For a very long time, I viewed “emotional wellness” as a goal that I strived to achieve. Whether I knew it or not, I was viewing emotional wellness as a stagnant destination rather than an ongoing state of being. Being “okay” was an achievement that I wished I could check off my list of character attributes and add to my personal resume.
I had an idea in my mind of the ultimate well person, who did not feel emotion or react visibly to things, who was always composed and stoic in the face of adversity, and who never experienced the highs or lows with which I seemed to be challenged. Newsflash, that person does not exist—not for me, at least.
As a consequence of having such an inflexible and unrealistic view of emotional wellness, I frequently became frustrated with myself when I failed to meet these standards. I was very critical of myself, my experiences, and the ways that I handled how I felt. I was ashamed of all the tears that I cried so frequently, ashamed of the days that I struggled, and I felt that reaching out for help would be the most egregious and burdensome act of which I could ever partake. I hated the times when I reacted to things because of how I felt and was embarrassed to be open about my highs and lows.
I went on like this for a very long time—my entire adolescence and early adulthood, truthfully. Things came to a screeching halt for me in February of 2017.
I was in my sophomore year of undergrad, and it was Valentine’s Day. That night, I suffered an emotional breakdown that was so severe, I had to be hospitalized. This experience was one of the worst of my life.
The first thing that happened when I spoke to my family and friends was