Remember yesterday when it was fun and lighthearted and we talked about the time I attempted to raise four chickens for science? Yeah. Well, buckle up kids because today is a different kind of day. When I first saw this word, I immediately assumed I would go into a schpiel about body image. It’s something that I don’t think about a ton, but definitely enough that I could probably squeeze a good five or six paragraphs out of it. However, the more I thought about it, the less I wanted to talk about body image. Instead, I thought I would talk about a different kind of weight- the emotional kind.
A year ago I was in super intense therapy. I was going in every Thursday, and I was journaling about it a lot as well. I had a lot of emotional weight bearing me down and making it harder to deal with the other stuff that was going on. Many of you will remember this, but at the end of last school year I basically shut off all my emotions, disassociated from everything but getting all my work done, and then broke down into tears the first night of my graduation weekend. I hadn’t gone on my class trip, and I had a month and half of general anxiety during the summer before going to France.
When I returned from France, I stopped going to therapy. I had made great progress over the course of the year, and since my counselor happened to be leaving, I figured I would be okay to stop then and there. When I started college that September, however, I quickly realized that I still had much work to do. I had multiple panic attacks during the month of October, and the flashbacks to childhood that I had thought were over managed to return full force. I’m lucky that my university offers ten free sessions of counseling for students, and towards the middle of October I walked myself in and explained what was going on. I had a couple sessions every other week after that, and then my counselor told me he thought I was doing okay, and I, in his words, “graduated from therapy.”
As you may remember, the months of January-March were really good for me this year. I wasn’t homesick, I was surrounded by good people, I enjoyed my classes, I was in a play, and I wasn’t super stressed. I didn’t feel an urge to go back to counseling like I had the previous quarter. And then, almost like a ton of bricks, spring quarter arrived. I spent seven weeks completely focused on A Wrinkle in Time, and much of my emotional energy was spent trying to keep my friends afloat while still trying to handle my insecurities. I was also writing a research paper on drama therapy and how it can help children cope with trauma, and while it was super interesting for me, it also brought up some stuff that was hard for me to deal with. Right after AWIT ended a few weeks ago, I was given a new scene assignment that has easily taken up 70% of my brain space. This is a story that I’m sure you’ll hear about in a book at some point in time, but not quite yet (mostly because I’m still in the thick of it and I’m not completely sure what I’m supposed to learn yet).
I wound up going back to the counseling center last week, and yesterday I had another session to debrief a few things. I’m still going for walks and journaling and doing other things that I try to keep as habits so I can keep my mental health in check, but sometimes I need a little extra help. I couldn’t juggle all the plates in the air by myself anymore, and I needed someone to take a couple of the plates for a moment so I could regain my balance and put things into perspective again.
When emotional weight is bearing down on you, it is okay to ask for help. For me, asking for help often comes in the form of going to counseling. Sometimes it’s talking to friends or writing in my journal, and when I’m feeling especially bogged down I call my mom more than usual (but I call her a lot, so…). Asking for help looks different for everyone. When emotional weight takes up lots of space in our brains, it can be so hard to do or think about anything else. I think people talk about physical health a lot, and yeah, that’s important too. Your physical health will play into your mental health. But I still believe that taking care of your emotional wellbeing, and talking about that is also super important. Asking for help is really, really, really hard. But if you go to the right people, it’s always worth it.