Putting My Mental Health First

I have never been one to struggle with my mental health, but college really took a toll on me. Freshman year was one of the hardest years of my life. My best friend + roommate who I had been friends with since middle school transferred to a different university ++ I was forced to live alone for the first time ever. I grew up in a big family + always had a roommate, so having a dorm room entirely to myself ++ not having very many friends on campus made it super hard to adjust. I became really depressed + felt like I had nobody to talk to. That is when I started journaling + practicing yoga to clear my mind, ++ when I really dove deep within the CHAARG community on Kent’s campus.

After finally starting to make friends in CHAARG + after falling in love with yoga ++ self-help practices, I thought I was fine… until Sophomore year came along ++ it got a little worse. I experienced my first fit of anxiety when a panic attack came over me while walking across campus to my dorm. I was *so* scared because I had never felt anything like that before. It felt like I couldn’t breathe + my chest became super tight even though a minute earlier I felt perfectly fine. I experienced a few more of these panic attacks throughout the year + after some time, I realized that the busier I got [especially with being on Exec for the first time], the worse my mental health got. I figured I could try to help myself through it because I was able to get out of my “funk” the year prior, so what would have been different this time?

Flash forward to this year, my Junior year, + my mental health was at its worst. I was so depressed during Fall semester [my first semester as Ambassador] + I didn’t know how to cope with it. I still hadn’t completely come to terms with the fact that it was depression + anxiety that I was experiencing ++ that I should probably ask someone for help. I had a horrible living situation that had me on high stress all semester long + was dealing with some hard classes all while also leading my incredible Chapter of 300+ members. There were days where I had to skip my classes due to a panic attack that came out of nowhere + other days when I would sit in my car for hours on end just crying by myself + listening to music to try to drown out what my mind was thinking. Oh, how I wish I would have just asked for help.

Towards the end of Fall semester, I figured that the only way to get better is to lessen my work load. I decided I would step down from Exec the upcoming year to focus on myself [as much as it killed me] + possibly even make time to finally go to therapy. Being on Exec + giving back to the chapter what it had given me during my Freshman year has + will always be the BEST experience of my life, but ultimately, taking care of myself + the only mind/body I have is going to outweigh anything else.

I’m still working on learning to take care of myself more + to be more patient with myself, but I think I’ve gotten a really good start especially through CHAARG Strong + the Body Positivity Challenge as well as talking to different women in the CHAARG community. Journaling, doing yoga, listening to music, eating healthy foods, + surrounding myself with the positivity that CHAARG has created is all what is slowly bringing me to a better place. It’s scary to think about where my mind was just a few months ago, when I was overworking myself + creating so much unnecessary stress in my life. I wish that I would have just surrendered to my ego ++ gone to get help instead of putting my mental health on the back burner like I did for so long. I really hope that if any of you are feeling like something isn’t right in your mind, then you should go talk to someone. I know it seems silly + that you may think that others are “worse off than you,” but I promise you that your mental health is + will forever be just as important as your physical health. Learn from my mistakes + take care of the problem early on so that it doesn’t continue to grow ++ get worse!

I am so thankful for everyone who I have met + still am yet to meet in this community because you have all made me a better person over these past 3 years. I truly, honestly don’t know where or who I would be without CHAARG. I owe my life to all of you. Thank you.<3

— Elizabeth Ferry [@eferry_inchaarg], #KentStateCHAARG

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