A Second Open Letter to College Students with Mental Disorders

Letter by Sydney Fairman
Photo Illustration by Anne Langan

Dear friend,

It’s been awhile since I checked in last – almost a whole year if we’re being specific.

There have been a lot of changes in my life since then, some fantastic and some not-so-good. While my GPA is continuously on the rise, I had to quit my job early in the school year because the anxiety I felt stemming from it was becoming unbearable. I recently joined a sorority full of incredible women that I adore, but I also lost my beloved internship due to my time commitments.

These may be champagne problems to you, but I’d be blatantly lying if I said it didn’t knock me off my feet for a little. I remember during the peak of this all in October, I sobbed to roommate in pure fear that I would return to the “dark place” I was in my freshmen year. Thankfully, I haven’t come close to doing so.

But the anxiety and depression I was diagnosed with two years prior doesn’t just disappear. I deal with it every day in the form of incessant pen chewing, foot tapping and feelings of dread. I still have to take medicine to tone it to a “socially acceptable” level, and I still have to be registered with the Office of Students with Disabilities in order to legitimize my diagnosis with my professors each semester.

That’s the reality of the stigma surrounding mental illness, and I live it every day along with millions of college students around the country.

But, every day, people are becoming more educated, sensitive and aware of the reality of mental illness. The discussion through social media has only accelerated the fight against the stigma, with many celebrities using their status as a platform for mental health awareness.

In layman’s terms, there is a light at the end of the tunnel no matter what. That applies to my case, yours and everyone else’s. No matter the situation or diagnosis, there is a way out other than the permanent removal of your life. That I can promise you.

This letter is relatively short compared to my first letter to you, so I’m sorry in that regard. However, I think this is also an achievement for me; I don’t have a lot to vent about because life has genuinely been good despite its meteoric ups and downs. I hope it has been similar for you too, friend.

As always though, it’s okay to not be okay. If you feel like this, please reach out to your friends, family, your professors or myself. There is always someone who cares for your wellbeing, even when you don’t. If you feel like no one does, I promise that I always will.

With the utmost love and well wishes,

Someone who understands

*If you or someone you know is in need of counseling or additional mental health services, contact information is listed below.

Counseling Services
CMU Counseling Center
Community Resources

24/7 Crisis Hotlines
National Suicide Prevention Hotline:
Listening Ear – Isabella County: 989-772-2918
SAPA: 989-774-CALL (2255)