When I was 11 years old, my parents divorced, initiating my first heart break as I lost the perfect family that I had always wanted. My life as I knew it was forever changed, and I struggled to cope with the overwhelming feelings of sadness and anxiety that accompanied these alterations. Thankfully, my parents recognized my fading mental health and put both me and my twin sister into therapy to learn how to cope with the incredible changes occurring in our lives. After a year of seeing her, I no longer needed the extra help of my therapist to get through life, but upon entering high school, my symptoms of anxiety and depression worsened with the immense pressure I placed on myself to be the best that I could be.
I was extremely busy in high school, taking all honors and AP classes while dancing over 20 hours a week outside of school and somehow finding time to volunteer countless hours at the local animal shelter. In retrospect, I was way in over my head, and both my mental and physical health at the time were deteriorating. However, I tried to ignore my feelings for as long as I could because it seemed as if my peers were just as busy as I was, but instead of struggling with stress and their insecurities, they were thriving and confident students both inside and outside of the classroom.
As time progressed, I began to withdrawal from my friends and family. I stopped raising my hand in class to ask questions and to give answers, even when I knew I was right for fear of looking stupid, and I always felt like the dumbest person in the room no matter how great my grades were. I was tired and fatigued every day, and I was oppressed by this unexplainable and overwhelming feeling of pain, followed by an enormous sense of guilt for being in such agony when I had an amazing life compared to others that are less fortunate than I. I started to despise myself and was terrified by my own thoughts, one of them being a desire to fall asleep and to never wake up so that all of my problems would go away. This led to me lashing out at my family and having intense mental break downs on a nightly basis.
I eventually realized that no one should have to go through the immense suffering I was experiencing all by themselves when they are surrounded by a support system of family and friends, so I reached out to my mother and scheduled an appointment with my therapist. I began seeing my therapist every week for the rest of my high school years. She helped me regain my confidence, find myself and my purpose again, and survive through my feelings of worthlessness and the stressors of high school. I now believe that therapy and an unhealthy mind aren’t something to be ashamed of but should be embraced and just as normalized as going to the doctor for an unhealthy body.