Summer Bummer

I have done nothing all summer but wait for myself to be myself again — Georgia O’Keeffe, in a letter to Russel Vernon Hunter, from Georgia O’Keeffe: Art and Letters

Summer vacations, like birthdays and New Years, have always been hard for me.
While I was in high school, summer meant my brother Justin and I spending 2 months with our dad- a week or two visiting family in the Bronx and the rest of that time staying at his house in South Carolina while he worked at the nearby Air Force base. Summertime was 2 weeks of nostalgia, good times, attention from family members who hadn’t seen me all year. Walking around with my cousin, taking pictures, eating coquito and piragua from the vendors to cool off. Summertime was also sleeping in until 1 PM, staying up all until 4 AM doing next to nothing, eating all day to pass the time, wanting to go out with old friends and sometimes old flames, but ultimately not being allowed out or being afraid to even ask.
Now, a junior undergrad, summer means working a part-time job, saving up just enough to pay for gas, late night fast food runs, and a fun outing every once in a while. It all seems pretty standard, and I convinced myself it was. Until I couldn’t, and ended up calling my university’s counseling center around early July, sitting in my parked car just a half hour before it was time for my shift to start. (Barely) holding back tears, I asked to set up an appointment my regular therapist, who I hadn’t seen since the two semesters prior. When I gave my name, it was met with an enthusiastic “Jasmine! I thought it was you, how are you?” Of course I’d called when the regular receptionist had stepped out, so my actual therapist answered my literal distress call. “I’m okay!”, I responded, choking back tears of mixed astonishment at the irony and embarrassment (of course I’m not okay, I need you, that’s why I’m calling!!!)
So that’s how I ended up paying out of pocket for emergency therapy sessions and forced myself to confront my summer blues (which was and is actually just my clinical depression and GAD going untreated for so long).  My mounting insecurities, unhealthy coping mechanisms, avoidant behaviors- all of this contributes not only to my worsening mental health but also to the repeated failures of my recovery. A lot of the time it feels like bad things that happen have the worst timing and it’s easy to catastrophize them when they do. With me specifically, lack of motivation is one of my largest setbacks in recovery; if I don’t feel supported by people around me or something happens that interrupts progress, it’s back to the bottom of the (misery) barrel for me. To combat this, I am going to try to be as consistent as I can continuing my therapy, practicing mindfulness, and staying true to the values I hold close to my personhood: honesty through vulnerability and strength through sincerity.
Inner turmoil aside, this summer hasn’t been all bad! Just this week I enjoyed a couple nights away at the beach with Bee, Ly, and her boyfriend. We’ve also gone to Carowinds amusement park, hiking at Hanging Rock State Park, and done a handful of other activities with our younger siblings and cousins. While it was easy to get caught up in the mundaneness of going to work and staying to myself, these little saving graces helped to keep me above water while I work through figuring out the rest. I’m hoping this blog will be a valuable tool for me in doing this, and that sharing myself in this way will advantageous for myself and maybe even for you, too.