I Didn't Realize My True Potential Until I Started Going To Therapy And Taking Anti-Depressants

I Didn't Realize My True Potential Until I Started Going To Therapy And Taking Anti-Depressants

There is a reason why these are prescribed to people...

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Most people don't know that they need help. I'm not saying going to therapy is not for everyone, because it is for everyone. What I'm saying is most people don't know that the help is there for a reason. Going to therapy seems like such a demonizing subject. Most of the time people associate it with drug or alcohol addiction, or people that are 'psycho'. Yes, there is therapy for that, but it also offers so much more.

About a year ago at this time, I was biting my nails at the thought of my first therapy session coming up. I was scared and didn't know what to think. I knew I needed to go because something was not right with me. I've talked about this before on Odyssey that I was in an abusive relationship. It caused me severe depression and PTSD symptoms for months on end. While leaving it, I didn't feel like myself. I was paranoid all the time, hallucinate and see visions of my abuser while walking to class, or even when I would be driving a car. I'd wake up in the middle of the night gasping and seeing images of my abuser at the end of my bed. There were even times I would grab my hair and scream saying "I don't want to be here anymore!" (implying suicide). This is heavy stuff, but it was a dark time for me. I just wanted all of it to end but I didn't want to die. That's when I knew I had to go to therapy.

When the time to actually go into my appointment, I had a little breakdown in the bathroom beforehand. But I'm glad I did because when it came time to talk to my therapist, all the tears I was going to cry were gone. All I can say after the fact was, wow. I told her everything in detail, beginning to end. Even though I already knew what she was going to say, it was reassuring for her to tell me that what he did was wrong and that these things were happening because of what he did. She encouraged me to begin taking anti-depressants, and I quickly agreed.

When the meds finally kicked in, I never realized how much anxiety I had even before my abusive relationship. Not only was I feeling better, and the PTSD symptoms wearing off, I was so much more relaxed. I used to get anxiety going to the mall, or driving long distances. I would get nervous over the most unlikely things like going out to eat, flying, or going to office hours with a professor just to name a few.

Since I have taken anti-depressants I have noticed a huge change in myself, and that is definitely for the better. I wish I would have gone on them years ago just because they have made such a big difference in my life. I encourage you to not only go to therapy if you think you need it but try medication for your mental health if you are offered it. The doctor's interest in you is only the best, and they want to help you.

Without the help of anti-depressants, I don't think I would have landed two internships, a mentorship, or become president of my Odyssey community at University of Wisconsin Branch Schools. Going to therapy isn't bad for you, these services are out there to help better you and make you well again. With a happy mind, you'll have a happy life.

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The Trauma Of My Illness Helped Me Fall In Love With Myself Again

I take a look back at what my experience has taught me a year later, now with fresh eyes and an open heart.

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My first year of college didn't exactly go as I had planned. Midway through the spring semester (last year), I was feeling overwhelmingly tired and sick with difficulty to breathe and at first, was misdiagnosed with a normal cold.

After only three days of these symptoms and then starting to cough up blood, I went to the ER at Temple University Hospital and was diagnosed with sepsis, strep, and bacterial pneumonia. Luckily, I was admitted in perfect time- before my organs started to fail before my life would be over.

I was very naive at the time and thought the recovery would be quick and easily forgettable. I can remember thinking "a couple of antibiotics should fix this right?" or "I'll just be here through the night, that's it".

I never would've guessed what was to actually happen- three weeks hospitalized, countless tests, IV's, medications, restless nights, surgery, nurses and doctors 24/7, four chest tubes, forced medical withdraw from school, the tears, the hurt, and the pain.

I missed my friends, my classes, my freedom to walk and use the bathroom on my own, the sight of my family's faces without a worried or tired look, and the feeling of inhaling without excruciating torment and pain.

These little things that I had so easily taken for granted before now seemed so distant, and terribly out of reach. I missed so much and at the same time felt so much helplessness, anxiety, and sadness.

I remember looking at myself in the plastic flimsy handheld mirror and not knowing the person looking back at me. I felt like a stranger in the shell of my body- emotionally and physically detached. I couldn't seem to get out of the negative headspace that was consuming me.

I couldn't help but imagine that I was just supposed to die, that I wasn't supposed to make it through.

I couldn't figure out why I was being punished in this way, a way that made me feel completely isolated, guilty for my name seeming to be in everyone's mouth all of the time, sad that for that span of time I felt like I had failed- even though I didn't ask for any of it.

I didn't want to get sick, I didn't want to 'drop out,' I didn't want to continue being a burden to everyone I loved.

