Here we go again. It’s March as the longest month of the year descends upon us to impact our mental psyches. For someone who has endured the harshness of March for the past two years, I must say it is hard to keep a level head. March is not a month where there is particular harmony and frivolity amongst campus. Week in and week out there is work, intense stress in athletic competitions and practices, and more of the same bleak weather. For those who do not know, March has been notorious in Bates history for several years as the hardest month of the school year because students don’t receive any holidays or breaks off. Despite the new change for the 2020-2021 academic year, where we only get three days off, March is still, by far the toughest month of them all. By why is March exactly so hard on Bates students? Why is March, for many, a day to day to struggle? In this article I want be able to dissect as well as analyze the reason for a messy March.
For a junior, March can be difficult in more ways than one. Personally, messy March didn’t exactly start in March, it started on February 24th. After February break, messy March starts as we begin a five-week period of a severe amount of work and high level of stress. Having no breaks for five weeks doesn’t seem painful, when you think about it at first, but after the first week is over you start to feel the effects: The lack of sleep. The physical and emotional fatigue. The anguish. It’s one negative emotion after another and it never seems to end. Last year for me, was a truly horrific March. I was at my lowest point emotionally and, truthfully, I suffered from depression. During that time I felt as though I had very few people to talk to about my feelings and I felt as though I didn’t have a lot of options in terms of finding a solution. For many of the days in March, I had to grapple with dramatic mood swings and my inability to have a positive attitude constantly. The amount of emotional pain I was suffering had a negative impact on my academics as well as personal relationships both at Bates and beyond.
This suffering was nothing that I had ever experienced before and I learned that it is best to talk about these feelings rather than repressing them. Similar to some of my closest friends at Bates, I was swamped with a lot of work and responsibility. For me, I was faced with the challenge of taking two 300 level courses, being a member of a varsity sports team, and participating in several student-led clubs on campus. For me, it was what I loved to do in middle and high school. I loved being able to be a part of so many different activities while meeting and interacting with different groups of people. Back then, despite all the school work that I had, it never seemed emotionally overwhelming or stressful. However, last year was an entirely different experience. Every day, I felt disoriented and unwell. It seemed as though the entire world around me was overshadowed by doubt and unhappiness. It was a tremendous strain on my overall mental health as I had to confront with powerful emotions and thoughts. This experience of suffering and dealing with these emotions was something very new and scary for me.
Mental health is an issue that has been on the minds of the Bates community for years. For both students and faculty, mental health is a topic of importance and sensitivity as it doesn’t just represent people’s personal emotions it can in fact represent a person’s identity. Over my time at Bates, I have found that, even in the darkest of times, I am able to talk to people who have dealt with similarly stressful situations. For me, last year, going to the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), was nerve-racking at first but proved to be beneficial. I never realized what an essential pillar CAPS was in the Bates community. Even though I believe that mental health services need more funding and more awareness on campus, it still makes a huge impact for people dealing with emotional stress. I feel as though speaking about issues such as mental health should be encouraged, especially at a school such as Bates where we emphasize inclusivity and friendship.