INSPIRING: Student Conquers Struggles of Having a Mental Disorder, Graduates with Honors

Trigger warning: mentions of self-harm

Ericka Capuli started college in June 2013. Seven years later, she officially finished during the midyear of 2020. In an open letter she penned on her Facebook page to accompany her graduation photo, she opened up about what she went through during those seven years.

“It was in 2018 when I was told that I have Bipolar I Disorder, after initially being diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety in 2016,” she began on her post. “I literally froze. Because of my suicide attempts, my psychiatrist deemed me not fit for school; I needed her permission to go back since I was already on leave and the university needs a medical certificate, so to be told that I had to stop schooling was heartbreaking, to say the least. I was already delayed, and to further extend my stay just boggled my mind.”

She explained how she had always struggled with her study habits and, at one point, coped by consuming alcohol every day. It worsened after her diagnosis in 2018, when she could hardly focus and leaned towards self-destructive behavior.

But she did not let her illness stop her from reaching her dreams.

“Now look at me. Despite all the setbacks and the struggles that I have faced, I managed to become a BS Civil Engineering graduate with honors (Cum Laude) from one of the top universities in the country,” she said.

“It is discouraging to have a diagnosis, but I want to reiterate that this does not define me and my capabilities. I am not my diagnosis. I am just as capable as you are. And I know you are as capable as me. I want everyone to know that despite any setbacks that a mental illness can cause, we can always rise above it and unleash our full potential.”

(ALSO READ: Bipolar Diaries: What It’s Like During Quarantine)

“I am not that girl with Bipolar I Disorder. I am a survivor; I am a kindhearted soul, a musician, a daughter, a sister, a friend. We are human,” she continued. “Now that I have graduated, I cannot wait to use these skills after boards (although that might be in November) to further shape my future and the future of this country.

“Thank you so much UP. You have given me more than I could chew, but I am grateful because I learned so much more than I could ever imagine.

“I am with you. I did it; we can do this. I hope this inspires you to push on.”

(ALSO READ: How to Apply For a PWD Card: a Step-by-Step Guide)

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