Leah Pollick
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Senior Year, Best Year Ever! Right?

Part One

Well, not exactly. Going into my senior year of college, I had one thing on my mind—which was to get through fall semester. And let me tell ya, college was not a walk in the park for me by any means. School never came easily to me and I had to work very hard for the grades I have. So by my senior year, I was expecting to have that feeling of satisfaction, knowing I freaking made it to my senior year after all of the trials and tribulations I had been through. Well, that wasn't exactly the case, and for the entirety of my fall semester, knowing the end of college was near was the only thing getting me through the day. It was a very unfortunate way of looking at things during what was supposed to be the happiest year of my life, which took another huge toll on my mental health.

The beginning of the semester wasn't too bad, I had normal anxiety of a college senior trying to find an internship while balancing an 18-credit course load. However, on the six year anniversary of my close friend's death at the end of September, the world seemed to be crashing, once again. It was around this time that I was thinking thoughts I never thought my mind was capable of thinking, and the worst part? The worst was still yet to come. 

During this time I found a lot of comfort in writing and working out. If I woke up feeling anxious, which quite honestly was more often than not, I would write out what was bothering me in a journal, and go for a run. I did this consistently for a few weeks. I thought that I had found my cure and all of my problems were starting to go away. Boy oh boy, was I wrong. 

The month of October turned out to be one of the hardest months of my life looking back. But this is where things get tricky, and how your brain is a powerful, yet in a very confusing thing. By the beginning of October, I was starting to feel like myself again. I landed a great internship at a company I always wanted to work for, and for the first time I felt anxiety-free for at least two weeks. I had no idea how or why this was happening, but any break my brain gave me, I would take. And in my mind, I did it. I conquered my anxiety, and everything would be okay from here on out, right? WRONG. 

By mid October, I had lost both my babcie (grandmother in polish) and a week later, my other closest friend's father to pancreatic cancer. At this point I felt beaten down, exhausted, and absolutely petrified of the next terrible thing that would happen next. This triggered weeks of crippling anxiety; where I was petrified of the future, the present, and of how devastating this past year was for me and my family. 

It was during this time, I had to take a long hard look at my situation and ask myself what I could do to make it better. This wasn't in a dramatic way people see in the movies where I physically starred in the mirror and pondered what I could do differently, but it was more of a self-inflicted reality check. I knew that I needed to find a therapist, and start working through the issues that started to feel like a physical weight on my chest. Luckily, I was able to find a therapist down in Maryland that made the weight feel a little less heavy.  

Some tips I have for anyone going through the brunt of the struggle:

  1. It won't last forever, as much as you think it will, it won't.
  2. Find what makes you feel okay. Doesn't have to be good and doesn't have to be great, but okay will do. Whether that's going outside for a walk, listening to your favorite song or album—even a million times in a row if you're like me.
  3. Remember who you are and how far you've come, even if it has to be a daily reminder.
  4. Appreciate the ones around you.
  5. Be grateful for the people who have seen you at the highest of highs and lowest of lows. 
  6. Take it one day at a time, and if one day is too much, take it one hour at a time. Heck, if you need to, take it one minute at a time. 

To be quite honest, I could not tell you how I got through those weeks or how I managed to go to class, take exams, do projects, go to my internship and stand out to my bosses, and somehow manage to be a "fun" college senior. But I can tell you one thing, it is possible. I am living, breathing proof that there will be a period in time where everything you go through starts to make sense. It will make sense why you had to experience the lowest of lows, to recognize a place you never want to be again. 

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