It’s okay to not be okay, coming to terms with needing help

Lucas Guzman, Columnist

Around three years ago, I experienced one of the most depressing times in my life.

Coming from the generation that graduated high school in front of a camera lens over Zoom, it’s easy to look back on my life and remember how things once were and how happy people could be. However, pre-pandemic life wasn’t entirely that much better for me either. 

Sparing the personal details, it’s easier to sum up my last semester of junior year in high school by attributing factors that most teens deal with during this time. Relationship struggles and friendship drama had led me to an already isolated experience within my life. When a pandemic had struck the world two weeks later, I truly started to hit my rock bottom.

It’s easy to look back on my problems and think to myself that these issues weren’t that bad compared to the struggles that other people faced. After all, I lost my father to cancer just a mere two years prior.

My father taught me the value of hard work, but always pushed the notion into my mind that my problems should be dealt with internally. As such, once he passed, I was still hesitant to express my emotions.

By now I was already bound to be automatically accepted to the only university I had ever dreamed of. All I had to do was make it through the year and go on to my higher education. Needless to say, my life could have been a lot worse. However, individual issues should never  be ignored.

It was during this dark time of my life that I had realized that being strong wasn’t about how much you could take. It was about knowing your limits. The only one pushing the narrative that I should hold in my emotions and not seek help was myself.

After I realized this, I decided to pursue the help I needed.

The difference between me pre and post-pandemic was night and day. I was able to safely communicate my problems with someone who understood me and never judged me. The one thing I needed was just a place to vent. Therefore, I bought a journal to keep my thoughts in. I still use one to this day.

With all the other personal help I had received, I felt better as an individual and as a friend. I am now among the happiest I have ever been.

The one fear I had was the hardest to break: the notion that I could just weather the storm and be okay was an incorrect notion built on toxic masculinity. Therapy isn’t only a tool used to fix one’s sadness. It’s also a method for someone to reach their full potential.

For those of you who are in a dark place right now, whatever it may be, never be afraid to pursue help. For those who are afraid, angry or even stressed, just know that it’s okay to not be okay. The only person whose love and admiration matters the most, is your own.

As individuals, we need to break the stigma surrounding mental health. That starts by taking the first step in understanding that one is never truly alone, and never being afraid to pursue help.

After all, it was this help that made me realize what I truly wanted to pursue as a major.

Guzman is a social work and sociology sophomore from Austin, Texas.