Welcome to our new section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus.) We welcome faculty, clinicians and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.
In 2017, my life changed for me once again. I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), due to a traumatic experience in my life. More on that, later! As I began to slowly wrap my head around what was happening in my life, I wondered how I was going to juggle school. Luckily, at the time, I was only taking two graduate courses, but I was also creating a new mental health event. I was nervous and I was scared, but I knew I needed to be strong not only for myself but also for my friends and my family. Breathing a sigh of relief, I started seeing a counselor on a regular basis. It helped tremendously, but I was afraid of what I would uncover. The flashbacks came flooding back, and I felt weak. I didn’t understand why this was happening, why certain things would trigger those horrific flashbacks. I remember I was at home, working on one of my classes when suddenly, a song came on; at that moment, I began to cry. Crying profusely, I felt so unsafe and it nearly broke me. I slowly pulled myself together, the wave of insecurities passed, and I finished my homework for the night. I knew this was only the beginning of what my life would be. At first, I was so angry! Why was this happening to me? I just wanted it to end. I just wanted my life back. I wanted to be a graduate student who didn’t have PTSD. To be honest, I felt very alone. Yes, I had my amazing support system, but I was so tired of feeling so vulnerable. This wasn’t how my life was supposed to be. I just wanted the nightmare to end.
Continuing my sessions with my counselor, I began working on myself. I started journaling when the flashbacks would resurface. It was one of the many tools I use to help with my PTSD. I knew it was going to be a long journey, but I was ready for whatever life threw my way. Focusing on my classes, I would spend some time beforehand, writing down my thoughts and my feelings. It would help for the most part, but there were times something would trigger a flashback. My grades began to slip, and once again I became frustrated with myself. On top of everything, I started distancing myself from the things I use to love. I would put on a brave face and attend events on campus, but deep down, I feared what might happen. I knew I needed to do something to not only help improve my grades, but to help me lead a normal life. I began creating playlists of songs that would help keep me stay calm and I was able to focus a little more. My grades began to improve, and I was so proud of myself. I would listen to those same playlists right before I would attend an event or go on an outing. It was another one of my secret weapons to help with the PTSD. It was a huge accomplishment in my eyes. I knew at that moment, I was going to be okay and that I was on the right track. Yes, I still have a long way to go, but I know, I can do this. With the help and support of my family and friends, things have gotten better. Every day, I wake up and I’m grateful for all the amazing things that have come my way.
Not only am I a graduate student, but I am also a student leader for two amazing organizations at Arizona State University, I am a victim/survivor of sexual assault, and I’m an entrepreneur who has PTSD! I am the founder, board member, and CEO of the BEE Daring Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation for college campuses and mental health. And I am looking forward to sharing my journey with you. Stay tuned!
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