When I started college, I never thought I would go to therapy. The first few weeks I did feel fine, but I really wasn’t. Throughout my teenage years, I had signs of anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and depression all stemming from trauma. I learned these terms in therapy. None of this goes away unless you address it and in therapy I did. I decided to start therapy because a part of me wanted to grow, evolve, and understand what I was going through.
Basically, my brain had unlocked all of the trauma I had gone through as a child. It did feel like my past was haunting me when it was just my brain wanting to heal. Therapy became my safe place to freely express myself and feel heard. It really changed my life.
After graduating last year, I realized there were still issues that I needed to confront and it was scary. I did not feel comfortable talking to anyone new with what I was struggling with. The thought of opening up to someone new was very scary. At the same time, four years of therapy did have an effect on me. I had learned many tools to help me which I just needed to implement in my life. There were some that I had implemented but others that I had not fully committed to. I decided to slowly commit to journaling, meditating coloring, and feeling.
Feeling while journaling
I have been journaling since I was in high school and throughout college. Despite this, I didn’t realize how much of a resource it can be to confront my issues. Little by little I realized I was releasing a piece of my pain by writing it all down. My mind was quiet.
This came with a lot of tears and long journal entries. I learned a lot about myself and how much I had been through. Admitting the difficult stuff is challenging and even heartbreaking. However, journaling has allowed me to let go and forgive. I think the challenge is having to feel it all.
For a full year, I have been learning how to feel. I didn’t choose to suppress my feelings. It was just how I grew up. For the first time in my life, I allowed myself to feel the pain, the hurt, the anger, and the sadness. I had to accept that it was okay for me not to be okay. Of course, all of this is hard. It was overwhelming and I just wanted it to go away. The hardest moments always feel eternal for me because of uncertainty. I always want to know what’s going to happen next or move on from the situation. On the contrary, it’s not how it works. Challenging moments will take their time but they do come to an end. I try to live each day one day at a time because you get the chance to live each day differently.
Mental health is hard
Mental health is an everyday challenge because you have to check in with how yourself and give yourself what you need. Without a doubt, it’s a whole process that you have to address in order to heal. Clearly, healing takes time. I had to accept that I wasn’t going to feel better in a few days and I didn’t know when I was going to feel better. It’s okay. It’s normal to feel, it’s okay to cry, and it’s okay to be angry. You can’t rush healing. Someday you will wake up and either the pain will go away or you will not feel as hurt as you once did. I’m still working on feeling and healing because the process is going to be different each time. No one is perfect at it. Don’t give up on yourself. You will be okay. It will get better.
You really are not alone and it is easy to feel this when your thoughts are constantly making you feel that way. I can’t tell you how many times I have felt this even when I know it’s not true. Moreover, there are a lot of people out there who have experienced what you have been through even if you haven’t met them yet. Take a deep breath and write your thoughts down. You can even talk your thoughts out loud or talk to a friend. With that being said, be patient with yourself and comfort yourself whether it’s with a blanket, tea, a stuffed animal, etc. Decide what makes you feel better. None of this is easy. I think trying is the first step.
If you do need help, you can get help.
Take a break
Just as it is important to feel, it is also important to take a break. This can be whatever makes you feel good. I meditate, color, watch TV, read, listen to music, etc. I didn’t start committing to meditation until this year because I was stressed out. Besides this, meditation has really helped quiet my PTS and helped calm my anxiety. I don’t feel as anxious as I did before.
Furthermore, I really like to color. I bought a coloring book and it has really helped me destress. Also, for me, it’s fun because I get to make the pages colorful. I like thinking about what colors I’m going to use and I feel like I’m bringing the drawing to life. Being out in nature is very peaceful and allows my mind to rest.
Grief in the Wake of a Pandemic