I can say without a doubt that 2019 was the worst year yet; however, while I once resented the challenges I faced, there is a part of me now that is deeply grateful for the lessons I learned.
I learned that you are your own hero, and you have to save yourself. No matter how many people want you to get better, YOU have to want it. It is so easy to stay stuck in regards to any mental illness, and while some days are worse than others, you have to get up, show up, and continue to help heal yourself.
I learned that you cannot run away from your past or your problems. I have spent the past 8 or so years pretending like the anxiety disorder I had as a child did not exist, and striving to be perfect in order to not reveal my anxiety and fear of failure. However, suppressing that for all those years and discontinuing therapy is what allowed them to consume me.
I learned that there is no relationship more important than the one with yourself. There is so much value in taking time to understand who you are. What are your passions? What are your values? What are your shortcomings? A therapist in treatment gave me a quote that said, “Wherever you go, there you are,” meaning no matter where you go, what you do, or who you are with, you still have to live with yourself.
I learned that you have to be your own biggest advocate. Trying to be easy going or “go with the flow” when it comes to decisions being made about your care, medicine management, treatment plan, etc allows you to be walked all over. If you have an opinion, state it because when it comes down to it, you are the one that has to live and deal with the decisions being made.
I learned to hold on to hope. The other day I was talking with my coach about how last semester it felt like we just kept making wrong turns when trying to get me help. It got me thinking that while those particular medicines, psychiatrists, doctors, psychologists, ER visits, and so on may have been dead ends, they were a glimmer of light and hope during such a dark time. It was the thought that, “This could be the answer” that kept hope alive, and through any struggle, there is no harm in being hopeful.
Lastly, I learned that sometimes you find support in the most unexpected places. College athletics are intense, competitive, and time-consuming, and there is a ton of pressure to show no weaknesses in fear that if you do, it will cause you to lose playing time, lose opportunities, or get cut. My freshman year, I was so uptight in hopes that no one would see me as the “weak link.” This past season, it felt like my weaknesses were on full display, but it was never once met with disappointment, and instead, a ton of compassion. Being around my teammates, even if they did not know what was going on at the time, brought me this sense of normalcy and belonging. Their humor, energy, and passion also made it nearly impossible to stay stuck in whatever was going on that day. The coaches were nothing less than amazing. They have given me more grace, understanding, and support than I could have ever asked for. I am excited for my health and recovery in 2020 to allow me to give back to this program what it has given me.