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Navigating Mental Health and the Future

On June 1st, I officially became a college graduate. I arrived at my graduation late, but

that didn’t matter considering everyone was walking around. I ended up sitting towards the back

with empty seats around me. I sat alone as the commencement speeches went on and I realized

that for the first time in however long it’s been, I was at peace. My heart rate was steady, I didn’t

feel like I was gasping for air. As I waited to move the tassel from the right to the left, I came to

notice how influential it was to me and my mental health that I was going to get my Bachelors

because I followed my passion. Everyone at one point or another will find “that thing” that they

have. Mine is writing, filming, telling the stories in my head and attempting to bring them to life.

However, I am going to tell you where I was mentally a couple of months prior.

In September of 2022 I turned Twenty-Five. No one prepared me for how triggered I was

going to be in this new age. Once I turned Twenty-Five I realized that I had completed about ten

years of an on and off relationship with my undiagnosed depression. I became self-aware of my

mental health and at this point I know depression as a character on its own better than I know

myself. I notice when “it” is around. I notice how “it” dresses me with lazy and unflattering

clothing. I’ve noticed how “it” feeds me- I binge eat, stuffing my face with everything that's

good and unhealthy. I abandon the things that I love about myself such as my hair, which can go

unwashed for weeks. My room, my sanctuary, will look as if a twister blew everything around

and out of place. My hobbies, my escapisms, such as books go unread and my notebooks and

keyboard go untouched for days. This is probably the worst one for me. As someone who is an

overthinker or constantly thinking of my next imaginative story all of these thoughts end up

drifting away. They drift away until I am drained of any imagination and only internalize my

emotions, my best ideas vanish into thin air. I abandon myself in all aspects, but this time was

different and slightly more frightening.

For the first time in years of dealing with it, “it” was too quiet. All the characteristics above remained the same, but for the life of me I couldn’t see my future. No matter how hard I tried to imagine myself as a writer or filmmaker, I would stare into the dark void inside my head. I couldn’t even put myself in a fake scenario. “Maybe this is it,” I thought. It was as if I was nonexistent to my own self and was just living day by day robotically.

It all finally caught up to me. For all my years I have been conditioned then expected to

be mature for my age. Applauded for my obedience and overachieving ways. I’ve felt as if my

mind has been adulting for so long that I’ve become tired. Mentally, emotionally, and physically

exhausted while everyone else is telling me that “it’s not all that bad, life now is just beginning.”

As I sat on that chair on Graduation Day, I had come to terms with this on and off relationship.

Perhaps I was on some adrenaline, or my imposter syndrome was kicking in. I think being able to

sit alone and applaud myself for my accomplishment before becoming the immediate center of

attention allowed me to think that for a moment I was capable of saving myself.

Recently, I looked at my vision board that I made about two years ago and saw that for

the academic section all I wanted was to get a Bachelors in Art and a GPA of 3.5. Well fast

forward and this is exactly what happened. I graduated with a 3.5 GPA with Cum Laude Latin

Honors. The outcome of such decision making that only involved me empowered me to develop

this selfishness. I enjoyed the fact that I wanted something and brought it to full fruition all

because I trusted myself. There was no interference when it came to my passion. I became my

own guiding light.

I don’t want to continue this cycle, it shouldn’t have gone this long in the first place, and

standing up for myself has become the main focus of what drives my passion. This type of

vulnerability, sometimes, can come off as negative. No one really wants to hear of all the

dreadful ways of why you are sad, especially when it is thought of you to have no reason at all to

be sad. I’ve noticed though through my work that this vulnerability is a trick in my writing. In

the stories I make, in the characters I create, I use my vulnerability as a way to communicate and

make sense of my relationship with my mental health.

Recently I have made it a point to seek help and to make decisions solely on what I want.

I have learned over the years that any burst of peace or happiness is only temporary. It’s hard to

accept the reality that moments of contentment are sporadic, not always consistent and I must

understand this. So, if this is a temporary feeling, my goal this time is to take advantage of it. To

exercise my mental health by my vulnerability in my writings, I can continue being my own

guiding light. Just me, my writings, my passion for communicating with people who are dealing

with this so-called relationship with mental health. Break the toxic cycle replacing it with peace,

contentment, and positive escapism through storytelling. Extending this time of enjoyment to be

felt over and over again.

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