"Are you okay?" is a question often asked by those who care about you. Most of the time we lie and respond "Yes, I'm fine." The truth behind that lie is that we sometimes are not “okay”. A life without struggles, without stress, does not exist.
- But that’s okay; the most important thing to do is accept life as it is and face these struggles head on.
What happens when you feel like there's so much going on and no one is there to listen to you? I was told, like many other people in my Latino community, that when in times of struggles - seek the church for help. As in, confide in God to help you through these struggles. For a long time, I use to believe that praying and believing that God has a plan for me would suffice any struggle. That is not necessarily true.
Going to church did not make my problems go away. I went to church as a way to maintain hope and clear my thoughts. Yet, again, it did not make my problems go away.
I spoke to my friends who told me to consider going to therapy. At first, I was a bit hesitant and discouraged. I told myself, “I do not need therapy”. I told myself that my issues weren't “that serious”. The concept of therapy is often looked down upon because people tend to correlate it with terms like "crazy", "mental" or "depression". I, myself have made those assumptions.
I once told my mother I wanted to see a therapist and she laughed. I laughed along too, thinking that the idea was silly. It was until I started noticing my grades in school were dropping. I was scoring so low on my quizzes and homework assignments. I was lacking sleep due to constant unrest and uncertainty on what I wanted to do post-graduation. I kept having little arguments with my mother which, I knew affected me a lot. I was, in fact, feeling like I was depressed and I was feeling quite alone.
“What is wrong with me?” I asked myself, as if I was ill or diseased. I prayed at night, before my long restless nights, for a miracle to happen. I thought just maybe, something out of the blue would pop out and for some reason rid me of all my “diseases”. One night, I was tossing and turning in bed thinking about my life and figuring out what I wanted to do with it. I was overwhelmed with my classes, working 2 to 3 jobs to pay for my expenses, and in a pretty unhealthy relationship with my mother. I was awake all night as I sat on my bed watching the sunlight from my window illuminate my room. Tears were falling down my eyes as I questioned myself for the last time “What is wrong with me?”
“Nothing is wrong with you.”
That very same morning, I got up and decided to visit the student wellness center at my school. I walked into the office and a lady kindly asked me “May I help you with something.” I responded “I would like to speak to someone.” I felt very strange at first, sitting in a room with some random stranger. Her kind gentle voice did alleviate a lot of my discomfort. After the first couple of minutes of explaining to her my situation, she smiles and looks at me and says “Nothing is wrong with you.” She explained to me that my situation was due to everything I was going through and that I had a lot on my plate. My only issue was that through all my running around from class to work and restless nights, I did not take time to destress. Additionally, keeping everything bottled inside only made my situation worse because I was not able to talk through my problems the way I was suppose to.
After several sessions of counseling, I was able to feel myself getting back together as whole. Every session I discovered an entire new aspect of myself that I had never considered and helped me understand why things were the way they were and how to handle those situations. She helped me create a schedule that helped me balance school, work, sleep and include a social life. She offered suggestions on methods to destress and take time off from everything. All in all, I believe counseling was one of the reasons I was able to complete my last year in college. I found confidences and certainty from those sessions. I share this story to inspire others to consider therapy and to let others know that they are not alone. I share my story so that people can be honest with themselves and if asked the question “Are you okay?”, they would be brave enough to admit the truth instead of bottling it up inside.