, bottle and being suffocated in there
due to their own brains. Once i went to therapy and started talking about my trauma I start, I
realized that just talking wasn't enough for me so then I started actually consciously
working on myself. Which meant I was also looking into religious alternatives because I
am a religious person, and i feel like whenever you analyze a person and know that their
relationship with god is somewhat strong, let them depend on it a little bit too. So therapy
is not always just going to therapy, it's also a it's an amalgamation of things.
So for me specifically it was going to sessions or talking about my trauma.
tried to talk about it every day at least once so that i could get more used to it but that was just
my way of coping. It's not medically diagnosed relying on god, and knowing that there's an
entity out there who is protecting me but it doesn't have to be the same for people who are
not religious or don't believe the same way. And the third and the last exercise I, that is when I
started working on my body. That's when I started working on um making better changes because um,
my accident left me with visible scars, so every time I looked at them it triggered me.
So once I
started working on my body I was able to neglect some of the flaws that I had started seeing on
myself. So um, for me it was doing multiple things and at the end of the day every night before I
tried to go to bed. I was telling myself that even if today was hard we're gonna try the next
day, we're gonna try the day after, we keep trying because I like myself and this person that I
look in the mirror is not someone I recognize. Sure so I want, I want the girl who used to
be happy and excited all the time and jumps on someone, who's excessively loud. I want that
girl back because she's someone most people like and she's someone I like, and I am
not fond of the person I've become. So this was more to be happy with myself
than it was to just be okay in general, because you can be okay and still not be
I personally, once I came here, I was homesick for a little bit and that was
actually triggering everything else, so once I felt like I wasn't in a comfort zone once, I
felt like I wasn't in a place where I absolutely felt like home, which is very different now. But
um in the first month or two months actually I struggled a lot with trying to fit in not because
it was a cultural shock. But because where I am I barely have much community around me that
resonates with me um or any family whatsoever. So and this is my first time, this was my my first
time living away from home um so knowing that my family is like 3,000 miles away and there's nobody
I can fall back on that is something that can sometimes be very challenging and emotionally
So um I went to our counseling center multiple times and we have therapy sessions where
we actually not only listen to the set of student, not only do actual counseling, but also
teach them coping mechanisms and how they can cope with their situation much better. And it
doesn't just help you with that it also helps you with your classes Say you're having issues with a
class we can actually reach out to your professors with your permission and say that okay this
student is struggling with something can we just pay a little extra attention.
Or if you're having
trouble organizing your life in general and your classes in general, that is something
that they help with too. And then we have c3 program that is called College Community
Connections, and they can connect you with multiple resources off-campus in the community
if, should you need therapy should you need help. So in that entire, you know, community, it's just
that we have built on campus there are multiple resources that a student can use in
order to help themselves. For me I think the first step towards destigmatization is
always going to be educating people.
Educate people about mental health and why it is not a
taboo and why it shouldn't be a hush-hush thing It's not something that you're supposed
to take and carry with yourself every single day It's not supposed to
be a burden. We're humans and we're, most of us I believe are capable of emotions and
feelings. That's who we naturally are. Our natural instinct is to feel we don't know enough about how
therapy and how going to a therapist can actually benefit you.
We think that we're only supposed to
go to them when we're struggling through something or when we're going through a crisis. Uh-uh.
Therapy should just be a year-round thing. You should just go to therapy for the sake of going
to therapy. You should go in there and talk about how you, you're feeling, how your week has been.
It's something that helps you sort out your life and sort out your emotions, and help you realize
and pinpoint what made you happy, what made you sad, what are the things you like, what things
you don't like. It's an immensely powerful tool and I believe that across SUNY campuses we are
providing students with multiple opportunities to access these facilities throughout their school
years, for free. Your school is making sure the therapy isn't a burden, so when you have that
resource when you can actually go in and just yell out – I hate my professor! My classes suck! Math
is hard! I hate biology! Just go in to say that. And we laugh about it so much that we just
need to go into a panic room and scream out that that's what therapy is.
Go there, talk about
what's bothering you. It doesn't even have to be, oh my god, I feel depressed, oh my god
i feel like i am struggling through a traumatic situation. Oh something happened.
No, it can just be I had a very rough week. My peanut butter sandwich fell out of the
window, my classes were terrible, my professor is difficult. I got a 70 instead of 90 on my
test and I just feel like this week sucked. That is as important as going into therapy and
saying, hey I went through this and I don't know how to deal with it. Help me cope with. It, it's
just as important. You're not a crazy person to want to go and talk to somebody. It is not a bad
thing to ask for help. A lot of the students that I've seen, even on my campus sometimes, they
feel like asking for help not just mentally, academically, professionally, socially… they
feel like asking for help makes them seem like a weak person. Like they don't know how to
hold up on their own. Reaching out trying, getting help never hurts anybody.
There is no
bad outcome from it. So start with one day at a time, and if you feel like your struggle has
intensified, you can't cope with things anymore, and you're not okay with going to therapy, seek
a friend or your teachers. Most of our teachers are qualified enough to help you get through a
situation. And when your teachers know you're struggling, they're more likely to help you.
Because a teacher can't tell that you're not going to make your assignment because
you're not in a, in the right headspace. You have to let your teacher know that. I
have realized that talking to my professors and connecting with my professors has made a world
of a difference in my education.
Because not only, listen, also little tip off the entire issue of
mental health… if your teachers know who you are and they can recognize your face, they're more
likely to give you better recommendation letters because they know you as a person. But coming back
to mental health, if your teacher doesn't know you're struggling and you don't tell them you're
struggling, they're just gonna think you're like every single other student in the class who is
either working in the right head space with the right resources at the right time, but still not
making assignments, which is going to make you make them dislike you more because, because of you
they have to check papers at the, in the next week which they shouldn't have. But yes, speak to your
professors, talk to your teachers, tell them you're struggling. And they don't have to know the details
of it just tell them hey, I'm sorry I'm letting you know this but I know that it's not, uh, it's unfair
of me to ask for extra time or stuff like that, because some teachers don't do that, but I'm not
in the right head space.
I don't have the energy or the will in me to be able to complete this task.
I'm trying to find it, and actually try to find it, and work from there. And then if you have therapy
on campus, I can't recommend that enough. I can't recommend therapy enough. Go to therapy just
for the sake of it. Do it for shits and giggles. Just do it so you can come out of the room and
tell your friends, oh I went to therapy today. Um, but do it because once you get into that
safe space, once you try opening up, once you try to talk about what is happening in your
day-to-day life and how you're making it through… because like I said we're all
struggling in one way or another. Once you start talking about those
struggles you're going to realize how easy it's going to become to deal with them,
because when you pinpoint an issue it's very easy to find a solution.
When you don't know what
the problem is it's harder to find a solution. If you don't know you have to find the value of
x, you're never going to find the value of x, so go ahead and reach out because
that's going to help you the most..