I think how people deal with fear tells a lot about their character, the real content of their guts. When I moved to New York City after four very intense years of college, I buckled under the pressure of fear. My usual outgoing and loud demeanor were replaced with a cautious and shy one. I stopped loving to do anything I used to.
Although that period of depression gave me a mix of a restful and anxious time to write and think about past trauma, it also gave me waves of self-doubt about my abilities as a writer, friend, daughter, girlfriend, artist, and sister. I spent my first year in New York in a haze of anxiety, which leads me to believe I didn’t like a city that I had wanted to move to since being a little girl in rural Upstate New York.
This haze eventually turned into a cycle of bad decision making and guilt, which lead me to take this past summer and fall semester off from work under the guise of ‘working on my writing,’ but what was actually a time that I worked on myself.
During that time of recovery, I began seeing a therapist weekly, I began exercising, and focusing on things I loved cooking, dancing, and art. Alongside my regained confidence, I started to write more.
If it wasn’t for my incredibly supportive and motivating partner, Noah, I’m not really sure how these past two years would have turned out. Alongside being vulnerable with me that he was scared too, he encouraged me to see a therapist, to exercise, to make friends, and be vulnerable.
I highly recommend that anyone who is suffering from depression, anxiety, or PTSD first and foremost not be afraid to ask for help or admit that you aren’t feeling okay. As a tough-exterior person, I can tell you that even admitting I wasn’t myself was the hardest part of crawling out of the depression hole I landed in.
Once you’ve found yourself comfortable enough to admit how you’re feeling, your next step should be to seek out a therapist or counselor. I recognize that not everyone has access to counseling and that this is definitely a privilege that I’m exercising.
But as someone who couldn’t afford to even pay copays out of pocket, I can tell you that if you are someone who cannot afford to counsel, there are people who want to help you.
Many colleges and graduate programs offer 10 sessions if you are in their health care program: use this resource. Many high school counselors have the ability to point you in the right direction of finding a group and one-on-one therapy.
There are even therapists who go for a ‘pay what you can’ model if you do not have insurance. It’s so scary to even start the process, but the results are truly life-changing.
Talking to someone, especially a professional as wonderful as my therapist, has truly changed some of my negative thinking patterns. When I was in high school and college, I would have panic attacks almost every day.
That led me to be irritable, unkind, and careless with my words. Since seeing a therapist, I cannot remember the last time I had a panic attack.
My last piece of advice is to be gentle with yourself. We live in a world where everyone wants to be noticed for their craft. And sometimes that can make even ‘getting started’ seem terrifying.
Give yourself time to blossom. Have moments of vulnerability and fear, and then turn that into art or magic. We are all capable, but we are all also allowed to be weak sometimes.
So, I’ll leave you with this: this year is your year to take care of yourself in the most loving way you can. Now do it!