“I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.” –Hafiz of Persia
Back in August of 2014, I wrote a post about living with mental illness (specifically depression and anxiety). I was absolutely terrified to post it, but I did, and it’s probably one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Many people came to me publicly and privately to talk about their struggles with mental illness, and many more voiced their support of me. To put it in a cliche, it was truly eye opening. It was incredible to see that just by being open about my own struggles, how that unlocked a door for acquaintances, family members, and close friends alike to trust me enough to tell me their stories.
If you recall, back when I posted it, I had been off my medications for about a month, was doing okay, and absolutely did not want to go to therapy. This all changed a few months later when I could tell that I need to start taking my anti-anxiety medications again, and soon after, my anti-depressants. My aunt passed away the week before Thanksgiving, I was struggling with my schoolwork, and I basically wanted to stay home all day and do absolutely nothing. I wanted to stay in bed and sleep my life away. Fortunately I have a great job and a great support system, so I somehow managed to not let it affect my schedule. I wanted to sleep all day, but I couldn’t. So I didn’t. This was when I realized that maybe I should go to therapy because I really needed to deal with all the thoughts swimming in endless circles in my head.
I went to dinner one night with one of my best friends after I got home from Thanksgiving break. We’ve always been very open with each other about our anxiety and depression struggles, and at this point I was in a pretty dark place (e.g. If I got in a car accident, I really wouldn’t care). She made me pinky promise her that I would make an appointment to see a therapist. So, I kept my promise, and I made the appointment.
I had my first session yesterday, and let me tell you, I was a ball of nerves. But as soon as my therapist walked in and we started talking, I knew everything would be okay. She was open, kind, and we talked about all sorts of things. My favorite part is that she gave me some amazing advice, and several actionable things (read: homework) I could do to help improve my mental health. We talked about Robin Williams and I cried. We talked about traveling and happy things and I laughed. It was quite the roller coaster of emotions. At the end of the session, I already had a mental checklist of things I wanted to talk about next time. I have an appointment for a week and a half from now, and I couldn’t be more excited.
As soon as I left the building, I texted all my friends who knew I was going and said, in all caps, “THERAPY WAS AMAZING!” And I mean it. I wish I could put into words how good it feels to have a stranger that is willing to listen to all your problems, big and small, without judgment, and give you actionable and helpful advice. I’m finally starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel, and I know that through mindfulness, hard work, and keeping a strong support system, I’ll be able to get to that light and hold onto it.
If you are a student or employee at LLUH, you have access to several free sessions at the Employee and Student Assistance Program. Everything from your basic information to your actual appointments are highly confidential and they create a safe space for you to discuss what’s on your mind.