The Moment I Realized I Needed to Slow Down and Be Honest With Myself

How I Became an Active Participant in my Mental Health Journey

October 2018 started like any other October, the arrival of fall winds and my birthday. On Oct. 6, I shared mimosas, broke bacon and ate french toast in celebration of my 23rd birthday which passed on Oct. 3.

Since last year, I have hosted the annual Music and Mimosas Event during a weekend near my birthday. I use this event to be in community with the most meaningful people in my life but this year felt different, a physical distance separates me from my inner circle.

While we continue to communicate via social media and iMessage, I lost immediate access to my support system. Life changed. I also lost part of my identity.

In May 2018, I participated in numerous celebrations recapping my experience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and recognizing my journey to receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism (Reporting) and Communication Arts (Radio-TV-Film) with a Digital Studies Certificate. I cherished these moments even though I did not finish my coursework until a few weeks ago.

Throughout the final academic year of my undergraduate career, severe anxiety and depression disorder plagued my experience. Yes, I enjoyed the most pivotal moments with my friends, however, I still felt a sense of despair.

Who am I if not a student? What contributions could I offer if not apart of a campus or organization? These concerns fueled my disorder and gave me emotions I have not felt since I was 17-years-old.

I began spiraling and I did not know how to catch myself from impending doom. Academic mentors would often tell me that “I’m not alone.” or things like “Other people went through worse when I was a student so can you.” but this did not help me.

Nothing helped. In the Spring, I got to the point where I was unable to focus on a single task or comprehend a sentence I just read. I began hearing voices in my head and struggling with paranoia.

Throughout this time, I feared for my life. I did not know what to do. Then, I went back to counseling. My counselor assured me the world would not end if I did not finish on time. They promised me life would be okay and the sky would not fall if I took my time so I did just that.

At my day job, I assemble mail-in surveys attaching cover letters and sometimes cash.

I begin focusing on myself. I still struggled, however, I begin focusing on the process of recovery. In the process, I discovered taking anti-anxiety medication actually worked for me. In August, I finished any additional course requirements I needed for my major and wrapped up an incomplete just a week ago.

I finally finished.

Throughout this process, I came to the conclusion I needed a strong community around me. I needed to be active within my community and consult my team throughout the week.

I also realized I am a true creative. I need to focus on projects I am passionate about, it’s important to my survival. Since July, I have been working in the mail room at a survey research facility, however, after recognizing focus at work fading I switched gears.

Now, I am focused on my career as a freelance writer, social media marketer, and blogger because it makes me happy. I am ready to thrive.