I’ve always been a talker. My mother has recounted more times than I wished to hear, and often at inappropriate times, that I was asking questions the minute I evacuated her uterus. Spoken words are the way I process things — it’s how I learn. I begin to understand myself and my own thoughts by listening. My ears are my greatest tool, linking my instincts to my psyche, allowing me to process information in packaged rhythms and cadence. I love the sound of my own voice and creating art with words that grabs people, makes them feel, calls them to action. Words are manipulative and powerful. But I don’t just use words to learn and express myself, I also use them to escape.

The truth: Depression sucks. In order to stop feeling, I physically and mentally wear myself down. My friends will say, “Lando, you’re so outgoing!!” or “How are you that extroverted?” but really, they have fallen victim to the facade I’ve created. Exhaustion is my means of coping — being social distracts from my loneliness.

This past fall I was so sad my body felt like I had been bucked off a bronco, my limbs trampled and useless. My depression had seeped out of my mind and into my joints and spine until I could not function. I knew I had to make an appointment with the counseling center because the pain was intolerable. But when I called a couple of weeks from the end of the semester, they had no available appointments before I was to go home for winter break. I made many justifications to myself even though I knew I needed help then: I would feel better at home without the stress of school; I missed my sisters, so seeing them would make me feel better. Unfortunately, being at home brought my traumatic history back into focus. My time at home ended in a failed suicide attempt.

I have since been receiving services at the MU Counseling Center, but I wish I could’ve received them sooner. The Counseling Center lets me use my means of escape in a productive way. I get to talk and share and pontificate and explore. I get to be crass and deep and emotive without restraint. I get to be myself while working toward a healthy mind. There my gender identity is accepted and never questioned. There my trauma is taken into consideration. There my pain isn’t discounted by my achievements.

I cannot express enough how important counseling services are to me and the very fabric of our university community. Voting to #EnhanceMizzou will bring in three new counselors, allowing for more appointments and less wait times, something I desperately needed last semester. I beseech you to vote, and I thank you for letting me use my voice to support a resource I treasure so dearly. I’ve always been a talker.

Fight Tiger!

— Landon J.