And. Still. I. Rise.
Tattooed on my left arm is part of the famous poem by Maya Angalou "And Still I Rise." In between each word is the EKG sign symbolizing each heartbeat that I take to help rising. It is there to remind that through it all, I still will rise. I guess everyone's tattoos have some meaning to them; however, I like to think mine is incredibly unique.
it came at a time in my life when i was not only tired of rising, but I was also tired of living. But yet, here I am.
I look at my arm every day as I get dressed for the day--the day that I have an inward battle even to attack. By the time I arrive at campus, I have probably already had many motivational speeches for myself about how I can conquer the day. And when I am sitting in class, seemingly attentive, I am having an inward battle over my adequacy of being a graduate student.
I am sure no one would even notice this about me. I have mastered the technique of having my insecurities cloaked in humor and sarcasm.
This is my daily routine. The fear of not belonging is crippling and causes me to have low self-esteem. It is a vicious cycle. The average person may have some bout of "imposter's syndrome," but that is where we differ. My "imposter's syndrome" is rooted in a deep anxiety of literally everything. And that anxiety being rooted in a deep depression. Like i said the cycle is pretty damn vicious. As I go round and round this mountain so to speak, I still have to perform in the classroom.
Do not get me wrong, I am absolutely positive that everyone has some type of problem--whether it be physical, emotional, or mental. However, there is not a safe place to discuss those problems that are caused by mental illness. For example, I had a professor ask me "if you have anxiety now, how do you think you will survive a doctoral program?!" I never thought that my general anxiety disorder would be used against me as a barrier from my dreams and aspirations.
The point is, through it all: And Still I Rise . And now I have created my own space that is free of judgement and condemnation. Maybe as I chronicle my journey through graduate school and life in general with an anxiety disorder as well as major depressive disorder it will help those who struggle, know that there is hope. And if my story cannot be used as a symbol of hope, maybe a teaching tool. A tool that informs people what it is truly like to live with anxiety and depression. Maybe it will help them love their family member, friend, wife/husband, or girlfriend/boyfriend through their pain.