Name: Samantha McDaniel @sammyraee_
School: University of Cincinnati
Major: Secondary Education (English Language Arts)
Favorite Thing About Your Campus: Everyone here has a passion for their city and school and wants to make positive changes in themselves and their environment.
Dream Job: A high school English teacher/author that has the chance to change lives for the better.
What is your connection with mental illness?
My official diagnosis is General Anxiety Disorder. However, it was just recently that I formally went to the doctor to receive a diagnosis. I have struggled with mental illness from about age 10 to now. When I was younger I was faced with depression, a demon that I have come a long way from. Depression followed me closely through my high school years. I saw therapists for a brief period of time, but unfortunately, I did not stick with it as long as I should have. My saving grace was a supportive family, who I knew loved me so much. And the book Looking for Alaska by John Green. I honestly believe that this book saved my life. I have conquered my depression through many years of trials and lessons, but I know my worth now and that I am strong enough to beat my mental illnesses because it is OKAY not to be okay and to talk about these issues.
My anxiety is still an ongoing problem and probably will be for the rest of my life. But, ever since I started to get help I have been able to control my anxious behaviors a lot better. My quality of life has consequently gotten so much better, and I have found that I can use this awful illness for something positive: I can talk about my experiences with others and remind them that it is okay to talk things out and break down if they need to.
How do you deal with stress from school?
School stresses me out like it is no tomorrow. I am the opposite of a procrastinator, but this is not always a good thing. I often highly stress out about things before I need to and I tend to overwork myself. To better handle this stress, I keep a planner and I check off things that I finish. I look at my planner daily to remind myself when things are due. However, I also remind myself that not everything needs to get done right away. Recently, I have gotten so much better about taking time for myself and realizing, working out, writing, or reading to calm myself down and decompress. This helps immensely with my school stress, and stuff still gets done on time.
What does your campus do to help with students' mental health?
I currently attend a branch campus of my university that values mental health highly. Each student receives seven free visits a semester to the school psychologist. I have used these services and it has helped immensely. However, at the main campus these services are not free. This is something that I, and many others, hope to change.
Do you have any school year self-care tips to share with other students?
If you are anything like me, school is a scary and stressful "monster" at times. However, you CAN do this!!! The best advice that I can give is to do your best, while still, ultimately, putting yourself and YOUR mental health first. Working, going to school, doing homework, and being involved can be A LOT. However, with good time management it is possible. But, it is not possible without you, so within all of the craziness find the time each day to BREATHE, LOVE, and CARE for YOURSELF. Even if this means putting homework or work aside for a second; it is worth it and so important. <3
What are you most looking forward to this semester?
I recently joined Phi Mu, so I am looking forward to being initiated and sharing WYL and self-love tips with my sisters. I am also looking forward to getting closer to graduation and becoming a teacher. Likewise, I am so excited to be working with Wear Your Label and writing more and more on my personal blog as well to work towards ending the mental health stigma.
photo credits: Emily Rasmussen