What CAPS In Action Means to Me

Having been on 8 different medications, several incorrect diagnoses, and hospitalization, I am now a student at the University of Michigan with bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and struggling to cope with her medications. My journey of battling mental illness is long, and the worst part is that it didn’t start until I reached my breaking point.

I started to notice signs of anxiety and depression at the age of 12. I didn’t actually start getting treated until I was 17. I complained about it to my parents for a bit, but they didn’t believe I had a mental illness. I was forced to think that there was something wrong with me, that I’m abnormal and a misfit in society – that my body wasn’t built for this world. Now, having gone through this process and witnessing other people like me, I’ve realized I am not the only one. I am not alone. There are so many people in this world that are struggling, just like me, to accept themselves and belong.

The current stigma on mental illness is like a chronic disease in our society. It subtly multiplies and gradually brings us down. This stigma not only allows us to misinterpret mental illness but also prevent us from receiving the proper education about it. The day I realized this was when I decided to break this stigma and help people just like me. CAPS in Action gave me that outlet.

CAPS in Action, or CIA, is a student organization that works with the University of Michigan’s Counseling and Psychological Services (more popularly known as CAPS) to work on ways to educate the student body about mental illness and, most importantly, how to get help. Through CIA, I was able to express my passion for mental health by collaborating on projects to help make students’ lives a little brighter every day. As a member of the CIA Projects Committee, my team and I are working on a project that would allow students to tell their personal experiences with mental health. Every story is unique and deserves to be heard, and we are hoping that this serves to inspire, advocate, and be an outlet for students.

In a way, CIA is a way of not only helping other students but also providing my voice. Working with equally passionate people, I get to freely express my ideas in an open and friendly environment. Each committee within CIA is like a family working to contribute to something greater in life. Mental health is such a severe issue that affects many students on campus without a majority of them even realizing it. Every student deserves to be helped and given the best possible support, because life deserves to be spent in joy, not misery. People shouldn’t need to be afraid to ask for help.

While mental health resources here at the University of Michigan may not guarantee a solution for every student’s needs, they certainly do provide a start in the right direction. Every student’s journey is different. Through CIA, I learned that no matter how long it took or the amount of tears I shed during the ride, my family was there to guide me and support me along the way.