I sat down this morning with the intention of writing a completely different column. Something about tattoos. I’ve been trying to get one since 2015, and finally, after years of searching, I’ve found an artist with my dream art style who works in a semi-accessible building (i.e., a building with steps I can circumvent using my portable ramp). I’ve written several columns on the subject, so I thought I’d update my readers on my progress. But, as is par for the course with this column, it didn’t happen exactly as I’d planned.
If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know it’s been a rough couple of weeks for me anxiety-wise. It’s not anything in particular — just a nagging sense of unease, trailing behind me like a blurred set of footprints. Things haven’t felt right. More specifically, things have felt off. Wrong. I couldn’t pinpoint the cause, so I did what I always do when I’m hit with the waves of anxiety: I ride them. I meditate, and journal, and fill the silence with piano music.
Then today happened. Through a series of complicated and completely unrelated events, I came to realize that, for the first time since sophomore year of college, I’m not sure about my career. I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology; I’m working towards my master’s in clinical mental health counseling. I have plans to open up an online therapy clinic. I’m passionate about mental health and wellness, so for all intents and purposes, it should be a perfect fit.
But something isn’t right. I can feel it. And, granted, it could be anxiety, just as it could be cold feet. When I was in Indiana last summer for my intensive, my professors mentioned several times that most students “doubt” their way through the program. It’s not something to take lightly, the mantle of clinical mental health counselor. And given the emphasis my textbooks put on self-knowledge, is it any surprise that I’ve started to wonder if I’m actually cut out for this?
There are so many factors to consider. My relationship with mental illness. Health insurance. The viability of online counseling. Earlier this evening, I sat at my parents’ dining room table and said, “I’m not technically supposed to be alive right now. Can I really justify spending the next five years of my life in pursuit of this when I’m not even sure it’s the right call?” Every breath I take is a breath that was stolen. I can’t afford to waste any more.
As I write this, I keep scrunching my nose. There’s a headache building behind my eyes; evidence of stress, anxiety, and tension in my body. An hour or two ago, I sent my adviser an email and asked if I could pick his brain. There are no answers as of yet, but as I settled in to write this column, my survival playlist vibrating through the base of my Google Home, LAYLA sang about holes: “Yes I’m ready, I’m ready for now … “
I don’t know what the future holds. But I’m ready for whatever this moment brings. That has to count for something.
Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.