In January, I officially became a college student again. For a couple years, I hadn't even considered returning to school to be a realistic goal for myself. By the summer of 2016, I finally felt confident and prepared enough to look into finishing my bachelor's degree. By November, I was accepted to SUNY Empire State College, ready to pursue a degree in Community and Human Services.
Now, in the middle of March, I have just begun my second class in the program. One of these classes is Crisis Intervention. For our "icebreaker" post, we were asked to write about a turning point in our lives, a time that we felt nervous or uncertain but resulted in something fantastic. One of the most incredible turning points in my life was when I decided to sign-up for a TMI Project memoir writing workshop; it truly changed my life and changed the way I thought about my journey with mental illness. I wanted to use my blog to publically share what I wrote for my icebreaker discussion:
Crisis Intervention- Turning points
I believe that the most important and definitive aspects of my life have been the results of turning points. The largest obstacle I have faced in my life has been coping with and healing from a sudden and severe anxiety disorder I developed at 21, right after my Junior year of college ended in 2013. Since then, I have confronted several turning points as I have been getting my life back and learning about who I am as an adult and what I want out of life.
In 2015, I learned about the TMI Project. This nonprofit comes to the facility where I attend therapy and hosts a 10-week workshop where people meet to write about their personal stories which are then formed by the directors into individual 8-minute monologues. The workshop concludes with a performance of these personal monologues to an audience. The thought of opening-up to a small group of strangers in the workshop was unnerving enough, but imagining sharing my story a room full of people and then having the video on posted to YouTube terrified me. Despite my reservations, I took a chance and signed up for the workshop beginning at the end of September.
Each week I attended, I became increasingly comfortable with the other members of the group and slowly realized that this experience was changing the way I felt about myself and my illness. The monologue made from my pieces was perfect, and when the day of the performance arrived, I felt more at ease and confident than I could have imagined. Sharing my story that day resulted in an incredible chain of events. I started a blog about mental illness, was invited by the TMI Project to read that monologue at many various events, became the recipient of the YWCA of Ulster County’s Next Generation Award, applied to SUNY Empire State College to pursue a degree in Community and Human Services, and was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the YWCA of Ulster County. My life has not taken the path I had originally planned, but I could not be more thankful. It was at that crucial turning point where I discovered my strength and my passion for helping others.