General Musings

Mental Health

And now, for something a little different. But this is a topic that I consider of the upmost importance.

A new study, which surveyed the mental health of U.S. College Students show 41% suffer from moderate to severe depression. Wait, what?

This is a staggering number, and it should alarm all of us — it should also lead us declaring a national health crises and doing more study to identify the root causes. We cannot accept this as an acceptable normal.

Sure we can have our theories. If you are reading this and of an older generation which stigmatized and shamed those who needed help with mental health care, I’d caution you to actually trust the medicine here. Perhaps more importantly, consider those in your own generation you have lost to mental illness — my Mom being one of them.

For the rest of us, realize there is probably no simple singular answer. It’s probably negativity. It’s probably social media. It’s probably our diets. It’s probably the ever worsening economic prospects for younger generation.

This issue hits me hard for a variety of reasons. I’ve had to take a lot of active steps to ensure my own mental health stays in tip top shape, but even those are insufficient many days. Addiction and mental illness run in my family — and depression and anxiety are running through my generation and the ones behind it. I feel trapped by genetics and circumstances some days, and its one of my worst fears that I ‘lose control’.

Just know that if you feel mentally unwell, you can seek help. You should be able to seek health easier, but I’m not going to dive into the politics of healthcare here. But do know there is hope, there are people who do care, and you will make it through this time.

As a trans person, I belong to a medical population that has very poor mental health outcomes. The stigma and discrimination we face can lead to very poor outcomes, with rates of suicide and attempts at suicide being way too high.

I’ve taken a lot of precautions to ensure that I keep my mental health in check, but it is an imperfect system and I definitely struggle with both anxiety and depression at times myself. The worst days are the ones where I simply ‘wake up wrong’ and there’s nothing that can happen that day to make it better. Those days are struggles and slogs to get through and survive. Sometimes I may disappear for days into myself. It’s a horrible place to be.

The worst thing is when someone simply tries to tell you to cheer up on a day this is happening — because if it were that easy I swould’ve done it quickly.

But it isn’t that easy.

As you would exercise and diet to keep your body in tip top shape, you should do work and diet to keep your mental well being healthy.

A balanced diet with whole foods always helps, taking long breaks from social media is good, spending time with people face to face in conversation is helpful, working with a therapist is essential, and taking time to work on yourself by doing things that bring you life is a must.

Even still, you are not guaranteed to succeed every day. I don’t. Hang in there. You’re doing just fine and things do get better.

See you all tomorrow.

I’m not perfect but neither are you. Hang in there. Keep going. Surprise yourself.

By Raychel Sanner

I'm a trans photographer and filmmaker based in New Mexico. I love adventure and travel and exploring my state. I chase down incredible storms and skies. I advocate for good mental health and for my trans siblings.

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