My makeup is smudged as I lay in bed, attempting to regulate my breathing and calm my racing thoughts. This is the third panic attack I’ve had today, and the worst of the three. My back aches, my head thumping, and my eyes tired. The silence in my room is filled with a faint ringing and every so often, the light of my phone is too harsh and I have to close my eyes.
I’ve spent the day running back and forth on an empty stomach and a restless night of sleep between the financial aid office of my school and classes. The aid I was supposed to receive a week ago was delayed by the never ending pile of IRS related tasks, reporting the income of my family and myself to my school. I’ve been scraping by the past week, living off of my parents’ financial/emotional support and the kindness of friends who understand my situation.
Within three days of being in school, I’ve had almost five panic attacks, starved myself, and gotten little to no sleep. I haven’t gone to sleep without having a mental breakdown this entire week and I can feel my health deteriorating as I type.
And I’m not the only one. Students fill the bursar’s office as each one of us leaves, equally distraught as we entered, only given one word answers from advisors who are supposed to be our support. Financial Aid has its hands wrapped around my throat, as I spin in circles trying to get money that I need to survive.
It’s the end of the day and I feel heavy. My body hurts and I’m too tired to panic anymore. In all of this, I can’t help but think about the trials of other students. Those who don’t have Aid. Those who are homeless. Those who are starving. Those without a collective. Those without a support system. In all of this, I’ve had people alongside me, helping me breathe and manage my situation but I couldn’t imagine coming out of this without them.
There’s something deeply wrong with our education system when our students feel like they’re walking into a corporation instead of a learning institution