But here's what I had such trouble seeing through my pain: love. I mean, I was so grateful and thankful for the well wishes and visitors of my friends and family, but I was missing the big picture.

Chalk it up to my selfishness at the time, or the heavy amount of painkillers I was on, or that maybe I was frozen in the overwhelming situation, but I truly had so much to be thankful for, and those first weeks in the hospital I was blind to this immense and incalculable love that was around me.

Through all of this hurt, there was so much love. I was so lucky to be alive, I was healing, and I was growing, and I continue to do so now.

It is the love of my friends and family that allowed me to realize how I should have been loving myself before I got sick. I should've been soaking up every moment I have, going the extra mile, and of course, loving myself.

I have since fallen in love with myself again- deeper than I ever have before. I stopped being picky with little things that used to bother me, I now accept myself for my flaws and embrace them, and I allow them to empower me.

I give myself time to heal, process, and figure things out. I don't shame myself for any of my imperfectness either. The love I give myself first then allows me to give love to others as well, to reciprocate the joy and care that others have given me.

This experience gave me new eyes, and I started to see things without the haze of my self-doubt. I feel a strength and power within myself that I never thought I had, which I am so very thankful for, and being pushed to my limits enabled me to understand other people's experiences with even more empathy than I thought possible.

Now, when I look in the mirror I know that no matter what my body may look or feel like- I will always be me, and I am so blessed because of that. My literal and figurative scars show me where I have been, what I have been able to endure, and what I have learned.

They also show me that I can (and will) keep going, keep loving, and continuously be unapologetic for who I am. I don't actually regret any of what happened to me, because it brought me so much closer to the ones I love, and most notably, it made me learn to love myself again.

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In Honor Of Women's History Month, Here Are 5 UW-Madison Women That Changed Our Campus.

Here are five women that broke barriers and changed the UW-Madison campus for the better.

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In honor of Women's History Month, I wanted to showcase how important women are to the UW-Madison campus' history. Women from all walks of life have been improving our campus in every field of study since the 1800s. From Lorraine Hansberry, whose play "A Raisin In The Sun" took Broadway (and the world) by storm, to Frances Hamerstrom, a dedicated life-long conservationist who helped to save decimated bird populations all over Wisconsin. These are snapshots of just a few of the amazing women who have made UW the academic powerhouse it is today.

"A woman's place is wherever she wants it to be. And it is most certainly at UW." - Käri Knutson

1. Vel Phillips

Vel Phillips was the first African American woman to graduate from the University of Wisconsin Law School. She served as the first female alderman elected to the Milwaukee City Council and fought against housing discrimination. She was appointed as the first woman and the first African American judge in Milwaukee County. She was also the first female African American secretary of state of Wisconsin. She was an active member of the League of Women Voters and a leader in the civil rights movement.

2. Ramona Villarreal

Ramona is a Mexican American activist who has made huge strides in fighting for justice and equality for those of Mexican and Latinx heritage in the state of Wisconsin. Ramona was a student at UW-Madison in the 1970s where she started a student activist organization that got the university to create a program of Chicana and Latina studies. After graduating she became a teacher in River Valley for over 20 years.

3. Frances Hamerstrom

Frances studied conservation at UW-Madison and became the first woman to earn a master's degree in the field of wildlife management. She was a key player in stabilizing Wisconsin's prairie chicken population after its habitat was all but destroyed. Throughout her 60+ year career, she published many scientific works and several books. She received many awards such as National Wildlife Federation's Special Achievement Award in 1970 and was inducted into the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame in 1996. She worked for the WDNR and was the director of the Raptor Research Foundation.

4. Mabel Watson Raimey

Mabel Watson Raimey was the first African American woman to graduate with a bachelor's degree from UW-Madison. She was also the first African American woman to practice law in the state of Wisconsin starting in 1927, and the next African American woman to follow in her footsteps (Vel Phillips) would not achieve this until 1951! Mabel set a precedent for women - especially women of color - in Wisconsin law practice that many of us wouldn't be able to succeed without.

5. Lorraine Hansberry

Lorraine Hansberry started college at UW-Madison in 1948, and she was the first African American woman to live in Langdon Manor, a house for artistic female students. After school, Lorraine moved to New York where she finished her first play A Raisin In The Sun, which premiered on Broadway in 1959. She was the first Black woman to have a play produced on Broadway. A Raisin In The Sun won The New York Drama Critics award for best play of 1959, making Lorraine the youngest and first Black playwright to ever win the award.

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