Name: Meagan Anderson
School: Whitman College
Major: Psychology Major with a minor in Film and Media Studies
Fav thing about your campus: I love what a small school Whitman College is. It has made it easier for me to meet people and form a strong support system.
Dream Job: Therapist, boutique owner, or wedding planner… kind of undecided currently
What is your connection to mental illness?
I feel that I have connected to mental illness in many ways throughout my life. I have been an ally, a support system, a sufferer, and an awareness advocate. I have many friends and family members who have been diagnosed with one form or another of mental illness. Yet when I began to struggle with my own mental health it took me a long time to come to terms with it. My mental illness hit an all time low when I went to college. I was away from my support system and on my own for the first time in my life. I began suffering from anxiety, depression, and disordered eating habits. I was high functioning so no one really seemed to notice… and I didn't want them to. I was, and still am in many ways, a perfectionist. I wanted everyone, my parents, boyfriend, friends, and professors, to think that I was not just doing well but excelling in college. I was worried that if they knew what was going on in my life their perceptions of me would change for the worse. It took a while but I learned that this was so far from the truth. When I finally decided to take the steps to get better I could not have felt more supported. With the help of my college and family, I made the arrangements to take a leave of absence from Whitman. I took a semester off to focus on my mental health. I went to a therapist, got on medication, spent time with my support system, and learned what it means to take care of myself. When I finally returned to Whitman I was ready to make changes for myself as well as help my campus become a better space for people struggling with their mental health.
How do you deal with stress from school?
When school is getting too stressful for me I fall back on my support system. I usually watch an old favorite movie or TV show (like Pushing Daisies) with my boyfriend Nelson, call my parents or make a fun meal with close friends.
What does your school do to help students' mental health?
Whitman tries to promote self-care through posters and RA's. We also have a counseling center that is free to Whitman students. It provides one on one appointments as well as group therapy.
Do you have any school year self-care tips to share with other students?
* Have a designated time each day that you take a little break for yourself. This can be to watch a favorite show (my current fav is Hart of Dixie), drink some tea (if you need any suggestions check out David's Tea), and do yoga, really anything that brings you a little relief from college life.
* Call someone from home (mom, friends, or significant others): Sometimes getting your mind off campus can be really relaxing.
* Take a fun class that helps you distress throughout the week. Whitman has classes that are called SSRA courses. They range from Skiing to badminton. They are a fun way to get credits without having to stress about homework and exams.
* Find a place on campus that reminds you of home. Having a favorite spot on campus can be really comforting.