When I was first trying to get help, the campus medical centre asked me if I was “urgent.” I said no – I don’t know anyone who would be strong enough to say yes when in the middle of a mental crisis. But it was urgent, it was important. There are many markers of depression centred around impairment – that model doesn’t work for everyone (especially high-functioning people), I think. You could call it resilience, you could call it strength – I call it denial. I call it an immovable obstacle to getting help. How you present yourself to your classmates can be completely separate from how you feel when you are alone. Whether it “looks” urgent, whether it “looks” real, should not be decided by anyone except you. In your room at night, in your head before you sleep and when you wake up, the darkness, the silence, the noise, the compulsions- they are real. We are masters of facade, of prioritising, of compartmentalising – and amateurs at vulnerability. There is no strength in avoidance, in pretending – there is strength in realising the reality that mental illness looks different in everyone, and if something’s not right, help is a conversation away. For me, it was loudness, smiling until my cheeks hurt, attachment to company – and terrifying numbness and panic whenever I was alone. It was silent, it was invisible. It was real.