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Asking for Help

Trigger warnings: Self-Harm. 

I was a scholarship kid at a very high-performing private girls’ school in London. Ever since the intense application process I went through aged 11, I’ve been used to a high pressure, stressful school environment. I’d always struggled with a tendency towards depression, but it was something my family and I kind of overlooked. When I was about 14, I started to have real issues with self-harm, but routinely convinced myself that I was just being dramatic. I never sought help.

At the beginning of spring semester, I found myself locked in the bathroom at 4am, at one of my lowest and most self-destructive points, feeling like I had no one.

Being at Yale has been wonderful in so many ways, but being away from the (admittedly very few) people who knew that I was struggling, combined with all the stressors the transition to college brings, has been tough. Sometimes I could tell I was a danger to myself, but I didn’t feel like there was anyone I could go to. I’ve tried to be more open about the fact that I’m not OK, but when you’re at your lowest, it’s still hard to reach out to someone you’ve known for a few months at most. In my obviously distorted view of things, I have always convinced myself that I don’t have any reason to not be happy, so therefore my problems aren’t worthy of professional help.

Gradually, I’m finding people that I trust to help me when I feel like I can’t cope. My PL has also been invaluable, offering to go with me to talk to someone if and when I feel ready, and generally being there to listen non-judgmentally. I’ve realized that I can’t make the most of my time here until I start taking care of myself.

I had a psychiatric evaluation at Yale Health, but I still wasn’t convinced I deserved or warranted help. The psychiatrist who evaluated me suggested that I should tell my froco I was struggling. I guess the thought didn’t occur to me again until I showed up outside her door in the middle of the night, sobbing and hiding angry cuts with bandaids and a sweatshirt. Even though she didn’t really know what to say, she talked to me. She talked to me about anything and everything else because I asked to be distracted.

Eventually, over spring break, I was assigned a therapist to meet with on an ongoing basis. Within a few weeks of our meetings, she suggested Prozac. As I write this, I’ve been taking Prozac for 41 days, perhaps too soon to see a huge change. But things are changing slowly.

This is really a thank you. I owe thanks to lots of people - to the psychiatrists and therapists at Yale Health who have been attentive and made me feel like I deserved to feel better; to my PL; to my froco, Mila, for literally letting me cry on her shoulder and sleep on her futon when I couldn’t be alone; to the friends who I’ve opened up to, whose calmness has helped me be less afraid to be open; to Jo; most importantly, to Ryan - for letting me curl up on the foot of your bed when I was at my lowest, for watching How I Met Your Mother when I needed to be with someone without talking, for the simplest things like eating breakfast with me every day when I desperately needed consistency and someone to make sure I got up every day, for never judging me and always listening to me, for your friendship.

By Maddie Hicks.