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Thinking about what to write for my senior column has been quite the challenging feat for me this past week, but I’ve decided that I’m going to use this space as a message to those who may be struggling with any mental health issues right now. I understand it is almost finals week, which is an extremely mentally taxing time for all of us, so I want to use this moment to share my story as a reminder to everyone that it does get better.

During my second semester at BU, I went through a really large depressive and anxious time after a traumatizing event, which for my own sake, I will not discuss in its entirety because it is still triggering for me to write about. I was having panic attacks almost every day during which I couldn’t focus and felt like I was dying. I would leave my classes early due to the panic, then get mad at myself for acting like this and then cry until I was numb. I picked up cutting as a way to cope with my emotions until my boyfriend at the time, who is now my fiancé *squeal*, found out about it, got upset and made me go to the counseling center to help manage my mental health issues. At first I had felt worse that I had made him upset, but in his defense, it’s hard to not get upset when the person that you love no longer can love themselves.

I started counseling in March of that semester. We worked through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) every other week to sort out my thoughts and why I felt that way. Although I can look back at this experience and say that it helped, it wasn’t easy. Even while I was in counseling, I was still having thoughts that it would be better if I took my own life. I still had days where I felt worthless and hopeless, but people around me kept me holding on to life. Adam, my fiancé, would listen to my meltdowns at any time of the day. He did everything to try to help me through it, even when we were attending different schools. Overall, it took me about nine months, between talking with family and friends, as well as working through counseling, to completely forgive myself for what happened.

As difficult as that second semester was for me, I’m strangely happy that I went through it. I’ve learned so much about who I am during that time, what matters to me and it helped me understand others who have mental health issues. I work as an EMT now and whenever I care for a mental health patient, I feel like I can provide better psychological care because I understand them. I knew for a while that I wanted to go into health care, but I feel that these experiences that I’ve had have helped me relate to patients.

I had told a few people what I was going to write about for this column and one told me that they were worried that if I publish this column, it might hurt my chances for jobs later on. Friends, that is called stigma. And stigma is why I chose to publish this column anyway. We need to talk about these issues so those who are struggling feel comfortable seeking help. I’m writing this column for anyone on campus who may be struggling right now. If you aren’t already seeking help, please do. I can wholeheartedly say that it will get better. I know it may not feel like it is right now, especially with finals looming in the air, but it will. Be kind to yourselves, take care of yourselves and give it time.

We’ll see you tomorrow <3

I have so many people to thank for where I am today. I know I can’t list every single person who has had an impact on me here at Binghamton University, but know that I appreciate every one of you in my life.

Thank you to Al Vos for encouraging me to explore this area, to make it my home and to give back to this community when I first came to Binghamton. I wouldn’t have accomplished as much as I have in these four years if you hadn’t pushed me in my first year to get involved in Hinman and in Broome County. I’m very happy to have a friend in you.

Thank you to the Out of the Darkness Walk committee for being such great friends and making some miracles happen. I know how stressful planning the walk was, especially around March, but I can’t be more proud of what we were able to accomplish. We have broken our record from last year and saved lives. I am so happy to call you all friends and I will be back to walk next year.

Thank you to the members of the American Medical Women’s Association for making me feel like family and for helping me reach my full potential within the organization. It was wonderful to work with all of you these past four years and I am so thankful to have great e-boards to work with. To the new e-board: you guys are going to do fine and my phone is always on if you need anything.

Thank you to the Pipe Dream staff for making me feel welcome in this organization and for understanding that I can only adult for so long and being there for me when I break. I would like to give a special shout-out to Michael Contegni for seeing my potential and pulling me up from the delivery team to become a member of the business team. You are a true friend to me and I am going to miss you, but I am really happy that we are both graduating (no more deferring adulthood!). I would also like to give a special shout-out to Lizzy Standard, my incoming distribution manager, for her amazing work this year. I wish the best for you next year.

While this last group isn’t on campus, I’d like to give a final thank you to the members of Vestal Volunteer Emergency Squad. I was such a nervous wreck when I first joined, but you all have become a second family to me. Everyone there has taught me a lot and has given me some amazing memories that I will cherish forever (including being snowed in at the station for three days and helping Adam surprise me with his proposal). Words don’t summarize the feelings that I have for all of you, but you all have had such amazing impacts on me and I’ll be coming back down when I can.

Justine Seliger is a senior majoring in biology.