I’m a university graduate from the United Kingdom with a job in consultancy. From being the Vice President of my university Debating Union, working as an English Teaching Assistant, to volunteering on campus, I have made so many memories in the past three years. And the most unforgettable one is, in fact, finding out about my depression and anxiety in my freshman year.
How did it start?
It started with the immense self-expectation to excel in the first year. Being born and raised in a traditional Chinese family, my academic success is almost the definition of my own character. Years of studying in a competitive academic environment and parental expectations have trained me to become my own worst critic. I prepared for all my lectures and tutorials two weeks in advance. I saw “B” grade as an equivalent of “fail”. I spent every day at the library. Simply put, my endless pursuit of a perfect GPA and my perfectionism have led me to the path of mental illness.
How did you feel?
I felt shocked and even more depressed after the diagnosis. “I am living with depression.” “I have anxiety disorder.” These were the thoughts that I was ashamed to admit three years ago when I was a freshman. Back then, not only was I absolutely clueless about mental health, I also lived in a constant denial of my diagnosis, perceiving that as a sign of my weakness.
It was difficult enough for me to manage my studies and daily routines under the plague of depression, let alone accepting it as a part of my psyche. I almost dropped out of university that year.
How do you feel now?
I still feel shocked not least because of how much my perspective and mindset have changed. Yes, my diagnosis has not changed but what has changed is my approach to live with my condition.
Throughout my two years of counseling, medication, and mindfulness practices, I have understood that having depression does not and should not strip away my rights to be happy. I allow myself the liberty to make mistake. I reflect upon my action rather than criticizing myself. And most importantly, I embrace my depression and anxiety but I do not see them as my limitations.
It is particularly for this reason I am on board with Young Scholar to promote mental health awareness by taking part in Project Noise.
Why do you join Young Scholar?
The reason is simple: to create opportunities for young people that I wish I had when I was younger.
Young Scholar has been devoted to helping students to plan and to prepare for their academic prospects, ranging from scholarships applications to studying tips. As someone who has had a lack of application guidance and academic advice during my school years, I completely understand the importance of such pointers in successfully landing a bursary, a scholarship, or even a university offer! Therefore, Young Scholar becomes the perfect platform for me to share my tips on creating an outstanding application, as well as making the most of your studies, especially through the upcoming Project Noise campaign.
While Young Scholar helps to create academic opportunities for students, Project Noise helps to bring in a new perspective for young students that are prone to mental illnesses. By being able to share my personal experience and advice on mental health issues as a recent graduate, Project Noise removes the stigma against mental illness as a taboo subject and builds a bridge between younger and older students in openly discussing such intimate and nuanced topic.
Without the help from my university, friends, and family, I would not have such a smooth recovery while succeeding in my academics. I hope to provide the same level of help and channel such positivity to other fellow students by actively engaging in Project Noise.
If I have to sum up my experience from three years ago to now, it would be like going from a rock bottom to climbing up a mountaintop. It is a treacherous journey but the scenery is worth the effort. And the best is yet to come.