Rishi: Welcome to the Alonesy blog. This post is part of the miniseries where we interview young adults suffering with mental health problems and have still managed to succeed in their respective careers. Today, we have a 3rd year undergraduate student majoring in Philosophy and Human, Biology, and Society and minoring in Food Studies. When not in the classroom, she is the President of a club aiming to eliminate food insecurity on campus and also holds two positions in student office.
Student: Thanks for the introduction and for having me on today.
Rishi: The pleasure is mine. Let’s start by telling the readers a little more about your experience with mental health.
Student: I have struggled with depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder for quite a number of years now. I only got diagnosed with depression and anxiety in 2018, but I’ve been battling these issues since I was 13 or 14. Also, my sister has borderline personality disorder.
Rishi: How have you been able to overcome these problems in your daily life?
Student: Therapy is a big one – I’ve been going to therapy intermittently since I was 18
Journaling helps me sometimes. Oh, taking care of things other than my myself, like my friends or my cats. Putting working into causes you feel passionately about and good intentions out into the world. Exercise is a really big one to take your mind off things. Contextualizing my life experiences in other perspectives. And medication, that’s an important one, I take 20 mg of Lexapro every day.
Rishi: I know this may be hard to talk about, but can you isolate one incident where you felt like you were in a dark place and how did you get out of it?
Student: When I was 18, I had a big relapse of my eating disorder, I struggled to eat more than a meal a day. But I was able to get out of it by going to therapy and rewarding myself for eating enough. As well as by reaching out to my friends, I don’t know what I’d do without them.
Rishi: What advice would you have to give to teenagers who find themselves in hard places now?
Student: If you’re going through something that is acutely painful, in the moment you’re going to think that it’s always going to feel that way: awful and hopeless. Whether or not you do anything about it is really up to you, but usually it gets better and doesn’t last. I would advise against actions that could put yourself at risk. Also, don’t expect yourself to be perfect and be patient with yourself. Small steps are really important, you don’t have to run a 10k and drink a green smoothie. Self-care can look like just eating something you like.
Rishi: You mentioned before that your sister suffers from borderline personality disorder (BPD), so how, if at all, do you treat her differently than someone without the disorder?
Student: 95% of the time I treat her just like I would treat any other person because before she’s a person with BPD, she’s my sister. So, you know, I would treat her like my sister. But I guess the difference would be when she’s having a really bad day or when she’s in a bad mood or when her condition is really affecting her on a certain day. Then I would kind of make sure that she knows that she’s loved, not just by implying it, but by explicitly telling her that she’s loved and has value. Also, even if she doesn’t want to talk, I let her know that I’m available to talk and that I’m there for.
Rishi: Well said, I agree, it’s important to remember that people suffering from mental illness are still people. Do you have any last bits of advice or words of wisdom to impart to students using the platform or anyone reading this post?
Student: The last piece of advice that I would give is that sometimes when you’re feeling awful, people want to isolate themselves and not talk to anyone. Maybe because they don’t want to or because they’ll impose a burden on someone. Don’t do this, it’s important to communicate with the people who care about you and let them know what’s going on because that’s the only way that they can help you.
Rishi: Thank you so much for sharing your story and I’m sure our readers will be taking back something from this interview. If you like this miniseries and would like to read more articles like this one, please be sure to comment below!
Blog Post by Rishi Kayathi