By Bina Davidson, Features Editor
When I think about the turning point in my life, one specific moment comes to mind almost immediately. I was in my room in my apartment in Soho where I had a huge mirror on the wall facing my bed. I got up one cold morning and looked in the mirror, as I usually did. But for some reason, I didn’t recognize the person looking back at me.
To give you some backstory to this life changing moment, I will trust you, my reader, with some personal aspects of my life. The year 2019-2020 was hell, to say the least. I had gone through some really hard moments, or weeks as I should more accurately say, and I came out of the year a different person. These changes happened slowly and unbeknownst to me. Those around me saw me become someone they did not recognize, but when they called me out on it, I denied that I was any different. I made excuses for every stupid decision I made and ignored their concerns.
I was always someone who suffered from some anxiety, but as the year went on, it became that much worse. I remember clearly the day I had my first panic attack in the school building. I was walking up the steps from the 245 cafeteria when my anxiety overcame me and I began to cry and shake on the stairs. My lungs betrayed me and I began to feel as though there was no oxygen left in the entire building to help me live another minute. I cried in my friend’s arms and she held me, calming me down, reminding me that I will be okay.
After this situation, I began to notice the increase of anxious feelings I had throughout the day with clarity. In the time following the panic attack, I went through many more depressive episodes than I had ever experienced. I think a part of me knew that I needed help, but instead of listening to that part of me, I did not listen to the feeling. On a daily basis, I chose to ignore my own mental health and stay in an unhealthy situation which was ruining my life. I was so far deep in it that I was more afraid of changing my environment than of who I would become if I stayed. And so, I stayed. Not only did my mental health rapidly decline, but my personality faded as well. I no longer did anything to help or protect myself. That was until I was forced into an awakening.
As many say, everything happens for a reason. I truly believe that and although I couldn’t see it at the time, what happened to me was a blessing. Unexpectedly, I was pulled from my terrible situation. All of the toxicity that was negatively affecting me was stripped away in one moment and I was forced to undergo withdrawal, in a sense. It was the hardest thing I had to experience, harder than the actual situation that was hurting me, or so I felt at the time. The next few weeks were spent in my bed, crying. My family, friends and loved ones tried their best to help me. They came up with distractions and extracurriculars, plus bought some good old chocolate which held me together for weeks. I am forever grateful to those who kept me afloat.
This brings us back to this moment that cold morning. As I stared at myself, mascara running down my face, I thought “Who the F am I?? Who have I become?? I miss just being me. I want to be ME, Bina Davidson.” I knew the only way to get back on my feet was to start fresh. I looked at myself and swore I would get through this. I would not only survive, but I will bounce back better than ever.
The most important rule I made for myself as I looked in the mirror was to be authentic to myself. I knew that I was never to lie to myself or stay in an unhealthy situation again. If I am hurting, I absolutely must do what I can as soon as possible to help myself. I learned that protecting others is not okay if it means that I will get ruined in the process. I began making slower decisions. I allowed myself to take the time to think about what was good for me, no longer including myself as the last factor in the decision making process. These steps may seem small, but for me, they were crucial.
Changing internally was the most integral part of the journey, but changing externally helped as well. I needed something tangible so that when I looked in the mirror, I was physically different than the poor girl I was before. I decided to finally dye my hair in the way I had always wanted. I also began to eat healthier and shed some pounds in a healthy way. I went on a shopping spree and changed up my look and felt confident.
After a few months, I finally found a therapist with whom I connected well with and was able to begin a more intensive healing process. Soon after I began therapy, I was diagnosed with anxiety, depression and PTSD. In order to help with my trauma and anxiety, I began a specialized type of therapy as well as medication which have been a huge help.
These diagnoses allowed me to begin another huge step in my journey. Forgiveness.
I wish I could sit here and share that forgiving myself was a huge accomplishment and I am past that stage, but alas that is not the truth. It has been the hardest step yet, but I know that it will allow me to finally end that chapter in my life and give me that final piece of closure I have been so desperately searching for. I know that what I had gone through was real, the pain that I felt and occasionally still do feel is coming from a real place. Knowing that my panic attacks from “minor” things aren’t me being dramatic rather my body’s response to trauma allows me to stop blaming myself for what I went through.
I look back to that challenging year and often wonder how I got to that place. I still have no answer to that, and I know that I probably will never get an answer. What I do know is that I rose above it all and got myself back to a place where I am incredibly proud of who I have become.