One UCalgary student’s story: Be open, be vulnerable, and listen

Posted on February 6th, 2017

A mental health testimonial about the journey back to well-being

By Clare Hickie, Faculty of Arts

My journey with mental illness has been a long one that has spanned most of my time at the University of Calgary. Starting out as an enthusiastic first-year, I never anticipated the many challenges I would face with my mental health during my time as a student, nor the many incredible people and supports that I would find.

When I first began my studies, I felt the anxiety and fears that almost all first-years face; that I wouldn’t be smart enough, that I wouldn’t make any friends, that I wouldn’t find my “fit.” Despite these, however, I found a supportive and engaging campus community that welcomed me with open arms and challenged me to grow academically and personally. I blazed through my first year of university, and had great grades, made awesome friends, and volunteered in Costa Rica. Everything seemed to be going according to the plan I had for myself.

As first year turned into second year, however, I started becoming more and more tired and anxious, with my energy waning and my enthusiasm slowly burning out. Even though I did everything I could to keep up the appearance of the smart, hard-working person I wanted to be, I felt like I was becoming a ghost of my former self. There were days where I would zone out in class, sitting through the entire lecture but not absorbing a single word, or lie in bed all day unable to make my way to work or school. I felt my love and enthusiasm for life slowly slip away, leaving behind a person that I hardly knew. I knew something was wrong, and that I needed help, but I was stuck in a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mentality, and kept telling myself that it would pass and that I could get through it on my own if I was strong enough.

Find out what happened next

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