Name: Amanda Rixey, Class of 2018
Undergrad: University of Kansas, KS
Hometown: Overland Park, KS
Fun Fact: My massive bear dog, Sherlock, has over 7,000 followers on Instagram.
I think most of my classmates would view me as the hyper, kind-of goofy, and giggly one in the class. It’s easy for me to hide under that personality— especially after having suffered from generalized anxiety and PTSD. Both inside and outside of PT school, mental health is my passion. In 2012, I lost my dad to suicide; ever since, awareness and treatment of mental health has been the biggest thing I’ve ever advocated for. Mental health and physical therapy go hand-in-hand. However, mental health issues can sort of creep up on you as a busy physical therapy student when you least expect it.
There are days when I never want to get out of bed. There are days when I come home from school and all I do is lie in bed. There are days when I don’t study because I’m too nervous about not knowing all of the material for school. There are days when all I do is study because I’m nervous I don’t know enough. Regardless of the day, I have to keep reminding myself I am not crazy. Graduate school is stressful and it is normal to have these feelings of anxiety. The biggest key, however, is to seek help and do something about it.
Here is my list of how I “keep calm and carry on” during PT school:
1. Get help when you need it
The longer you wait to seek medical guidance, the harder it will be. I sought out a counselor and take medications for my anxiety and depression. Regis is awesome and offers free counseling to students—take advantage of it!
2. Don’t be afraid to take medications if that’s what’s right for you
I take an SSRI every day. I find that there is some sort of stigma regarding medicating for depression and anxiety. Overcoming this stigma allowed me to experience life to the fullest for the first time. Talk to your primary care physician or counselor; they can help.
3. Find a network of support
Be open with classmates, professors, family members, friends, or even your dog about what you’re going through. Let them know when you feel anxious or down and talk to them about it. I text my friends when I don’t feel like myself. They are there to help.
4. Take days off from schoolwork
I know that school can seem overwhelming, but it is acceptable to take one or two days off during the week for yourself. Do what you love: workout, hike, do some Pilates, lay on the sofa and watch Bridesmaids for the 50th time, walk your dog!
5. Get involved in the community
Through Regis, I was able to get involved with Spoke n Motion, an integrated dance company. Sharing my experience with dancers of diverse backgrounds helped me feel wanted in a very close community and enjoy dance from a beautiful perspective.
6. Believe in yourself
When I doubt my abilities in school, I notice that I often find myself in a rut. Accept what you know and what you don’t know. Cherish the moments your classmates compliment you and when you succeed. These little moments add up and you will realize that you are a capable student in this profession.
7. Remember that mental health doesn’t have to take over your life
Taking the proper steps and finding the right help will put you on the pathway to overcoming it. Please feel free to email me with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you or someone you know needs help contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK
Regis Counseling Services: 303-458-3507