Being a student, a student athlete and working a part time job all at once I started to feel pressure and began to become anxious about everything. I began to worry about everything from money, to managing my time, and always leaving my homework to the last second. There would be days where I would get to school at 8am and have class from 8am to 1pm. I would then head to the locker room after my 1pm class to get ready for my 1:30pm practice. Have practice from 1:30pm to 4pm then I would have to go from practice all the way to where I work and have work from 5pm to 11pm. I would wake up worrying about when I would find time to myself, when I would find time for homework and even find time to eat. It would be so hard to control my worries that I would wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to fall asleep because hundreds of thoughts would race through my head. This lasted for two years during college, my last two years of college. It got to the point where during a baseball game where I was pitching I had a panic attack in the dugout between innings. This is when I knew I needed to change and figure things out.
I knew I needed a change once I graduated college and finished playing baseball. I hoped that my anxiety would just go away and thought maybe that since I was done with school and baseball I just had one thing to really worry about and that was work. But that is when other thoughts and worries started to race through my head every day. You reach that point after graduating college where it is time to grow up and find that job. At the time I went to school for criminal justice but that did not turn out as I would have hoped. I started to worry about the tests that I would have to take and I would lose sleep over that plus I was still at my part time job so I would worry about that. Everything just was a worry, the worrying did not stop. Before taking my first police test I already had second thoughts about being a police officer and after my first test I knew being a police officer was not the path.
After this, the worry began to take over my life to the point where I would ditch my friends because I would just worry about everything. My parents did not know what was going on because I kept it from them, I really kept it all to my self. Then one day I was talking to my grandpa and brother-in-law about gardening and having a vegetable garden. I thought to myself that maybe having a garden will be great, growing plants from seeds and seeing everything grow would be interesting. So I went out and bought seeds, got the building materials and dirt for the garden boxes and got to work. This was the first time other then when I played baseball and would be on the pitcher’s mound that everything would disappear. It was a calm for me. I would spend an hour or two just in the garden, looking up ways to make the garden better, just watching the plants grow. It was relaxing no one would bother me, the worry about other things was gone. It was just me and the plants.
Then, if you would not believe it I decided to go and get my masters in counseling psychology and at the time I did not have the worries. It was the first time that I knew this was the right direction to go. Half way through my first semester the worries started to come back, school was a bit tougher and it was time to seek help. There were also other things in my life that were going on that made the decision easier as well. I found a counselor and began sessions. Just being able to go and talk to someone about what was going on and all the worries that were taking over helped. Just a few sessions in and it has been life changing. I have learned ways to figure out my worries through sessions, I have been talking about everything and more and it has been life changing. I am now almost half way done with my master’s program, I have started an internship where I feel comfortable and I am on year three of my garden and it couldn’t be better. I do not have the worries that take over my life, I am at a point where I can be me without the worries.
As a male it is hard to go out and find help. You are supposed to be seen as the strong one in the world, someone to lean on in a relationship. For some males it can be seen as weak to seek help but let me tell you, who ever said that is wrong. Seeking mental health care was the best thing that I have ever done. If you have those thoughts that since you are a male you shouldn’t seek therapy, take that stereotype out of your head. Seeking help and self care can better you and the people around you. Especially today with everything going on with COVID and people not working and the world not back to normal. If you are struggling with anything talk to someone. You will see that after one session you will want to keep talking and coming back.
If you are in the Chicagoland area and need someone to talk to Olive Branch Counseling Associates is here to help. You can get in touch by calling at (708)-633-8000.