Take a Breath

Learning to Trust and Appreciate Myself By Riley Mehl

Story Contains

When reflecting on my mental health, I often think of how it played a major role in forming every bit of my being--for better or worse. I’ve always struggled with anxiety and OCD, and looking back on my life I’ve noticed that I was always searching for a sense of control stemming from fear of the unknown. When these tendencies come out most is when it comes to achieving, as school was always something that I seemingly had the most control over. ​

"From a young age my confidence was always thoroughly wrapped up in my ability to achieve. By succeeding I could in turn receive the validation from others I could never give myself".

I have always thought that because of my mental illness, I was a compassionate, driven, and organized person. I have always thought that it was because of my anxiety and OCD that led me to find Design, and helped me obsess and prepare to get into my dream college and program. How could I hate something that has given me...everything? This was a horrible mindset, and because of this I never sought help until recently. I had yet to fail at something but had crippling self-doubt and convinced myself that unless I meticulously planned and prepared for every step I took, then this is as far as I would get. This led me to become extremely obsessive and I would hardly give myself a break from anything productive because if I failed--it was all my fault. Staying productive was the only thing that made me feel any sense of self-worth. I would pick at my hands until they bled and stay up until 2:00 in the morning just so I could fall asleep without drowning in my thoughts, and my panic attacks became worse as I almost passed out while driving one afternoon. I began to feel dissociated from the world as my mind attempted to protect me from it. In my deep search for control, I ended up feeling helpless and defeated.

It took a long time for me to learn (and I am still learning) that the entirety of my future doesn’t lie solely on my shoulders, and what I seek to control is actually what controls me. I’ve sought out support from friends and family, and it has made the world of difference. I am an extremely emotional person, and tend to fall apart very often. However, my mental illness is a part of me, but it does ​not define me.

"I am working to be proud of who I am without being perfect. ​I’ve found beauty in my intensity and feelings, and I am working to put that energy towards a more positive light".

I find solace in the practicality of Design (no matter how much it may stress me out in other ways), and in those I love. I am slowly learning to trust and love myself and the process of life, and that I am enough. One of my favorite quotes that reminds me to pause, take a breath, and let go:

"​I release myself of what I have been holding onto. I am healing and making room for all the good that’s still to come. I am open and invite abundance into my life".

When reflecting on my mental health, I often think of how it played a major role in forming every bit of my being--for better or worse. I’ve always struggled with anxiety and OCD, and looking back on my life I’ve noticed that I was always searching for a sense of control stemming from fear of the unknown. When these tendencies come out most is when it comes to achieving, as school was always something that I seemingly had the most control over. ​

"From a young age my confidence was always thoroughly wrapped up in my ability to achieve. By succeeding I could in turn receive the validation from others I could never give myself".

I have always thought that because of my mental illness, I was a compassionate, driven, and organized person. I have always thought that it was because of my anxiety and OCD that led me to find Design, and helped me obsess and prepare to get into my dream college and program. How could I hate something that has given me...everything? This was a horrible mindset, and because of this I never sought help until recently. I had yet to fail at something but had crippling self-doubt and convinced myself that unless I meticulously planned and prepared for every step I took, then this is as far as I would get. This led me to become extremely obsessive and I would hardly give myself a break from anything productive because if I failed--it was all my fault. Staying productive was the only thing that made me feel any sense of self-worth. I would pick at my hands until they bled and stay up until 2:00 in the morning just so I could fall asleep without drowning in my thoughts, and my panic attacks became worse as I almost passed out while driving one afternoon. I began to feel dissociated from the world as my mind attempted to protect me from it. In my deep search for control, I ended up feeling helpless and defeated.

It took a long time for me to learn (and I am still learning) that the entirety of my future doesn’t lie solely on my shoulders, and what I seek to control is actually what controls me. I’ve sought out support from friends and family, and it has made the world of difference. I am an extremely emotional person, and tend to fall apart very often. However, my mental illness is a part of me, but it does ​not define me.

"I am working to be proud of who I am without being perfect. ​I’ve found beauty in my intensity and feelings, and I am working to put that energy towards a more positive light".

I find solace in the practicality of Design (no matter how much it may stress me out in other ways), and in those I love. I am slowly learning to trust and love myself and the process of life, and that I am enough. One of my favorite quotes that reminds me to pause, take a breath, and let go:

"​I release myself of what I have been holding onto. I am healing and making room for all the good that’s still to come. I am open and invite abundance into my life".

Riley Mehl

Visual Communication Design student at UW, political activist, and hot-pocket enthusiast.

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