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Hannah Brown

My Mental Health Story

by Hannah Brown | Dec 14, 2016

Mental health is just another thing that makes us who we are, along with physical health, the color of our eyes, our favorite movies, books, and what we like on our pizza. I never realized how important mental health was until I learned about it the hard way, dealing with my own mental health. It was a long and slow journey, but here I am, speaking out, and wanting to share my mental health story with all of you.

When I started my first year of college, I thought I had already learned how to deal with my mental health. I was on medication, had been to counseling, had regular visits with a psychiatrist, and had a pretty solid support system. I came to college ready to meet new people, study what I wanted to study, and be independent. College is an amazing time for young adults to learn about themselves, and figure out who they are. College really did that for me, and it still is helping me learn about myself.

My senior year of high school, a close friend of mine was worried about my mental health. He told my guidance counselor that he should call me into his office to make sure I was okay, check in with me, and figure out where to go from there. I broke down, and told my counselor that I was struggling, was experiencing panic attacks, feeling extremely unmotivated to do anything, and feeling enormously anxious over trivial things. My mom was called in, and he told her what I was experiencing, and how to help me. My mom took me to a psychiatrist, and I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder, along with having depressive episodes. That whole year, I spent figuring out how to deal with my mental health, especially with college quickly approaching.

After graduation, vacations, and spending the summer days with my best friends, I headed off to Manchester University, 3 hours away from my hometown. I was very nervous about leaving home, and even more nervous about how my mental illnesses would react to me being in an entirely new place, surrounded by entirely new people. First semester was the hardest, but luckily I had an amazing roommate who was there for me constantly, even helping me make the decision to reach out to Counseling Services and speak with one of the wonderful counselors we have on campus. It helped a lot, but I was still struggling. I spent many days in bed because I couldn’t find the strength and motivation to get out and do something. I had several panic attacks and struggled with the anxiety of walking to class and having to talk to people.

Second semester went smoother, mainly because I tried to hide my feelings of anxiety and depression and cover it up with a smile. I would hide in my room on some days and break down. However, it helped me learn a lot about myself, and helped me realize how important it was for me to focus on myself. The end of my first year of college proved to be one of the harder times of the year. I lost one of my best friends, made new friends only to lose them too, and struggled through some very bad days.

Sophomore year was pretty uneventful compared to my first year when it came to my mental health. I stayed on my medication, and really tried to put myself first, and make sure I was in a good place, mentally and emotionally. Throughout the year, I considered transferring. I wasn’t sure if Manchester was the place for me anymore after struggling with so much my first year. After a lot of reflection, talking with my mom, my friends, my professors, and thinking by myself, I decided that I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Yes, Manchester has seen some of my darker days, but it has also seen so many of my bright days filled with love and laughter. I made new friends sophomore year, friends who have stuck by me ever since, friends who I have confided in about my journey, my recovery, and my story.

Now I’m in my junior year, still on meds, and still struggling some days. However, I’ve come to terms with my journey, with my past, and with my future. I’ve started telling my story in order to helps others with their stories, educate others about mental health, and reassure myself that even though some days are hard, the day always ends and a new one begins.

College is one of the best times of our lives. It’s a magical time where we get to find ourselves, reinvent ourselves, and surround ourselves with the people we choose. I can’t describe how happy I am to be in a place where I get to study what I want to do with my life, make new friends, and be surrounded by professors and faculty members who care about us, and our well being.

“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always”

Hannah Brown '18 is from Yellow Springs, Ohio. She is majoring in Peace Studies with a focus on Social Justice. She also works as a Student Ambassador at Manchester.