Be your own sunshine this season

By Ellen Barczak, Columnist

There seems to be a shortage of serotonin on college campuses these days. According to the American Psychological Association, 41.6 percent of college students suffer from anxiety and 36.4 percent suffer from depression.

Have you ever been depressed before? Have you experienced debilitating anxiety? Have you known anybody who has suffered from some sort of mental illness? I have.

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Life is tough. College is tough, too, as it’s the place where you try to navigate your way through the beginnings of real life. Add to daily life the stress of finals, garbage weather and the sometimes difficult holiday season, and you have a deadly cocktail for the blues.

The holidays, though generally viewed as positive, can sometimes highlight the lack of fulfilling relationships in your life, whether they be familial or otherwise. They’re a litmus test for whether you’ll die alone or not, right?

Finals, obviously, starkly determine your grades, and, as logic follows, your ability to graduate, get a job, support a family and be happy. They determine whether you’ll be successful in life or not, right?

The weather is, well, awful. The sun has shunned society. Maybe it’s visiting some other star friends but as far as we know, it’s M.I.A. There will never be a sunny, beautiful day again, right?

Wrong! So wrong. I am so excited to tell you exactly how wrong you are.

You deserve love, and you will find it. Your grades do not determine your worth. And there is always, always another sunny day in the future, no matter how endless the winter seems.

This time of year it’s easy to give in to your internal pit of despair (it’s so warm and dark and welcoming, after all). What’s much more difficult, yet much more rewarding and healthy, is to make yourself a little ray of sunshine when one can’t seem to break through the winter grayness.

Let’s gain some perspective on all this: we live on a tiny planet, in a tiny solar system, with a tiny star, in a tiny galaxy among trillions of other much larger galaxies.

Your finals will not determine the outcome of your life. And the sun will eventually return from it’s vacation.

You can make your own sunshine, be your own source of light when everything around you seems dark and pointless.

Do you have any habits that help you create your own light? I like to hang around St. John’s Catholic Newman Center, personally. It keeps me grounded even when it’s hard to see the ground.

I can’t tell you what is best for you, only you know that. I can tell you, however, that you can do this. You are stronger and more capable than you even know. If you decide to buckle down and get through this trying time, you will come out the other end better than ever.

If all else fails, watch an episode or two of “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood” or “Chill with Bob Ross.” They think you’re special, and I do, too.

Let’s get this bread, Illini.

Ellen is a sophomore in LAS.

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