A lot of kids at Yale are suffering from depression and anxiety. The environment breeds that: the idea that you can’t stop, that you must keep going, and there’s so much on everyone’s plate. It’s a lot to handle, and I think it throws off everyone’s brain chemistry. When you’re depressed, you don’t want to do anything because it’s too much effort. Everything is so exhausting when you’re hopeless and feel worthless. The idea of walking to Yale Health is like climbing Mount Everest. On top of that, when you’re anxious, the idea of dialing a phone number sets your heart racing, and then you really don’t want to do it. Entering spaces is really hard for me, like I’ve skipped meals because of the idea of entering the dining hall. So the idea of asking for help from a complete stranger… most of us aren’t used to asking for help. It’s really scary. So if you finally get the courage to do this, and you convince yourself that you can make that phone call despite the fact that you just want to cry all day, and then you don’t hear back for over two weeks, you think that they’ve forgotten about you. You feel uncared for, and there is no way that you’re going to try that again. You’re seeing evidence that it’s not working. There’s this horrible cycle where you feel worthless because you feel depressed, so you look into getting help but then you don’t get help, so you feel unworthy of it, so that makes you feel more worthless. It’s so hard to build that amount of energy to do that again. It’s inertia. If you get it going, maybe you can really get help.

The chance of reaching out in the first place is so rare. There’s this feeling that you’re taking resources from someone else. You don’t feel like you’re worthy of it even though you absolutely are. If the thought ever crosses your mind, then you deserve therapy. But all of us think, I’m not the worst off, so I’ll let someone else take those resources, because we all know that the chance of getting a response isn’t 100%.

A lot of people don’t tell their friends the full extent of their mental health. If you’re not reaching out for help until you’re at a desperate point when you’re thinking about harming yourself or worse, and then you don’t hear back for two weeks, what message does that send?

Graylen Chickering, she/her. 2021, Davenport