May is Mental Health Awareness Month so I couldn’t let this time pass without discussing the topic. We all have minds, so why is mental wellness so taboo?
Two years ago, I hit one of my lowest mental health points to date. It turns out that taking time off University was the best thing I ever did for my mental wellness.
I hit pause on my formal education in 2017. I was attending Brown University as a full time student at the time, working 3 jobs (2 on campus 1 online) and trying to be a real human being.
This stress on top of the lifetime of depression and anxiety I came to college with, made me crumble. I thought that my life was normal and that experiencing burnout was just part of ‘the college experience’. These unhealthy behaviors lead to a one month stay in a psychiatric facility.
Although I desperately needed it at the time, I was ashamed to take a break like this. I grew up overachieving and was even the valedictorian of my high school class. I come from a small Caribbean community where folks rarely went to college, much less an Ivy League University.
So to tell my family that I planned to take time off ‘for my mental health’ and ‘to find myself’ seemed crazy. They thought I lost my mind. I kinda did too.
Looking back at this time off, I am so proud of myself. The things I’ve learned, people I’ve met, places I’ve traveled to, endeavors I’ve taken on have only led me to the real me. A healthier me.
I am now living my dream of being in New York, working as a wellness writer. I have also been presented the opportunity of incorporating yoga into the kids’ leadership workshops I will facilitate this summer. I am happier, healthier (and more scared) than I can ever remember being.
These days, I still have my bad mental health days— we all do. However I am in a space where I know the value of hitting pause and dealing with these issues as they come up instead of repressing them.
I cannot stress the importance of me prioritizing my mental wellness over everything else. Your mental strength serves as the foundation for everything you do. Don’t let this society convince you otherwise.