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  • Writer's pictureKaitlyn Widener

Words of Reflection


Writing is hard when you’re in a poor mental state. It’s not that I haven’t tried putting pen to paper or opening my laptop and starting a Word document. But I’ve done that only to close the device and tell myself I’ll try again another day. I just could not find the stability I needed to write, the stability I needed to share my highs and lows. Even now, this update comes as a struggle. It has been months since I have even thought about making a post, months since I’ve opened a single one of my manuscripts to actually work on them. The ‘sophomore slump’ extended for much longer than I believed it would. That being said, I write that with the intention of full transparency. I’m going to be real with anyone who may read this in order to be real with myself.


Sharing private things in my life has always come with immense effort. Either I am trying to trust someone, or I am oversharing with those I feel close to. The boundary blurred the more I had to deal with during my sophomore year. I mentioned getting a therapist, a decision that came with difficulty because of my distrust of people. I still go to therapy visits. I need our weekly sessions to unpack the things I go through week by week. However, seeing a therapist has come with the expectation that now that I have one, I can’t talk to my friends about my issues. That is such an unhealthy mindset to have. Now I know I can’t rely on my friends 24/7. They, too, have lives and terrible things they must navigate, but thinking my problems are a burden to the people who have told me they care about me time and time again is an exhausting issue. I care more about what they might think about me than what I know they do. I have shared that thought with a few of my closest friends, and they’ve assured me that I can come to them. However, I have found that writing is my way of processing. So, here’s a post written with the intention of healing.


I have no intention of making people uncomfortable. If reading about issues of sickness, periods of bad mental health, and a few other difficult topics are triggers for you, please read no further. This post is intended for me to get things off my chest. I don’t care who, or who doesn’t, read it.


My sophomore year was incredibly difficult. Academically, I struggled more than I ever had. Mentally, I was worse off than I’d been in a while. Therapy helped, but even some things I couldn’t let myself talk about. I’d rather not cry the entire appointment. I know it is something I need to get over, but that will come with time. Instead, the things I failed to talk about in-depth with my therapist, I decided to write about here.


My mom is sick. Her ailments make her miserable and constantly in pain. The rheumatoid has recked her body, and the woman she was is marred by the painful progression of the disease that will bind her to a wheelchair if it doesn’t kill her first. I lived with a minimal understanding of her sickness my entire life. As a child, I could not fully grasp the concept of being in constant pain, of pushing your body past its limits every. single. day. to raise two rambunctious children and give them a good life. I learned patience at a young age and knew the ins and outs of the hospital system. I watched my mom fight and win some struggles, only to have more of her independence taken away from her. She’s only still standing due to a willpower I will never be able to muster. There are some days my mom and I don’t get along, days where the pain has clouded her judgment made rash decisions, and spewed harsh words, but I know she loves me, and for that, I am forever grateful.

My dad is sick. It is something I’ve only shared with people who are very close to me. People in my parents’ community, their church, and the neighborhood are aware of his sickness, but they do not know the extent of his progression. I am in no way ashamed of my father. That is something I want to be clarified. His disease is debilitating, and it’s progressing much faster than I hoped it would. I believe I’ve kept his diagnosis mostly to myself with the idea that it makes it less real, a figment of my imagination. I think he still knows me. I know he still loves me. I just don’t know how to navigate grieving a man who is still alive. I feel that his official dementia diagnosis had to have been the worst thing I’ve had to deal with this past year. It getting worse doesn’t help to numb the pain. I miss the man my dad used to be and saying that breaks my heart. I’ve learned a new level of patience throughout this trial. My compassion has an immersible high. I like to believe it is something my dad would be proud of me for, especially if I could talk to the version of him that I lived with less than five years ago. He will forever be the man who raised me. Some days, it will just take him a little longer to remember it.


I changed my major. While plenty of people know, and it’s not something I am trying to hide, the thought process behind it was strenuous. I gave up the life path I’d decided on in junior high to be an English major. Out of all my friends, I was the only one who wasn’t either a STEM or business major. Changing my major felt like I was giving up on my dream of being an author. It felt wrong. However, I was making the change out of pure desperation. My major-specific classes were horrible. I did not want to go to class. I was writing papers on the same topics I had researched and learned about freshman year. I was horribly bored. Not to mention the language classes were absolutely kicking me. I was struggling to keep my grades at a C for the entire year. I barely passed my second-semester French class, and I honestly believe my professor gave me grace when he graded my final. Changing my major came down to one decision. Either I make the switch, or I drop out.


I am now a theatre major. While I am still a tad bit embarrassed to tell people, I preface with it not being a career choice but rather a choice that will let me graduate. My English credits now count towards a minor, and if I work hard this next semester, I will stay on the honors track. While I’m not 100% certain I will graduate with honors, the early enrollment period is a plus for the moment. Besides that, I’m looking forward to my classes. While I do not know if I plan to pursue an acting career, it is always something I enjoyed in high school. Who knows, maybe I’ll renew a passion and land a role in something. For the time being, writing will always be something I have, even if my path changes. I know there are stories for me to tell. I might just have to wait until they’re ready to be shared.


Before this update gets impossibly long, I will end with moments that may or may not get a separate post sometime down the line. I always want to close out on a positive note because even through the rough times, there has been good in my life as well.


Good moments to highlight:

- I got published in one of my university's magazines.

- I got a boyfriend.

- I moved in with two of my best friends.

- I was able to travel for work (all expenses paid).


Despite the ups and downs, I think I’ve grown a lot in the past few months. Being mostly independent is extremely difficult, and if no one else is proud of me, I can be proud of myself. I know my hard work so far has paid off. But before I sign off, I leave anyone who has read through this dump a piece of advice.


If you are struggling, please reach out. This blog is a way for me to get my thoughts out of my head, but I also want to use it as a platform to help others know they are not alone in their struggles. I have had a rough few months, but I have overcome many of my hardships. If I can do it, you can too. As always, my inbox is open; please reach out if you need someone to talk to. I want you to know that someone does care.


National Suicide Prevention Hotline


800-273-8255


OR call/text:


988






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