By: Meghan Light
Since I started university, the month of November has always been a bad time for me. I love school so, so, sooo much, but this month always gets its hold on me in the worst way. The whole month of November seems completely dedicated to due dates, final essays, and projects, leaving me with no time to relax, make money to survive, or even sleep. This particular November wasn’t an exception at all.
I had an online class that I wasn’t particularly dedicated to, but I still thought I would do well. Considering that I’m a third-year student and it was a first-year class, I could get an easy A, right? Wrong. The quizzes always seemed to blindside me. I found myself sifting through articles and readings to find the answers to obscure questions that were, even if you had analyzed the readings for hours, close to impossible to answer. When I emailed my TA, she told me that “lots of other students have had this problem,” and that she would vouch for me and run it by her supervisor. Honestly that didn’t make me feel a whole lot better; I knew this didn’t really mean the course would get better. It just made me feel like a useless robot, moving through the motions of university like everyone else in the class is, and wasting my time.
After failing yet another quiz, I emailed her frantically and frustratedly. I completely freaked out and scared myself to death, thinking of endless scenarios in which I could fail the class, be put on academic probation . . . The funny thing is, I’ve never had a bad GPA. I usually sit comfortably somewhere between a 3.25 and a 3.5, never really rising above or beneath it. For what rational reason was I freaking out about a couple failed quizzes?
To be honest, most of the time when I get really upset about things, later on I can’t even remember why. I wonder, “Why was I crying yesterday?” and can’t come up with an answer. Those who are closest to me know that I worry about irrational things. I always have this idea in the back of my head that I could drop dead any second, that I have cancer because my knee hurts, that the headache I’m having is actually the beginnings of a stroke . . . But not until November had these doubts hit my academic life.
One night, I fought with my girlfriend and, with every other frustrating thing going on, I hit a breaking point. I shut myself in my room and opened a website whose goal was to give therapy to people too shy, too busy, and otherwise unable to meet someone in person. I decided that I needed a therapist and, like the genius I am, entered my credit card information to access a free trial that lasted just three days.
For the record, the therapist I was assigned to was never available to talk to me and would message me at the worst possible times with questions that made me feel like I was being talked down to. She made me feel stupid, like she thought that I was unable to differentiate between what made me sad, angry, or happy. In three days, I probably wrote my therapist 500 words. She maybe wrote me 20. While I didn’t expect to receive the same level of service online as I would if I went to a real therapy session in person, but I thought it would still be somewhat helpful.
Remember how I said that November was the busiest month? With everything else going on, I went more than three days before realizing that I had to cancel the trial, even if I had only intended to, and actually used the site, for three days. So after using this poor service for three days, I found out that I was out $150.
So, as it would happen, this made me feel worse about the situation. I was down $150 that I couldn’t pay, with no refund on the horizon.
But then it got me thinking: why would a therapy service take advantage of people’s most vulnerable moments and then rob them of money for a service they didn’t get their money’s worth from? Their business model relied on attracting the attention of people in need and making money off of them in times of crisis.
I know it sounds dumb and obvious, but putting a price tag on my health minimized my problems to a monetary value of $150. In the bigger picture: insignificant.
Since then, I can’t say that my problems have been solved by any means. But to be honest, I look back on this and laugh now. For some reason it makes me feel silly and happy.
While my actions were proactive and I really did need to help myself, I could have thought a little more critically. A lot of people struggle with stress and anxiety management, but it’s important to know that there are organizations and websites out there designed to prey on people who are having a genuinely tough time. Yes, it’s shady. Yes, they can fight me with their three-day trials. But, it’s totally possible to realize that you need help and get it for yourself in other ways.
In a way, I think my slip-up actually turned out to help me realize a lot. I don’t want to disassociate myself from my problems; I want to own them and work on them myself. While my experience can’t speak for everyone who struggles with mental health, I hope it helps to see that the little mistakes you make can actually turn out to be something to look back on and smile about. So, shout out to that website for lowkey robbing me.
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