Freshman year is rough. Especially when you move 3,000 miles across the country from California to a completely different environment without any friends or family, and a predisposition towards mental illness. Throughout the course of my life I have battled with anxiety and depression on and off. By my senior year of high school it was much less prevalent and with a new exciting adventure in Boston on the horizon at my dream school, I felt untouchable. This was far from the truth. Take a look at how the ECAPS helped my mental health throughout college.
The Honeymoon Phase
I have written before about the seemingly bliss “honeymoon” phase that we all fall into the first couple of weeks or months, depending on the person. You forget about home, your family and old friends, and essentially your worries and focus on this new life ahead of you. But as always, reality sets in and the shiny and new becomes old and tainted and everything is business as usual.
Coping With Mental Illness
For me, this meant my mental illness came back stronger than ever. By the middle of winter, which if I might add, I had never experienced coming from the Golden State, I was more depressed than I had ever been. I struggled to get out of bed in the morning, I skipped class to sleep, assignments that I once breezed through and actually enjoyed felt like a constant uphill battle. I lost interest in the things that made me happy. I lost interest in the things that made me feel alive. It felt as if my stomach was constantly in this tight knot that could only be slightly undone by drinking alcohol. I knew from the long line of alcoholism and substance abuse that runs in my family that I did not want to end up down that treacherous path. I decided to seek help. I went to ECAPS and my mental health improved.
I was really reluctant at first to attend ECAPS. It is kind of a meme at Emerson, and I had such a solid relationship with my therapist at home who I had been seeing for 10 years. I didn’t want to reiterate my entire life story (and there was certainly a lot to tell) to someone new. I didn’t feel like I could trust someone that way again.
There is a lot of talk around campus about how ECAPS is not that great. Before I went I heard they take forever to schedule, the counselors aren’t that helpful, referrals to outside therapists in the city are impossible, etc. This could not be any far from the truth in my experience. Yes, ECAPS is underfunded. But whose fault is that? The schools. With more money in the budget for mental health services we could have regular on campus counselors for students instead of temporary counselors that then refer students to outside therapists.
I called ECAPS and they scheduled me within the week. My triage counselor was so sweet and empathetic. I had a couple more appointments with her before I moved on to my permanent therapist in Boston. On my second appointment she had a list of names for me to chose from, gave me little bios for each of them, and helped me call each one because she knew how out of it I was. That day I had an appointment with my new therapist. It was that easy.
Adjusting to a new therapist was uncomfortable at first, but over time that knot within my stomach began to loosen. She helped me realize I needed the extra help that medication gives. She talked me through the transition and greatly aided my mental health. I would have never made the steps that significantly improved my quality of life if it weren’t for ECAPS.
Try It Out
So don’t believe all that you hear about ECAPS, or any of the services Emerson offers. Try it out for yourself. Especially if you are struggling with the first year blues. You are not alone and there are so many people that want to help you. Emerson is such a loving community. Let yourself be loved.