The counseling services provided by the Women’s Center saved my life. I say this not to be dramatic or self-aggrandizing, but because it is true.
Near the end of Fall Quarter last year, I knew I was struggling. I wasn’t used to Northwestern’s rigor, or the stress of being away from home, or living without the rigid structure that life had provided for me up to that point. With the encouragement of a few close friends, I reached out to CAPS. I had an intake appointment by phone, followed by an in-person session. I left that session holding a sheet with coping strategies and a referral for care elsewhere in the community, somehow feeling worse than I had when I walked in.
I knew I wasn’t ready to talk to my parents or admit that I needed help. Unable to use their insurance for the private care I’d been referred to, I found myself at a dead end. I decided to just deal with it. Things weren’t that bad.
Except, Winter Quarter, I found myself back in the same place. This time, my best friend sat me down and talked me into writing an email to set up an intake appointment at the Women’s Center. I began going in weekly and talking through my feelings with one of their kind, compassionate, encouraging externs. With her guidance, I went home over spring break and had a tough conversation with my parents about what I had been going through.
Spring Quarter, things improved. The Women’s Center referred me to a psychiatrist and I began to take medication. They were also able to walk me through the process of getting registered through AccessibleNU, even providing the supporting documentation necessary to get accommodations. As the school year came to a close, the Women’s Center put me in touch with a local psychologist who could continue my care through the summer months.
I still have days when I struggle with small tasks, or days when I feel like I’m not supposed to be here. The Women’s Center didn’t cure me, but it is unrealistic to think they could have — or should have. The Women’s Center’s counseling validated feelings I had experienced my entire life. The Women’s Center gave me a name for the struggles I had previously been told were “normal.” Living with mental illness and a cognitive disability is exceptionally hard, but it is needlessly made more difficult without access to the necessary help in a safe, supportive, welcoming environment. The Women’s Center provided me with that help. It is my hope that the Women’s Center will continue to provide that help to students across our campus.
I am incredibly disappointed in the decision to end the Women’s Center’s counseling services.