In the fall of 2015, I was heading off to graduate school at the University of Washington in Seattle. I saw this opportunity as a rebirth, a time to start over, and with that came the all too common thought that my mental health was under control, that I no longer required the self-care or support to which I had grown accustomed.
Everything first began to fall apart in September when my grandpa passed away. My grief along with my mental health negligence and the loneliness of a new city drove me further and further into isolation and depression. To cope with the despair, I began to drink heavily, each day running further from sobriety and inevitably the reality of my pain.
After weeks of struggling in silence, I finally found the courage to reach out to a professor, a woman who preached self-care and always finished class offering a listening ear if anyone needed to talk, and that’s exactly what she did.
She sat listening, compassionately, as I vented with tears in my eyes. We finished that talk by making a safety and self-care plan. That conversation was all I needed. By simply listening, she gave me hope that everything was going to be okay.
When I look back on this past year there is one lesson that continually presented itself, which is that it is okay to not be okay. It is a saying I struggle to accept but thankfully I have had amazing people in my life, like my professor, who have reminded me of those words by simply showing they care.
Caring words and a listening ear are all it takes to change someone’s life. I know my professor did that for me, and today life continues to offer its challenges but that’s alright because I know it’s going to be okay.