Yesterday I drove an hour north to Troy to attend an overnight Governance Retreat for SUNY Empire State College. I represented my region on the Student Affairs Committee, as the primary representative couldn't make it. I had the most amazing time meeting faculty, staff, and students from all around the state. The experience motivated me to keep working hard in my studies and encouraged me to get more involved in student life.
As I drove home today, I reflected on my journey. Last week was the 4 year anniversary of when my family and I realized I had a mental illness. If you’re familiar with my battle with an anxiety disorder, you'd know that going on this trip would've been impossible for me, even just a year ago. I faced serious issues and obstacles during my battle with mental illness, but for me, nothing was as painful as the day I had to withdraw from my senior year of classes at SUNY New Paltz. I was just 30 credits away from my Bachelors degree. As much as I wanted to explore what was around me and experience adulthood, my priority throughout my recovery was feeling safe. I wasn't going to push myself to the point of jeopardizing the recovery process. I’m glad I took the time to rebuild my strength and discover which coping mechanisms work for me.
I spent the drive today thinking about how far I've come in 4 years and how much I want people with mental illness to have these peaceful and happy reflections. Both those with psychiatric disorders and those without need to understand that a chemical imbalance in the brain or experiencing trauma should not determine one’s future or limit one’s potential. That is why I speak. That is why I write. That is why I will always share my story.
The rest is still unwritten...