Dear No One,
Your first time swimming in a pool, you were most likely wearing those awfully tight inflatable armbands. They felt like they were cutting off your blood circulation, but you wore them as they were meant to keep your head above water.
Your first time learning how to ride a bike, you were probably using those high-pitched squeaky training wheels which would alert the entire neighborhood of your arrival. They were noisy, but the training wheels were supposed to keep you from losing your balance.
Your first time using brand new roller skates, you were most definitely wearing a helmet with a ridiculously tight strap, which really hurt your chin. It compressed your skull, but the helmet was going to keep you from attaining any serious injuries.
Initially, we, or rather our concerned parents, used these tools to keep us safe when we were discovering the world around us. And yet, there are many moments in our life for which we aren’t given any such tools. Moving out of your childhood home, suffering your first heartbreak, dealing with the death of a loved one. You are rarely offered tools to cope with these motions in our journey to adulthood. Although we are usually given a rational explanation for these events, it is these new, raw, and complex emotions that come with it which we are left to manage on our own.
Your parents can tell you that you had to move to another town because the house was getting too small, but it won’t take away the ache you feel when you see your bedroom full of moving boxes.
Your ex could have given a perfect explanation of why they have decided to end your romantic involvement, but that won’t prevent you from hoping that it’s all a bad dream.
Your family can tell you why you will never be able to hear that relative’s voice again, but that won’t keep you from crying yourself to sleep that night when you remember its sound.
So what are the tools in a situation when you have to learn to deal with these heavy emotions for the first time?
The answer is simple: Opening up and having conversations with your friends about it. When it comes to undergoing these experiences, discuss your findings with your peers can lighten the load. It’s easy to talk to them, as they are learning how to cope with these emotions as well.
But what if you’re experiencing a different kind of sadness or angst? The kind that washes over you and hits you when you least expect it.
Avoiding going to class and handing in assignments, because you feel like your work is not nearly as good as your fellow students.
Going to every party and kissing every stranger you can find, because you hope it will make you feel whole again.
Staying in bed every morning, because you don’t see the point in waking up anymore.
It can be difficult to talk to your friends about these emotions. You could be afraid of their reaction. Even if you manage, talking to your friends about these new experiences might not be enough to help you through it.
Which tools can you use when all previous coping mechanisms prove to be insufficient?
Leiden University has a student psychologist available for students when extra support in mental health is needed.
Students often find it embarrassing to make use of these facilities. They’re worried that relying on these resources make them look incapable and weak. It is a common misconception that therapy is only used by people who are suffering from severe mental illnesses.
However, this portrayal and these rumors about going to therapy are far from the truth. Going to a student psychologist is not a sign of you losing control of your life, it’s a sign of you attempting to regain it. Therapy could serve you as the armbands, training wheels, and helmets when navigating these complex emotions. It can offer you support in times of need, help you find balance in your life, and provide you with healthy techniques to prevent things from getting out of hand.
As the semester has only just begun, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you of all of these facilities. In case you find yourself getting lost in the rush of uni life and you don’t know how to stop it, just remember: There’s no shame in getting the help you need.
P.S. You can go to the webpage of the student psychologist by clicking here or using the link below.