JV explains how she was able to self-advocate for her own mental health after helping her closest friends deal with their own mental health issues.
OBOS Today: So, tell me a little bit about um maybe your mental health journey or how, where you are with your mental health right now?
JV: Um, right now I’m at a pretty good place. I think, just like everybody else, I did struggle with the pandemic. I’ve done most of my classes from home. So, being stuck at home after being in a dorm and with all my friends for the last three years has been very different. Um, I think starting like freshman year starting college, it was a very big transition from high school to college. I don’t think I took my mental health as seriously as I should. I let a lot of other people’s problems influence me and I think that that’s a general problem with women, in general. I think we have a hard time saying no and we always want to help everyone else. We don’t want anyone else going through what we went through. So, I think freshman year it took me a little bit more time to really realize I should be saying no, like I have things going on too. Just because everyone else has problems, doesn’t mean I have to be there always to solve them but now that I’m a senior, I definitely have gained a stronger voice in saying no.
OBOS Today: Can you name any specific instances, or could you give me specific examples maybe from your past experiences that maybe led you to advocating for yourself more?
JV: Mmhmm. So, I think the main one would be freshman year I had a friend, like it was someone who I was dating, who had pretty serious mental health issues – very depressed, wasn’t fitting in very well. I’m the complete opposition, like I’m a people person, like I was finding different friend groups very quickly. I had another friend from my hometown too who was at the school I was – she was relying on me as like her core friend, he was relying on me as his core friend, pretty much. Both of them were going through pretty like tough mental health issues because they weren’t finding friends, so they were pretty depressed, missing home. Um my ex-boyfriend who’s actually – I think he was on the verge of like losing it, so I really did advocate for him to go see somebody, didn’t listen (of course) was like, no it’s not that big of a deal. Of course, like I became their therapist. And of course, they were both friends with each other too, so it was a whole mess and it affected my grades because I was trying to be there for thee as much as possible because if they’re not going to a therapist, they need someone to be their outlet, so I obviously wasn’t going to run away. And so that definitely took a big mental hit on me because I was putting away my feelings, like it didn’t – I feel like it was kind of weird for me because it didn’t make me depressed, it just made me on edge 24/7 and so lie I was also like constantly like worrying am I doing enough? Am I empathetic enough? And I think – like I was talking before, it’s just such a big problem, especially with women and – of always doubting ourselves, are we going enough? Are we being the best person that we can be for other people where we don’t give ourselves enough time.
So, having those two people in my life freshman year – like I’m no longer friends with them. After freshman year I pretty much stopped being friends with them. After like – I broke up with them after like a month or two, but we still stayed friends-ish like after we broke up like second semester. It was still – it just took me a while to really be like you know what, I need my space. And like I was never that person like I’m – my friends usually stay my friends for life so it’s like – it’s very hard for me to be like I need space right now, like I can’t do this, so that was [pause] traumatic in the sense that like I didn’t know how much time it was taking out of my life 24/7 and I think of myself as a pretty strong person, like mentally but just because I wasn’t breaking down, just because I wasn’t crying or anything, I realize like looking back now like I wasn’t good, like I was just stressed 24/7, like I was just showing it so differently like I wasn’t – I’m not a crier like I wasn’t crying to my friends or anything, I was just constantly just stressed for these people and it was like, I need to put some time for me, you know? And from that like I definitely grew like I don’t like allow people to need me – not like allow people to need me like that, but once it gets to that point where it’s like you– I’m literally am such a big advocate like you should see a mental health professional immediately. If they say no, that’s okay but I create those boundaries where it’s like okay, it’s okay if you don’t want to go but I’m –- I need to let you know that I have boundaries too.