How my journey with mental health has challenged me

My Experience With Mental Illness Does Not Make Me Weak, But Remarkably Strong

How my journey with mental health has challenged me to become a stronger woman.

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At the age of 10, I developed (what most would consider) abnormal phobias.

This made doing simple tasks like going to extracurricular activities, leaving for vacations, visiting the doctor, meeting new people or even going to school incredibly challenging. When I first developed a fear of school, I really questioned what was going on- especially since I have wanted to be a teacher since I was six-years-old.

But I was confused and incredibly insecure, so I just tried my best to bottle up all my obsessive thoughts and emotions.

Here's the issue. I was completely unaware of how serious this problem was. It was only the start of my struggle with mental health.

It wasn't until I entered my freshman year of high school that I could actually comprehend what was going on inside my body and mind. I began to realize maybe the random episodes of obsessive thoughts, pounding heart rate, sleepless nights, inability to eat, and dizziness were not normal, let alone healthy.

Eventually, this reached the point where I knew I needed to seek out help.

And I was lucky enough to have the most caring patience of family, friends and a psychologist who truly changed my life. Through these support systems, I eventually found out I had been coping with a combination of anxiety disorder, panic attacks and obsessive-compulsive disorder for the past four years of my life.

From the outside, it's really easy to believe someone has it all figured out.

Our pains are not always visible to the eye and our emotions can be internally consuming us, which is why we can put on a mask until we reach our breaking point. Having a mental illness is challenging. I am consciously aware of my disorders every single day.

It makes everything more difficult. The inconsistency is terrifying. But what it has done is pushed me to become stronger.

Mental illness has taught me how to become more accepting, empathetic, compassionate, considerate, open-minded and strategic. Despite times where those have doubted my capabilities, I have accepted that I am strong, not weak, and despite the disorders that I have, I will never be held back from achieving whatever I set my mind to.

As a sophomore student in college, I know I would not be where I am today without the support I have received through therapists, teachers, counselors, neighbors, family, friends and sorority sisters.

And if you are reading this, I can't thank you enough for the consistent support and love you have provided me.

The impact others words can have on your life is remarkable. Despite whatever you are struggling with, you are not alone. Your strength does not go unnoticed and your emotions are always valid. Always remind yourself- reaching out for help is one of the bravest choices you can make. You are worthy and capable.

Don't let others doubts and opinions of you shape the perception you have of yourself.

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To The Girl Who Isn't Graduating On Time, It Won't Feel Any Less Amazing When You Do

Graduating is something to be proud of no matter how long it takes you.

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To the girl who isn't graduating college "on time,"

I promise, you will get there eventually, and you will walk across that graduation stage with the biggest smile on your face.

You may have a different journey than the people you grew up with, and that is OKAY. You may have some twists and turns along the way, a few too many major changes, a life change, you may have taken most of a semester off to try to figure your life out, and you're doing the best you can.

Your family and your friends don't think less of you or your accomplishments, they are proud of your determination to get your degree.

They are proud of the woman you are becoming. They don't think of you as a failure or as someone any less awesome than you are. You're getting your degree, you're making moves towards your dreams and the life that you have always wanted, so please stop beating yourself up while you see people graduating college on time and getting a job or buying a car.

Your time will come, you just keep doing what you need to do in order to get on that graduation stage.

Your path is set out for you, and you will get there with time but also with patience. The place you're at right now is where you are supposed to be. You are going to thrive and you are going to be the best version of you when you graduate and start looking for a company that you will be proud to work for. Don't look on social media and feel less than, because at least you're still working towards your degree that you are finally passionate about. You will be prepared. You will be ready once the time comes and you cross the stage, move away, and start your journey in whatever field you're going into.

Don't question yourself, and be confident in your abilities.

With love,

A girl who isn't graduating on time

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Goodbye School, Hello Real World

I'm ready for ya!

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It's starting to hit me.

I've been in school, year after year, since kindergarten. Maybe even pre-school!

Now, I'm about to graduate with my bachelors in communication and I couldn't be more proud of myself. I'll say it. I often sugarcoat it or suppress it but d*mn it. I'm going to applaud myself. It was hard work. It took a lot of motivation, determination, (caffeine), and willpower to get to where I am today. I worked my ass off.

That being said, I can't help but think... What is life without due dates? What is life like without scrambling to turn in an assignment that's due at 11:59 PM? What is life like with actual sleep? Sleep? I don't know her.

Like I keep telling my boyfriend and my parents, I don't have it all figured out. At least not right now. But I will, and I'm in no rush to land my dream job right now. If anything, I want to take a year to myself. I want to travel. I want to sleep in if I d*mn well please! I want to read as many books as I want. I want to write till my fingers fall off (OK, maybe not that).

You get the jist.

I'm free. I can do and be whatever I want. And you know what? That's terrifying.

I'm lost. I've followed this structure for so long. Now what?

I don't have all the answers yet. But for now, at least right at this very moment, I'm so thankful to have been able to receive such an amazing education. And to be able to say I'm graduating with my bachelors in communication at 21 is an accomplishment in itself.

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