*Content Warning: This article talks about mental health, drugs, and substance abuse*
When I came to Kenyon as a first-year I had just started medication for anxiety. Not the biggest deal, I know, but at the time it was a lot for me to deal with. This is not an article trying to inform you about drug abuse. I’m going to estimate that a large percent of the student body is probably on some sort of medication right now, and that’s totally cool. We take medication for personal reasons, and we take them for recreational reasons. We’re not ashamed of doing drugs for fun. Drugs are cool. Doing a line of coke before a party is cool. Smoking weed with your friends is cool. Dropping acid at the BFEC to become one with nature is cool. It’s all cool with me. I am with it.
I never talked to my friends about my medication or why I was on it. I did not speak about my anxiety or how I was feeling. I watch people send Snapchats of their xans/bars/lowkey benzo abuse, I watch people text and whisper, “hey do u know who’s selling rn?” I do not see or hear people being open with their depression or anxiety. I do not see or hear people being open with their mental health.
During my sophomore year, a good friend of mine moved out in October and did not return. He’s doing well now, at a different school, in a different environment. The next semester, another good friend of mine stopped showing up to class, barely left his dorm, and was forced to leave during the spring semester. He’s taking time off. It is not abnormal or wrong or bad for students to take time off, and we should not look down upon those who take some time off for whatever reason.
I watched both of my friends fall into a dark place. They lost motivation, rarely left their rooms, fell behind in class, and retreated. It was a pattern, and they are not the only students who have left this school for similar reasons. This is not exclusive to Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. Our adolescence and early 20s is a time of maturation, change, and it is a part of our lives when mental health issues are most likely to arise. Because Kenyon is so small and we claim to know everyone, most of the student body will find out when someone leaves because of mental health reasons. Even if we weren’t friends with them, their departure is still impactful, and it’s wrong to watch this happen repeatedly and not talk about it.
As I previously said, this is not an article trying to inform you about drug abuse. It is an article that encourages you to be open with mental health. It encourages you to talk to your friends about your life, and it encourages you to never be ashamed of feeling like Kenyon sucks because sometimes it does and sometimes it will. If we can be open about getting super fucked up on our friends benzo prescription, we should be able to be open about the real reason for the said benzo prescription.