When I first got to college, I felt like I was living my dream. I had been accepted to my first-choice school, was living in New York, and was studying a career I knew was for me. Yet, as the year advanced, feelings of numbness and sadness became more familiar than content and excitement. This is how I learned to prioritize my mental health in college. I can't say that I'm an expert on the topic, but I'm working on it.

In high school, I always considered myself a good student. Sure, I got stressed every now and then. And yes, not every grade was perfect, but overall I was a pretty good student. When college came around, I thought my experience would be the same, but it really wasn't.  

I started struggling a lot with my depression and anxiety. I quickly had to understand that if I wanted to achieve something, I needed to accept that I wasn't going to be the best student . And that was okay. I had to come to terms with the fact that I might not be able to reach all the goals I had in mind, but I could still be a really good student. Just not a perfect one. I needed to know that even if I had planned for a 3.9 GPA, a 3.6 one wasn't a bad alternative to the plan.

I started prioritizing my mental health when it started interfering with my physical health, and I wish I had done it before. It wasn't until my sleep schedule, eating and nervous habits were worrying my friends that I noticed I really wasn't fine. 

After expressing my concerns to my support system and my therapist, I started to feel better. I realized there was no reason to be ashamed of what was happening to me, and that the only way I could prevent this from happening later was through self-care. I started to express my feelings a lot more and to spend more time with my support system. It wasn't instantaneously, but through this, as well as meditation and exercise, I know I can start to feel like myself eventually. I also started journaling, painting, and reading more on the topic of self-help and on how your attitude can have a positive impact on your life. I know this might sound a little too much work, but it really is not for all the positive results it yields. 

For anyone struggling with a similar experience, know that the most important thing you can do is stay strong and look for help. Know that with professional help and the support of everyone who cares about you, healing is possible. Know that we are all different and react differently to all our experiences. There is no specific way to go through college. Remember that it is your own experience and no one else. 

Remember that needing time for yourself is not a sign of weakness and that your health should always come before any academic achievement. Most importantly, don't forget that you don't have to go through life alone. The support of some people might surprise you if you give them a chance.