This will be quite the disclosure post…
My cousin Mike showed me this photo in 2017. I have not seen it since it was taken back in 2001. Seeing it now as my present self, I don’t even recognize that girl. & yet, I feel her. I worked through her. Here’s how:
There’s a day during my freshman year in High School I recall so vividly. So much, I can still feel the sensation in the pit of my stomach. It was in Ms. Knife’s English class…just days before Winter break. She paired students to imagine giving a gift to one another. The class was uneven and she included herself. Lucky me, I was paired with her. When it came down to what she would gift me, she said she would gift me a smile.
I felt a knot in my abdomen and tensed up 😳 All while trying to not let it phase me.
I felt so vulnerable because she saw past my anger. She noticed a mask I wore in attempt to cover my sadness and anger towards myself.
It was that moment that I realized how she was right. I didn’t smile, couldn’t remember when was the last time that occurred on my face. She forced me to be aware of how truly unhappy I was & as much as I tried to hide it…I was only fooling myself.
That moment hit me hard. Now that it was brought to my attention, what options did I have? Continue ignore it? Lie to myself that I was “okay”? At the time, I chose to act on it.
During High School, I excelled academically and overly involved myself with friends, after school activities, work and a not-so-good relationship. That’s what my teenage self thought would help make me appear happy. It worked for the most part. I covered my depression with alllll these activities that eventually lead to burnout 😓
Senior year, I took an AP Psychology course. Mental health just spoke to me. I fell in love with everything to do with Psychology. So I went ahead and majored in it (without a doubt) at Stony Brook.
Once more, I had another moment of “ah ha!” This time, it was Summer 2005 during the Equal Opportunity Program (EOP). I made a promise to myself that I would continue to just shine. I remembered what my HS teacher told me she would gift me. & that Summer, I decided to gift it to myself.
In the Spring of 2006, I went to the University’s counseling center, saw my first therapist (of many thereafter) but also, I found mindful meditation.
This month, my intentions are; to have fun whenever possible, live less in my head, let my guard down (cause Lord knows I’m so protective of myself) & to remember how far I’ve come.
Taking care of my mental health has been a combination of many things, including my therapists’ couch, a Yoga mat, through journaling, talking to my close friends, music, massages, traveling, meditation, prayer and even through my work with my patients.
Till this day, whenever I start to feel the slightest bit of sadness, pain, or uncomfortable feelings, I feel it completely. Meaning, I choose to not ignore it. I acknowledge it. & I gift myself whatever it needs to better cope.
Thanks 🙏🏽 for reading. Please be the most nicest person to yourself. Tell yourself kind thoughts/comments. Love yourself like you’d Love someone else