May, being Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to highlight some other sides of mental illness that aren’t just my own experiences. So I called on a good friend for some help. Meredith, an active member of marching band and color guard, had a mental health episode that flipped her perspective upside down.
Following a period of intense stress, Meredith, who had not experienced any prior mental health issues, suffered from a episode of amnesia causing her to forget events occurring within a two to three day period. Amnesia is a psychological condition referring to the loss of memories and experiences. I first asked Meredith to recall the events leading up to, and the aftermath of the episode.
“That day I woke up and it was a normal day. I had gotten to school and everything was fine.” Well that’s what she was told. Meredith has no recollection of the days in which she suffered from amnesia. She continued, “my mom was out of town and asked me how my day was going and I told her I couldn’t remember”. At the time, Meredith had been going through a period of extreme academic stress; however, due to never experiencing any form of mental illness, she didn’t conclude that anything was wrong wrong until the next day.
When once again, she failed to recall the events of the day, Meredith was rushed to the hospital by a family friend where she underwent a series of tests and questioning. “Many of the doctors thought that I was either on drugs or given a date rape drug.” However, after results from the tests came back, no clear cause could be determined. Ultimately, she was sent home diagnosed with stress induced amnesia.
Acknowledging that Meredith had no prior history of mental health issues, I assumed that she received quite a variety of reactions from her peers.
“People thought I was faking it to get out of schoolwork or to call attention to myself”.
Meredith even had a teacher say, “You still have to do your work. I don’t care if you have a fake mental illness.” After experiencing this kind of stereotyping and harsh assumptions from others, Meredith reflected on her own perspectives of other students suffering from similar issues. “It’s not a fake illness. Some people’s brains work differently. Just because your brain works one way doesn’t mean someone else’s works the same way.”
Following her experiences, Meredith wants to assert that high school definitely isn’t a walk in the park like people had told her. “I’m not a person that gets stressed easily in the first place and high school brought me to the point where my brain shut down. Don’t go off on other people’s words on how difficult something is. You have to experience it for yourself. People’s advice is great but it might not always work for you.”
Despite not having another amnesia episode since, to this day Meredith continues to try to recall events throughout the day to make sure she has not suffered from another episode. By managing her stress levels, she is able to prevent another situation; however she still recognizes that others are not as fortunate.
Let us remember to be kind and understanding to others regarding mental health, and make it a point to advocate for those who cannot. Thank you Meredith!
Until next post,