“… but we will always find a way of getting new perspective and exploring different solutions and ways on how to solve problems…”

I have always struggled with sharing my own personal struggles and venting, and it took me quite some time to accept that it was important to do so. I would normally vent about smaller issues and the bigger ones didn’t seem too problematic then. As I got older, life and challenges started getting in the way: stressful academics, friendship drama, health issues within my closest family circle, becoming an adult, romantic relationships and the pressure of finding a new job soon had an impact on me.
Anxiety and negative thoughts became constant, and the stress of working on my master’s thesis, getting used to a new routine and feeling uncertain about my career choices, left me feeling stressed and everything affected me, no matter how strong I seemed to look on the outside.
When my mother was in hospital, I felt quite overwhelmed with life, and that led me to contacting the Students and Graduates Support Office. Thankfully, people who were closest to me were supportive and advised me to book an appointment with a psychologist, and even though I felt slightly ashamed, I still decided to go ahead. The truth is that this first small step proved to have had a massive impact in my life. A year after those initial appointments, I went back to having regular sessions with my counsellor and the support and help have been very positive. These sessions help me organising my thoughts, accepting that I no longer feel the need to know everything I want for my life immediately, and that I shouldn’t be too hard on myself. Furthermore, that whatever I go through and I am feeling at the time is valid and that there was no reason to ever feel ashamed when I felt low or anxious. Step by step, it felt like the unresolved feeling in my head could be fixed with the right help and resources.
Some days, and especially considering the situating we are now living in 2020, I still struggle. Sometimes, I feel like I´m back where I started: I feel fearful, anxious and filled with negative feelings. I do, however, try to find ways of stopping myself from dwelling and to actually look back and be proud of how far I’ve come. I know now that I should value the good days over the bad ones, and that I should keep thinking positive.
I believe I have asked for help in the right moment, and that there is always a way of recovering and feeling better about myself. Putting the work and making the effort to get better is always worth it, even when we do not see it. Looking after our mental health is just as important as going to a general practitioner, and it should be done just as regularly and especially when we feel low.
Whichever stigma I had before I started this process stayed in the past, and I can only hope to contribute to eliminate completely these wrong ideas in other people. Challenges and issues in life will never go completely away and things may not get easier, but we will always find a way of getting new perspective and exploring different solutions and ways on how to solve problems, whether or not they are self-created.

FCT-UNL Master’s in Biochemistry Student, may 2020


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