September 29, 2022
Real Stories: On Pursuing Passions & the Impact of Internal Dialogue
By Samantha, a Therapy Notebooks Customer
Question: In a few sentences, how would you describe yourself?
I’m Sam, and I’ve lived in New York City for a long time. This city has really shaped me. I mostly see myself as an introvert, but living in such a bustling environment has pushed me outside of my comfort zone, and has challenged me to be more open and exploratory. I’ve worked in fashion for six years, but I don’t feel a strong connection to my work. I’ll actually be starting my graduate degree in counseling in 2023, and I’m excited to bridge the gap between what I’m passionate about and what I do everyday.
Question: In a few words, why is mental health important to you?
Mental health is important because we live in our heads. The hours we spend engaging with our inner dialogue is so long - and I know how hard it is to realize when that dialogue is not what we want it to be. Oftentimes, we don’t feel in control—whether that’s because of anxiety, depression, or overwhelm—and at the same time, we also don’t feel like we can reach out for support. At the end of the day, the most important realization for me has been: we don’t have to live like this; and we’re not alone.
Question: Share with us your mental health journey. What are some of the biggest moments that have been pivotal for you?
In high school, I had my first mental breakdown. It was the first time anyone had told me, “This isn’t normal—you should probably see someone.” Up until that point, I hadn’t realized that you could actually get support for fear and anxiety. I didn’t have to carry these difficult emotions all on my own.
In college, I witnessed my study abroad roommate and close friend struggle with suicidal ideation. On the outside, she seemed like she was having fun; but her internal world was vastly different. It was the first time I had to advocate so persistently for someone else’s mental health—I found a free university therapist resource for her, and witnessed my friend actually feel better over time. Because this experience was so traumatic for me, I also started seeing a therapist for the first time in a long time, and learned the importance of seeking out help. That help actually works.
In more recent years, I’ve struggled with anxiety as I weathered family struggles, career confusion (and crisis), and life transition - but through it all, it’s been incredible to recognize that I do have a mental health support system, and that I can ask for help whenever I need to. This has been my biggest breakthrough, and it’s helped me navigate the past few years with confidence.
Question: How has Therapy Notebooks positively impacted your mental health? What insights and takeaways have been most helpful to you?
Therapy Notebooks has equipped me with the power of recognizing that I’m having a daily dialogue, and that I have the ability to influence what that dialogue is. The truth of the matter is, one hour of therapy each week is not enough. Having the mental health tools to help with my anxious thoughts puts me back in the driver’s seat to live my life in the way I want to.
Having The Anti-Anxiety Notebook has actually helped prevent some anxiety attacks. In moments where I sense my thoughts spiraling out of control, I’ve been able to pull out my notebook and go through the structured process of identifying what I’m feeling and why and challenging the thoughts that exacerbate the negative emotions.
It’s the most comforting thing to have a resource that I can go to whenever I need it. Instead of feeling like you’re at the mercies of life and your thoughts, I feel a sense of genuine relief knowing that I have the resources at my disposal to navigate inevitable difficulties.
Question: What’s a recent mental health “win” you experienced?
The context is: I’ve been at my job for four years, and I’m actually in the process of transitioning to pursuing a graduate degree in mental health counseling. I was hoping that before then, I’d be able to work a few more months before then. But as I was on vacation with my mom, my boss called me out of the blue, and told me that a coworker of mine was going on maternity leave, and that I needed to cover all of the work.
Usually, I’d spiral. Why me? Again? Of course this would happen to me. This is the worst. My mom reminded me that this situation isn’t something I can do anything about (especially on vacation!), and that I can be back in the present moment - even if I had just received un-ideal news. And the amazing part was: I actually enjoyed myself on vacation! Past me would have spent the following days stressing about my new workload, but present me was able to note my stress, and let it go. I was proud of myself—and I have years of practice and persistence to thank.