When the last slice of pizza had disappeared, the 30 students at the NAMI on Campus meeting quieted and turned their attention to their vice president, psychology junior Alexis McDonald. The agenda for this meeting in October 2018 included a talk about depressive disorders, followed by a National Alliance on Mental Illness tradition: McDonald would share her own story.
“In high school, I experienced a lot of depression and anxiety, but I had never seen a therapist or had a diagnosis,” she began. “I thought things would improve in college, but my freshman year was the most lonely, isolating experience of my life. I was so anxious I couldn’t go into social spaces and introduce myself. When I walked around, I felt no connection to anyone.”
Her sophomore year, McDonald dove into campus activities until she became overwhelmed by depression and stopped going to class. Eventually she reached out to the Counseling and Mental Health Center at UT and connected with a therapist who helped her begin to manage her condition. The path to recovery wasn’t linear, she emphasized, but with her counselor’s support, she was doing better and even had told her parents about her depression.