Over my last four years at Bowdoin, I have come to understand two consistently contradictory narratives that exist on our campus surrounding the issues of mental health and wellness. I’m sure everyone on this campus has heard statements such as, “our institution is not doing enough for our mental health or doesn’t care,” or its counterpart, “the institution has plenty of mental health resources and programming,” and we all hold our own ideas and opinions about how we feel about these statements.
Throughout my time at Bowdoin, there have been many moments when I faced immense challenges, stress and grief that have felt incredibly overwhelming. I know I am not alone in these thoughts and feelings. We have all gone through a lot in our time as students at Bowdoin and continue to struggle and hurt for many reasons, and in many ways, within this institution.
Content warning: This article contains descriptions of substance use disorder and violence. I remember staring at the ceiling of some waiting room of some hospital that I can’t remember the name of. I had spent the previous night riding with my uncle down from Cleveland, Ohio to Johnson City, Tennessee.
I think often of my walk back home from my bus stop after school when I was younger. I was often shaking in fear, with my eyes stinging with tears at the thought of what I might come home to—either an empty, quiet trailer to finish my homework, or an angry, drunken mother who would take her frustrations out on me and disrupt the rest of the evening.
Content warning: This article contains descriptions of child sexual abuse and of mental health difficulties following such experiences. Sometimes, when my mother was gone, her boyfriend would come into my room. He would always knock on my bedroom door the same way, a sound that still creeps into my thoughts from time to time to this day.
Content warning: This article contains descriptions of alcoholism, domestic violence and verbal abuse. I will never forget the thumping. I find myself on the ground, my head spinning so haphazardly that I can’t stand up. I lay on the floor of my kitchen and stare at the ceiling above me; it falls in and out of focus.