Backburner Mental Health

Updated: Feb 20

I spent nearly my entire time in undergrad putting off my mental health. I struggled with depression and numerous insecurities, but I had things to accomplish, so I put feelings on the backburner and said I would “get around to it”.

Entering a PhD program in the Fall of 2018, I had the same mentality but reached my boiling point. It became a struggle to get out of bed. Everything made me cry. And if I wasn’t crying, I was covering sadness with humor. My relationship with alcohol got weird for a little bit. I could not stop thinking about reasons I wasn’t good enough — it was constantly on my mind. If I achieved anything, it was an oversight. If I made a mistake, it’s because I was an idiot and would soon be found out.

I can’t say what changed.

I still have days, even weeks, where those feelings return, but now I am aware and am no longer putting my mental health on the backburner. I started to talk about it and encourage my peers to do the same. Half of why I like to be open about it is because talking simply makes me feel better. And the other half is that I hope my experience can help even just one other person.

I tried three different therapists in a year and was defeated that I had to try so many times. I started an SSRI that could possibly only be working, if at all, via placebo. I meditate sporadically and forget to do it for weeks at a time.

I’m not done looking for solutions.

Next, I’d like to try and start a graduate student mental health program for my department. Maybe it will succeed, maybe it won’t. And I want to emphasize that I am NO where close to where I want to be. But my mental health is no longer on the backburner, and my only regret is that I wish I had taken it off sooner.

Thank you to author @ebottorff17 on Instagram and @el_bo_lab on Twitter!