One of the first things that I did at the start of this year when I got some time to myself was to write. To write about all the things that I deem important that happened over the course of last year. The thing about a new year is that it makes you reflect on everything that happened, big or seemingly insignificant, good or unpleasant, happiness or chaos.
It was around this time last year that I was preparing for and writing my exam for quarter two, just as all the first year master students are doing at the moment. I live in a street which is two streets away from all the rich people in town, but mine has all the students and immigrants. The kids like to play football or with fireworks. I sat at my desk staring at the notes wondering if I were strong enough to do this, smart enough to best these exams, hands shaking and a fair bit of hopelessness creeping in. And suddenly something snapped. A firecracker went off and the sound took me by surprise. Something in me just let loose and I broke down in tears that evening.
That’s when I realised I had all this stress and anxiety built up inside of me and I needed to get some help. The first step to good mental health is to admit any issues to yourself and then to others. A lot of people go through this, but unwittingly they try to deal with it alone. Making it known to one’s nearest and dearest might seem daunting at first but talking about it brings you closer to avenues that provide help. A lot has been said about mental health recently, but there are still communities that like to keep it hush-hush. Proper awareness feeds appropriate representation and vice versa. Awareness of mental health issues creates a positive loop. It feeds positive outlooks which lead to opportunities for support that circle back to awareness and so the cycle continues.
Last year was a year of important lessons
It took me a while, but I eventually reached out to my academic counsellor and was able to get back on track with some help and effort on my part. While I’m not one to look back too much, it is important just to see how far you’ve come. Last year was a year of important lessons. And I am in a much better place now, mentally and emotionally.
Two thousand and nineteen is going to be a good year. If you’re a second-year master’s student like me, you know that life is going to look very different towards the end of this year. I know that I will have graduated and probably (hopefully) have a job in some new place, with a whole new life awaiting me. So here’s wishing you a very happy new year.
Padmini Manivannan is a Masters student studying Signals and Systems at TU Delft and hails from Chennai, India. She loves doodling in her free time.