Originally posted on PhD Balance social media platforms on 02/26/2020.
I’d fought with my mental health all throughout college. More than once, my parents had to make the three-hour drive to come get me from school because I couldn’t stop crying-- deep sobs that made it impossible to breathe.
And I could never tell them exactly why;
it just felt like my chest was being cleaved open and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t hold the two halves of myself together.
With the help of medication, therapy and a new friendship group, by the end of undergrad, I’d found a stability that was shattered by my transition to grad school.
Microaggressions, imposter syndrome, the isolation, the impossible workload and the new environment were enough to send me into another dangerous spiral.
In the three years that have passed since my last breakdown, I’ve been able to introduce new practices into my life that help me cope with my mental illnesses. I have been a regular participant in a campus meditation group; started new medications and a regular therapy routine; I even began practicing yoga last August. I’ve been able to slowly build a community in my grad institution, bury myself in art and writing, and thankfully, spend time with my family, who live just an hour away.
The number one thing that truly saved me? Time. Giving myself time to heal, to cope, to grieve, to listen, to talk. I’ve learned to hold space for myself. I no longer work my wellness practices around my busy schedule. My work schedule has to be built around what I need to be okay.
No matter how many times I was told, I didn’t hear the truth that I only had one body until I had a health scare last summer. As the saying goes,
If you don’t make time for your wellness, you’ll have to make the time for your illness.
This is a process of getting up and deciding to put myself first-- every day.
I will continue making that choice because I’m learning to love myself enough to do so.
Ravynn Stringfield (@RavynnKaMia) is a PhD candidate in American Studies. She blogs about her grad school experience at blackgirldoesgradschool.com