Every day is not the same.
Some days I wake up and all is well; others I cannot will myself to put a leg over the side and make any attempt to get out of bed.
Some days I can be in class for five hours and do work for another eight; others I can barely stand fifty minutes of class and have a nervous breakdown just thinking about getting my notebook out of my bag.
Some days I am Duke; other days I am not.

I have found my time at college to be incredibly challenging - exams, literature reviews, problem sets, oh my. But if it were only academics, I wouldn’t have as big of an issue. If I didn’t have to work 15 hours per week, I would be able to take everything at a reasonable pace. If I didn’t dedicate 2-3 hours per week to seeking mental help, maybe I would have the capacity to be Duke every day.

But I don’t have any of those luxuries.

At Duke, I have struggled to take care of myself and to excel academically. My mental health is in a dire need of saving, but I don’t have the time with work and classes. I’m not talking about basic stress. I’m talking about anxiety to the point where I blacked out in the floor of a classroom before I had to go to work on a Friday night. I’m talking about some nights having to leave the library after being there for only 5 minutes because the stress of being me is so much that I cannot fathom doing work. Some days I cannot even eat.

I make sacrifices every day. I go to work, I do my homework, I go to therapy, I go to the gym- I do my best with what I have to take care of myself, to do what is best for me. But at what cost? At the cost of feeling alone. At the cost of friends, at the cost of calling my family, at the cost of social interaction. I feel isolated most of the time due to my mental illness and due to Duke’s exacerbating of the issue.

Aside from the social aspect of college, Duke claims to be understanding of mental health issues, but to what extent? I have yet to feel that I can use mental health as a reason as to needing an extension on a paper; I have gotten turned down twice for having received a prompt a week before the due date and needing an extension two days before the deadline due to “mental illness” is “unacceptable.”

I am tired of being “unacceptable,” of being some sort of Other. I do have issues with depression, with anxiety, among other disorders, but I am giving it my all to overcome them. Yet, Duke is giving me little and harming me quite a bit.

Duke, please, allow me to heal. Allow me to take care of myself. Allow my efforts to not be for nought. Allow me to receive some sort of understanding for once. Understand that managing my past, managing the overcoming of my issues, and managing school work is a challenge. Understand that sometimes I just need a pause. Understand that not being “okay” is okay.