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One student’s discovery

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Chynna McKillion

It was my senior year. Everything was going great. My grades were good. I had an awesome boyfriend and a part-time job with a wonderful boss.
I should have been happy, but I wasn’t. I was sleeping excessively, I was constantly tired, pushing away my friends and ignoring things I once found enjoyable, and I just felt sad and empty all the time. Still, I pushed on, with the thought “Everyone feels like this at some point in their lives.”
The thing that snapped me out of it was that one day, I was driving my car, and suddenly I had the thought “Why don’t I just drive off this bridge and end it?” Whoa. Everyone certainly doesn’t think like that.
Free and confidential
The next day, I called the Student Counseling Center and made an appointment with Fran Scheel, a therapist I had seen briefly during a breakup my freshman year. We talked about my feelings, and she agreed that there were alarming tendencies.
“The Student Counseling Center offers free, confidential mental health counseling to students at Troy University,” said Scheel, who is also the coordinator of the Counseling Center.
“We also offer numerous outreach events throughout the year to raise awareness and educate the campus community about mental-health-related issues, sexual assault and domestic violence.”
We continued to meet every week for a month. After the month, Fran mentioned that she believed I had clinical depression and anxiety. She said we could continue to meet and talk through my problems, or I could think about going on an anti-depressant.
At first I was flabbergasted. I need crazy pills? No. Pills are for people who can’t deal with life on their own. After thinking about it some more, though, I became receptive to the idea. If it will help me feel better and make it through this year, I’ll try it.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, one in 10 American adults have reported being depressed, or having symptoms of clinical depression. In fact, also according to the CDC, Alabama, in 2008, was one of five U.S. states that had overly high levels of depression, at over 13 percent.
Clinical depression is an illness, one that, given the right medicine, can be controlled. A person with depression can’t simply snap out of it, or one day decide not to be depressed. You wouldn’t tell a person with strep throat to just stop being sick, right? No, that person needs antibiotics to get better. So the next thing on my list was an appointment at the Student Health Center.
Medication available
“Counselors may refer to the Student Health Center to consult with the doctor or nurse practitioner for medication to treat symptoms of depression and/or anxiety,” Scheel said.
“Also, in some cases, a referral may be necessary to determine if there is an underlying medical cause for symptoms.”
At the Student Health Center, I saw Beth Long, the university’s resident nurse practitioner. She sent me to get blood work done, to make sure I didn’t have any medical problems that could be causing my symptoms.
A 180-degree turn
My blood work came back negative, and under the consultation of Dr. Mickey DiChiara, the university’s physician consultant, she prescribed me an anti-depressant.
From there, my life made a 180. I was social again, I had plenty of energy, and the troublesome suicidal feelings were no more.  I continued to see Ms. Fran every week, and had periodic checkups with Ms. Beth to ensure my physical well-being.
The Student Counseling Center and the Student Health Center are among the many resources available to students at Troy University.  They are helpful and extremely capable at their jobs.
Four full-time counselors are employed at the Student Counseling Center. They are available by appointment unless it is a crisis, in which case you will be seen immediately. Counseling is confidential unless you are in immediate danger of harming yourself or others.
The Student Counseling Center is located 113 College Drive, across from Hillcrest House. The Student Health Center is in Hamil Hall.
Chynna McKillion is a multimedia journalism major from Bay Minette who was a senior in the spring.