This is an entry in Spectrum’s ongoing My Mental Health Story series. By giving students a platform to share their stories, we hope to encourage more conversations about mental health on campus and to reduce the stigma of seeking help.
Sarah Lu, CC ’20, comes from an Asian-American household where she hardly ever discussed mental health with her parents. By the time she arrived on campus last fall, her body dysmorphia and vicious internal dialogue felt normal.
“I would think about how there were so many parts of my body that I could fix,” Lu said. “[I] scrutinized almost every part of my body … from my hair, to my nails, to my knees.”
And when it came to social media, images of her friends and celebrities would only exacerbate her feelings of “self-hate” and insecurity.
“I would compare [my body], scrolling on the explore page on Instagram or looking up profile pictures of my friends, wishing I could have their features and be like them,” she said.
It wasn’t until last summer that Lu accepted that her internal dialogue was unhealthy. At a summer internship off campus, she found a group of friends who were vocal about their self-image in a way that she had not been.
Those friends spoke differently about themselves than Lu did—something she noticed by speaking openly with them.
“What they were saying to themselves in no way matched my own fears, anxieties, and internal dialogue,” she observed. “I realized that [the way I saw myself] wasn’t normal.”
Lu still struggles today with body dysmorphia and anxiety, but she knows now that she is not “destined” to suffer from them indefinitely. Physical exercise, for example, has helped her realize that her body can go beyond being “an object for sex”—a profound step in building a healthier internal dialogue.
If you have a story about mental health that you’d like to share, we want to give you the platform to do so. Send a short email about your story to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get back to you about how to proceed.