Screaming on the inside

Ain’t no shame in the therapy game

Madeline Fuerstenberg

More stories from Madeline Fuerstenberg

November 2, 2020

Hello, and welcome to my weekly therapeutic outlet.

Here at The Spectator, we like to encourage most of our editorial board members to write their own weekly columns. 

As I debated over potential topics for a column of my own, I couldn’t overlook the thought that I am simply too stressed and overwhelmed to worry about a weekly column on top of school, my two jobs and my position as editor-in-chief of The Spectator.

But dwelling on that sensation of panicked drowning will get me nowhere. I have a responsibility, here, to write. So, write I shall. 

Stress is a relatively universal concept — especially among college students. If you’re not feeling stressed in college, then you’re probably not trying. Between classes, jobs, familial obligations, sports, campus organizations, mental and physical health, financial concerns and a myriad of other issues, it can be hard to feel stable or secure in life.

I certainly don’t feel stable or secure. 

Over the summer, I worked as a reporter for the Chippewa Valley Post and as a daycare assistant at emBARK Dog Daycare. For three weeks in July, I reported on multidisciplinary Holocaust research in Lithuania. I also spent hours interviewing The Spectator staff and preparing for the upcoming semester. 

By August, it all felt like too much and I knew it could only get worse once school began. That dreaded tuition bill reminded me just how much I need those two jobs. 

I felt the stress begin to eat me alive. I became disconnected from myself and from the people around me. It doesn’t help that I have clinically diagnosed depression and anxiety to boot. 

I was shutting down, so I knew something needed to change before I really began tuning out the whole world. 

I don’t have the time or money for therapy, no matter how much I’ve always wanted to try it. Thankfully, our lovely university offers a similar alternative: Counseling Services.

It’s not therapy; it’s an outlet for talking about your issues and seeking out guidance in difficult times. I’ve only been to a few sessions, but I’m hopeful it will eventually help me manage my stress and maintain mental wellness. Plus, it feels really good to complain to someone who is being paid to listen — paid by the university, not out of my own pocket.

I used to be ashamed of my anxiety and depression. I thought they were indicators that something was broken inside of me. I didn’t want to go on the medications or talk about it with anyone. But I quickly learned I just wouldn’t get better without some extra help.

The medication, which I have been on since the age of 17, did wonders for me. I still have off days, but I am generally happier and more relaxed. But, like I said, stress is unavoidable and there is no miracle cure for mental illness.

I’m optimistic that counseling will be a centering, clarifying process for me. With so much going on in my life, I often find myself struggling with prioritization and I tend to convince myself that everything will go wrong.

So I suppose this is the overall message: Don’t be afraid to seek help. You’re going to be stressed — that’s a given— but how you handle your stress will really define your experience in college and as an adult. 

During my first session, the woman whom I met with asked me what I do to organize my thoughts. I told her I write. So that’s what I’m going to do for this column. I’m going to organize my thoughts about mental health and work and school — and I hope putting these thoughts out there might help others find some clarity, as well.

I’m screaming on the inside, folks, and you’re all about to get a free access to the Terror Dome (my mind).

Fuerstenberg can be reached at [email protected].