Kenndal s Story
Charleston, SC USA
"My journey with mental illness has been a long one to say the least and to this day I am still finding out new things about myself that help me in my journey. I dealt with depression at age 13 when I first moved from Ohio to South Carolina. I had terrible coping mechanisms at the time and it took me until junior year of high school to overcome my depression and be able to go about my day contently.
The change from high school to college was difficult for me. I transferred colleges twice and changed my major six times. I frequently dropped classes, changed the extracurricular activities I was in, and surrounded myself with different people month by month. I felt like I just could not find my place when everyone around me seemed to have it all together.
My junior year of college I started to develop terrible negative thinking patterns where I just thought I was not good enough and I was not cut out for school. My depression came back along with severe anxiety. There would be days where I would become physically sick from worry and would not want to leave my apartment. I lost friendships, my grades were horrible, I quit a lot of extracurricular activities I was involved in, and my long-term relationship suffered.
It wasn’t until a year later that I sought out help. I first went to my regular doctor and was prescribed an antidepressant. It did not work for me and I began to feel hopeless. I decided to start talking to a counselor, which helped tremendously. The counselor helped me develop coping mechanisms that worked for me and things started to improve.
I still felt off for months after that. I just could not shake what I was feeling completely. I talked to one of my best friend’s mom who is a counselor and she encouraged me to get tested for adult ADHD. This took me by surprise as no one has ever mentioned ADHD to me. The next week I got tested and I was diagnosed with ADHD combined. This means that I am inattentive and hyperactive in my daily life. The more research I did the more I realized that I have showed signs of ADHD for a long time, but I was not educated on the topic. ADHD can affect every aspect of a person’s life. And, looking back, I can see why I never felt like I was just suffering from depression and anxiety, as these illnesses are comorbid with ADHD.
The diagnosis is still new for me, but I am thankful for it. This is my last semester and I do wish I would have known earlier, but it shows that I could work my way through college regardless. I now have a better understanding of who I am and this experience has allowed me to accept me for me. I have created a structure that works for me and helps me remain focused, which in turn helps me not speak negatively to myself when I cannot complete something. With the help of my counselor, I can already see a difference in myself that I have never seen before and I hope to continue to make progress.
I think it is very important for college students to realize that although this is supposed to be the time of your life, it is also the time where mental illness can be most prevalent in your life. Make sure to take care of yourself and to get help when you need it. It is not a weakness to get help and it can impact your life for the better."
Photo by: Cheyenne Abrams, College of Charleston Campus Representative