Have you ever thought you reached rock bottom? Maybe you didn’t think you were going to be happy again? Or maybe you have been knocked down so many times and didn’t think there was any way you were going to get through this? Maybe you have been told that you weren’t good enough? Most people have gone through a traumatic event, a heartbreak, or a difficult situation that changed everything. Nothing can truly prepare you for traumatic situations in life until you actually experience it for yourself.
I was going into my senior year of college and all I could think about was how this was going to be the best year yet! I thought this was going to be my year and that no one was going to stop me. I already had graduation and finding a career in the back of my head, but I ultimately wanted to enjoy my last year of college. There wasn’t much to complain about. My family was healthy, friendships were inseparable, and I had a relationship that was stronger than ever. Little did I know that my whole world was going to be flipped upside down.
Early in the school year, I found out my dad was extremely sick. I remember getting a call from my mom and her voice was in extreme panic. I could tell she was worried and all she really said was, “You need to get the next flight back home. You dad isn’t doing well and the doctors aren’t sure if he will make it through the night.”
I remember going into immediate panic. I didn’t really know how to think or what I was going to be walking into. I took the next flight home and I will never forget the image I saw when I walked into the hospital. Between getting the next flight home and arriving the following morning, my dad had to go back in for emergency surgery. My heart dropped. I didn’t recognize the father I knew for 21 years. All I wanted to do was break down in tears, but I knew I had to stay strong for him and my family. I was feeling every emotion I could think of and eventually, everything went numb. Nothing can prepare you for seeing a family member connected to a machine that is keeping them alive.
I remember the surgeon telling us that the infection in his stomach was one of the worst ones he’s operated on. I could tell that my mom wanted to cry. We were constantly asking several doctors what his diagnosis was or what could have caused this to happen, and no one really had an answer. The hardest part through this entire situation was how no one seemed to know what was going on. When people asked “What is your dad sick with?”, and all I could respond with was “I don’t know.” I remember not really knowing how to feel because I had to leave my family at their worst and go back to college. This part was probably the most challenging aspect for me, because there really wasn’t anything I could do with being so far away.
Fast forward a few months and my father is still sick, in and out of doctor’s offices and hospitals, and all I can think about is when my family will catch a break. With everything that happened with my dad, I suffered from anxiety and depression. I remember having several anxiety attacks because my family and I never knew if he was going to make it months, weeks, or even days. I didn’t really know how to go about day to day activities. Getting up from bed and going to work and school was a constant struggle. Little did I know my relationship was falling apart right in front of my eyes, and I had no idea.
After five years, my relationship came to an end. I remember thinking to myself, “This can’t be happening, not this.” I couldn’t even process the thought of losing someone who meant so much to me. Having someone leave you at the lowest point in your life was definitely a wake up call for me. This was the last straw for me to actually crack. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that this was actually happening to me. At this point, I had no idea what to do anymore or who I was anymore. I went from what seemed like having everything, to my whole life crashing down. I couldn’t even recognize the girl staring back at me in the mirror. I was broken. How am I supposed to be happy again? How am I going to get through this now? All I wanted was to be happy again and find myself – whoever that may be. So much for the best senior year.
Figuring it Out
Fast forward to today. I now realize that this was probably for the best. My family is probably the closest and strongest it’s ever been. I am finding out qualities about myself that I never knew I had before. I knew I had to find myself again and remember who I was before everything took a complete turn for the worse. I always knew that going to the gym would help me both mentally and physically, and decided to get a gym membership. Since everything happened, I have never looked or felt better. I am more confident than ever before. While going through all of these events, I was able to graduate with my Bachelors in Public Health. It was probably the hardest, most difficult goal I was able to accomplish. I couldn’t be more proud of myself, and knew I was able to do anything I set my mind to.
Becoming more independent was probably the biggest takeaway from everything. I’ve always had a difficult time making tough decisions, or always had to bring someone with me to do simple tasks. I constantly thought there would be no way I would ever be happy again, but I am probably the happiest I’ve ever been! I began going to the gym around this time to figure out a way to escape these negative thoughts running through my head. The gym was an escape for me. I wasn’t worried about what was happening in the future or what happened in the past. I was present in the moment, focusing on my workouts. I started to actually tell people how I was feeling that day and what was running through my mind, instead of trying to keep it all bottled up inside. This helped me get through some of those really difficult days.
I am so grateful that I had the best support system I could ask for. Even though I may not have seen counseling or went to a therapist, here are some resources that may help you!
This blog post was written for Healthy Young NV by Amanda Aragon, a High Sierra AHEC Program Intern. Amanda recently graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno.