Shell shock. It’s the only way I can describe how I felt at college. As a premed student, I felt discouraged by my performance in high-stress environments and was having trouble concentrating. It was overwhelming to feel the pressure from my family to pursue medicine as a career. I felt like I was sinking under the pressure from my family to continue my medical career.
I worked so hard and didn’t do well. What was the problem?
Junior year was a time when I began to think about my career choices. I felt that a career as a doctor wasn’t for me. When I thought more about it, I realized that I chose the field not because it was interesting but because it fulfilled my unquenchable desire to please my parents. I decided to stop pursuing medicine and instead focus my efforts on a career in public health.
It was difficult to convince my parents to support my decision. But, the most challenging thing was to make peace with my decision. This is when it all began — in Boston, Massachusetts this summer.
Then came the feeling of constant worry and restlessness. I would feel lightheaded and nauseated when I woke up in the morning. My mind would race, my heart would beat faster, and my lungs would struggle to keep up with my rest of the body. This was the beginning of many panic attacks.
As the summer progressed, I noticed that I was suffering from anxiety. Panic attacks started to become more frequent. A therapist advised me to keep active and surround myself by friends. My condition did not improve.
After I had returned to school in September, my hope was that schoolwork would distract and ease my anxiety. It turned out that I experienced the exact opposite.
My anxiety amplified. Before and during class, I felt anxious. Disappointment struck me again. Why didn’t my situation improve? It was paralyzing to be back at school. The worst came next.
I started skipping classes. My escape was sleep. I would get up at odd hours to go to bed, just so my mind could be numb. Sometimes I would cry, sometimes for no apparent reason. I was entangled in a vicious cycle of thoughts.
The physical pain felt like an escape from the emotional self-torture. My anxiety and depression were at war.
Even though I was surrounded with friends, I felt alone. Even though I tried explaining to them, my parents couldn’t understand why I felt down. My mom suggested meditation and yoga to improve my mood. My dad said it was all in my head. How could they believe that I can’t get up every morning to start my day on certain days?
Gratitude and hope for tomorrow
After months of therapy, ups and downs, my parents finally allowed me to start taking antidepressants. I am now able to understand the pain and suffering I felt.
Here I am. Still anxious, still depressed. However, I feel a little more optimistic. Although the journey to this point was difficult, I am just happy to be here.
Today I want to express my deepest appreciation to my family, friends, and everyone who has supported me.
To my parents: I cannot thank you enough for loving me unconditionally and accepting my darkest side.
To my friends: I want to thank you for being there for me when I’m crying, for forcing me into breathing when it was physically impossible, for holding my hand throughout these difficult few months. I am grateful to the people in my life who have allowed me to vent and never made me feel guilty.
Anyone who has experienced something similar can understand that they are not the only ones. Although you may think no one understands what your going through, there are others who do. Do not be afraid or ashamed of the things you are going through.
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You will feel better no matter what you are feeling. You will learn more about yourself in the process than you ever imagined. You will discover that you are a fighter and there is no place to turn when you hit rock bottom.