College Essay: Mental Health Advocate

One month ago, I had a mental breakdown.

Siri Vossen
Siri Vossen

I was sitting on the couch alone in my basement, working on an English project that was one month late. My computer screen held all of my other missing assignments in other tabs.

The mental checklist was over- whelming: Two class discussions in English, an essay in history, two labs in science, 10 assignments in health, an upcoming French test, and a big project and a load of notes to take in math. Altogether, it would take weeks to catch up.

For the past month, I was focused on things other than school work. My friends excluded me every day. When I came home from school, I was distant from my family, who rolled their eyes at my constant droopy mood. It felt like I was a burden to everyone around me.

My days at school had been depressing all year. But finally, after what felt like the millionth depressing day in a row, I reached my breaking point. My eyes welled up in tears and my hands started to tremble. Before long, my whole body was shaking. The pain was almost nauseating. As I faded away, I reviewed every moment in my life that could have possibly led to this very moment. What could I have done differently? When did it all go wrong?

My mom came downstairs eventually and told me to get ready for soccer practice. I covered my face with my sweater, hiding my tears.

“I’ll be there in a minute,” I said.

It took willpower to stand up, and more to get to practice. The 60-minute session of drills, scrimmages and conditioning was torture. My low energy was visible to my coaches, who insisted I pick up the pace as I barely dragged my feet around the field. Normally, I cared what my teammates and coaches thought of my effort. But at this practice, I couldn’t care less. I felt numb.

That feeling didn’t go away when I went home, or in the days that followed. It suddenly felt like noth- ing mattered. I did my best to seem OK in front of my family, but in private, I was hurting. It took a lot to get out of bed every morning and every day became harder than the last. The best way I can explain the pain I felt is like a knife constantly being twisted into me.

Because this time in my life was so hard for me to face, I decided that I wanted to do anything in my power to prevent others from feeling the way I felt. I wanted to be a mental health professional before, as the human mind has always interested me, but this made me want to do it for a whole other reason. Now I wanted to do it so people like me can know that they have someone they can talk to about what they’re going through and that it doesn’t have to last forever.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 17 percent of teens ages 12-17 in the United States have faced at least one depressive episode. Being one of those people, I want to contribute to helping turn these statistics around.

My experience has really shaped the person I am today because it has made me stronger and more independent. Although I can say I helped myself more than anybody else, Idon’t think I’d be where I am without my therapist’s guidance, and that’s why it’s so important for me to go into this field.