The last year has taken so much from us. I am almost certain that I do not only speak for myself when I say the pandemic made me experience life as an hourglass that somehow both increased and decreased in speed. To put it bluntly - we've been robbed of life. Whether this has affected our relationships, opportunities or even time with loved ones, we have all been forced to make adjustments. I distinctly remember the day my country's government announced the groundbreaking news that students in highschool and university would shift to online education. My classmates cheered happily and couldn't wait to get an extra hour of sleep in the morning. However, days quickly turned into months and months quickly turned into a blur of tired eyes and a rapidly growing pile of work. Life has been difficult. However, the pandemic has also given a lot of us perspective. Perspective. What does that imply? Of course the definition of the word in this particular scenario can not be defined. To me, nonetheless, perspective meant that I noticed something I was too busy, too active and too unavailable to notice before. I noticed how much I have improved as a person. Let me explain. When I was a young child I used to write in a diary. However, not the sparkly, fluffy notebook with a heart lock on it. Surely I had one of those too, but this one was completely different. It was handed to me by my psychologist whom I visited every week. I don't remember much of this time in my life as I was only around nine years old. In addition to that, it's a part of my life that I sometimes actively choose to push away. It was not a pleasant time. Almost every night I had panic attacks and more often than not I used to ask myself if this was the time that I would die. During dinner I would go to the bathroom only to calm myself down from the anxiety that was running around my brain like a dog chasing a tennis ball on an open field. When I think of this time I quickly realize how messed up my mind was for a nine year old. Of course I feel sorry for my younger self. But I also try to let it slip from memory. That's why the experience of finding this diary was so important to me. Lockdown made my mental state so much worse than before. I have felt lonely, sad and tired. But what has made it the most unbearable are the spiraling thoughts in my head that never seem to take a break. I understand that the journey and relationship between a person and their mental health is not always a linear one. I understand that certain situations can make it harder to create a positive mindspace. But what I have a hard time understanding is why I can't just get a ticket that tells me when this suffering will be over. When the train of anxiety will leave. When I can wave it goodbye. Sometimes it's not even the anxiety itself that keeps me up all night. Sometimes it's simply the awareness of the fact that it exists, and that deep down I feel it knows me better than I do myself. When I opened the pages to that diary I was taken on a journey through my mind. It was weird. Imagine going on a vivid tour through the most personal and bottomless part of your past. I swiftly remembered writing those words. Those sentences. One part of the book was a chart where you could rate the level of fear a certain trigger made you feel. As I read through that segment I suddenly felt what I believe is the true meaning of perspective. While not a perfect line, I could still observe the progression that only a few moments earlier had been fully invisible. My baby steps were actually the size of a dinosaur's. Not one thing on the list I had made when I was nine even remotely scared me anymore. If I were to fill out the chart once more all the tens out of tens would be zeros. I felt proud of myself. It made me rethink those times that I've doubted the fact that I will ever feel better. That I will ever see that ticket in my hand. I am not cured. Not even close. But it doesn't matter because this story is not the story of how I finally became anxiety-free. Instead, it's the story of how I found the strength to keep working towards that goal. Maybe someday I will be writing essays concerning my full mental health battle, but not today. And that is perfectly okay. I have put that journal back in my closet and I don't intend to look at it for a long time. But it will always be a reminder that even the tiniest improvements are still steps in the right direction. If you've made it to this sentence, thank you. Thank you for taking a little time out of your day and dedicating it to reading about my life. I can confidently say that this little story means a lot to me, and sharing it makes it even greater. While I know nothing about your story or about your journey, I know that whatever you're struggling with will be solved someday. And who knows. Maybe you need to do what I did. Maybe the solution is right there. Maybe you need to see things from another perspective.

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Angell Kim

Always doing things you never would have done...

Dallas, USA