Small acts of courage. So small, that they're unnoticed. The strength to walk out of solidarity. The resolve to choose to accept yourself, flaws and all. In B-School, it doesn't take much to get pulled in different directions. There's nameless darkness that befalls a lot more of us than we are willing to admit. But when we do see it clearly, we know that it's really not about where we are driving, but how.
"Even the darkest night will end, and the sun will rise." Victor Hugo
When I did make a decision to book an appointment with the on-campus counsellor, it wasn't for the reasons most people would assume. I decided to give it a shot because I had suddenly become an insomniac post my placement in December 2019. I had a very different expectation regarding my placement, compared to what actually took place. I felt a certain sense of suffocation as I thought back to why I deserved better than what I got. I started withdrawing from my family, (who were used to me updating them on a regular basis), because I couldn't bring myself to repeatedly talk about why I was very upset. My diet had declined too, as I tended to catch up on sleep in the day. I believed that I had rationalised my situation by knowing that I could have been in a worse situation, but it felt like covering up a fracture with stick-on bandaid.
I casually mentioned to a friend that I thought I should visit the counsellor. He said it was no big deal, that I should go ahead, given he had spoken to her as well. Somewhere, it would bother me that I was seeking help from someone who did not know me personally, was paid to help me, and had to accomplish it in an hour. But when I finally sat through the session, I realised three things.
First, that I did have anxiety issues, but breathing exercises could help me and no medication was required. Second, that my emotions did not agree with the hierarchy of my problems that my brain had decided. Eg: my brain thought placements > my family worries > quarrels with my friends. Turned out to be the reverse. Third, that I preferred taking control of my mental wellbeing, for which I had to make a list of anything that was bothering me on a continuous basis. That would help me find resolutions (even if they were temporary) to resolve these internal conflicts.
As time went by, with the help of a lot of well-wishers, the sense of feeling lost drastically reduced. A lot of our batchmates started admitting that they too went to see the counsellor. Most of the time it was with regard to anxiety and rarely was it full-fledged depression. In my opinion, it highlights that we now recognise when we need help, and we have the maturity to look out for those of us who admitted to having issues. Sometimes, it just takes non-judgemental listening, and simple encouragement when someone seems to have a bad day. Sharing experiences is a manner of treating the whole experience normally, like you would see a doctor after you've upset your stomach.
Sustaining the advice you receive is the final and most difficult hurdle of them all. Because memory is short-lived, but emotions are not. The issues might relapse when we forget that, and it helped me to maintain a journal to document what I was feeling. It's also important to remember that you can't keep going back in the past to feel guilty/ a negative emotion about anything that might have happened in the past. As much as possible, try to think of a single happy memory before going to bed. We just have one life, and each day is precious.