Name: Mariana (or Mar for short)
School: I go to Queen’s University (In Kingston, Ontario)
Year: 4th year!
Major: I’m a Global Development major with a Political Science Minor
Fav thing about your campus: Cheesy as it sounds, but the community at Queen’s is my favorite part about my school. The people I have met here have impacted my life in more ways than one. People genuinely love this school. The campus is also beautiful and so full of life all the time—it’s hard not to love it.
Dream Job: My dream is to be social support worker. Nothing makes me happier than connecting and working with others!
What is your connection to mental illness?
Self reminder: My anxiety isn’t who I am. My name is Mar, I love to dance, sing, read, write, crochet, and be with my friends. I am caring, empathetic and kind. These are things that I am. My GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) is something that affects who I am. My anxiety isn’t who I am.
My entire life I have struggled with the idea of being perfect. A lot of my stress growing up surrounded the idea of not being good enough for people. I held myself (and still do) to sometimes-impossible standards. On top of that, I’ve always worried about things that are out of my control. Perfection and my tendency to worry have always been a part of my life, and to be honest, seemed quite normal until I came to University.
In my second year of University, something happened that finally proved to me that I wasn’t perfect. I was so embarrassed, and I couldn’t stop worrying about all the people I had let down. I felt so isolated and alone…even though I had so many people around me who cared.
I got diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (and Depression as a side effect of my anxiety) in second year. I wasn’t really ready for this diagnosis when I got it—and it took me a long time to accept that anxiety is something that affects who I am. My anxiety isn’t who I am.
I think mental health and illness are so important to talk about. I feel so blessed to have found Wear Your Label (in my second year of University lol) and to now be a Campus Representative for them. They were (and continue to be) a huge part of accepting my diagnosis and being at home in my own mind. They taught me that It’s okay to not be okay—and it really is. You are not your mental illness, it is a part of who you are and who you are is beautiful and enough.
How do you deal with stress from school?
School can be really hard sometimes—as a fourth year student, I totally empathize with the academic #struggz. When I’m having a hard time at school (due to academics or my personal life) I love to play my ukulele. Singing and writing have recently become a huge part of my self-care routine. I also love walking around Kingston and admiring how beautiful this city is—Kingston in the Fall is a magical place.
My absolute favorite thing to do is be with my friends. I have the most amazing and supportive friends that I am so grateful for. I don’t tell them often enough—but being around them always makes me feel better.
I think it is so important to take time to find a self-care routine that works for you. Take time for yourself for at least 30 minutes a day and be kind to yourself—you deserve it <3
What does your campus do to help students' mental health?
I am lucky enough to work for the Peer Support Centre at Queen’s. The Peer Support Centre is a peer-to-peer, drop in, non-judgmental, and confidential safe space where students can come in to talk about whatever may be on their minds. From mental health, to relationships to academics—the Peer Support Centre has got your back.
I went there in my second year seeking support—and the experience changed my entire life. Another student, someone I didn’t even know, was telling me it was okay to be sad and I deserved to feel better. They encouraged me to go see a counselor (someone I still see today and love), and it’s one of the reasons I have made so much progress.
Since then, I have been a volunteer and am also working there this year on the Management Team. It has been the most magical experience of my life. I have met some of my best friends through this service. It is a community of support and genuine empathy—where students care about how other students are feeling and want to help.
Do you have any school year self care tips to share with other students?
It is so important to identify people in your life who can be, what I call your “safe people”. Safe people are those friends who are willing to be your sounding board, those who can help you when you are struggling, and those who can hug you when you need it. Above all else, your safe people are people who make you feel comfortable and at home with yourself. Trust me when I say, that there are people around you who are willing and want to be those people for you. I know it can be really hard when you feel isolated, but please reach out if you need someone—whether that is a friend, counselor, family member, or even me through this blog post. I care about you!
Take time to figure out things that you LOVE to do and do them actively. It is SO okay to have wine with friends and chat about life and call that self care! Just like it is SO okay to cuddle in bed alone with a book and call that self-care. Self-care is personal and unique. Anything you love to do can count as self-care.
One of my most loved quotes by Tyler Knott Gregson is “I would imagine there are days when Superman wakes up, glances at his cape, and wonders when someone will come save him.” No one can be supportive all the time—and that’s okay. Take your breaks—everyone needs them.
The big message is--I care about you, and you are not alone. You are enough, you are more than enough, it is incredible how enough you are.
Thanks for wearing your label with me <3