Updated: May 14, 2019
February 14th is always known as a day surrounded by love.
For me, it was the first time I experienced a panic attack.
Last July, I opened up about that experience. In short, it was a Wednesday night and I was at my desk in the Pepperdine Graphic newsroom finishing up some work when it hit me: all the stress of life collapsed on top of me. I felt shortness of breath, my mind racing and rushed to the bathroom where I blacked out. When I woke up a few minutes later, everything went back to normal and I was relieved no one knew what happened that night.
It’s crazy to believe that it’s already been a year since that night. Yet since I shared my story, I can honestly say that my life has never been the same. Within hours, my texts, emails and voicemails flooded with messages of love and support that I cannot thank the world enough for. I talked to friends and family that I hadn’t seen in a long time, getting together in person or simply exchanging calls or texts.
A few weeks later, I woke up to an email from a father telling me that my blog post “saved his daughter’s life.” I paused. Those four words came to a surprise to me. Never would I have imagined what I saw as self-therapy would end up having an impact on someone else. To read those words, be able to share stories and connect on life experience with him and his daughter, two people I didn’t know prior, it was truly humbling yet heart wrenching at the same time. I was not alone in my secret depression. Neither is anyone. Never in a million years.
In the months following my first panic attack, I attended my first appointment with my therapist. It took a lot of convincing to finally go see someone for my depression, but it helped a lot. I recall one of my first conversations with the therapist was my outlook on life, what I wanted to do and what I believed was my purpose. Yeah, the HARD HITTING QUESTIONS. It was so interesting to think about that because for so long, I let other people determine what I wanted to do in life rather than letting God leading me to do His calling.
Fast forward a few months later, I still have yet to truly answer those questions, but I’ve been able to make huge strides into finding my answer. Coming out of college, I worked multiple part-time jobs (all within sports, of course) and really got to talk to many amazing people along the way and share our stories. It didn’t matter if they were older or younger; everyone had something to say, whether about their personal life, about their upbringing, or their thoughts on the profession they hold. Just being around people, it really showed me the importance of being happy with what you do and the impact of continuously inspiring and encouraging the people around you.
Yes, it has been 365 days since my panic attack, and I wish I can say that I’m fully cured from my depression, but I can’t. I don’t think I will ever be. There are still a lot of challenges that I still face internally, but having the support of others as well as therapy with a psychiatrist is what continues to fuel that desire to get better. To say the least, I am still a work in progress.
I revisited my original post prior to writing this and I cannot emphasize this enough: the mind truly matters. Each word talking about my past experiences still send chills through my spine since the foundations of my depression still lie within but as I read through the post, I’ve seen how far I’ve come from what I considered to be “rock bottom.” Depression isn’t a personal failure nor a stigma; it’s just a mental health issue.
Through my bout with depression and panic attacks, I learned that mental health is something everyone goes through. For me, taking that first step to get help was the hardest part. Things won’t turn around with just one visit to the therapist; it’s a process with a lot of ups and downs. But one year later, I can say I am in a much better place and unlike before I sought help, I now have friends and family that are helping me get better.
Since today is Valentine’s Day, take a few minutes to send a little love to yourself or someone you care about. It doesn’t have to be that special someone, but simply someone who has made an impact on your life.
If you or someone you know is going through something, don’t hesitate to reach out and get help. It was the best thing that happened to me and may be the biggest thing you’ll do for someone.