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  • Writer's pictureAnn Yebei

Belated Mental Health Awareness Month and a Pleasant Spring

Updated: Nov 3, 2022

Diary Entry #2: Ending May


May has been a milestone. I graduated! Mum visited from Kenya alongside other family members in the US. I finished Spring term and wrapped up my Associate Instructor (AI) job. And my last, Summer, term started about a week after Spring term ended. It’s been a rush. I won’t lie and say it’s been easy- or terrible! Since the first week of May, when I graduated with my peers, I felt like my feet never touched the ground for long. The momentum was useful in helping me transition into Summer, and make more concrete plans for the rest of the year, but I was stressed for the better half of the month.

A white Man with dark brown hair in a quiff is wearing a white collared shirt against a white wall. With his head slightly inclined forward, he covers his face with white wildflowers in his hands, the white buds peeking out through his fingers.
Ambivalence: Gratitude and Anxiety

Some of the stress came from interest conflicts- between work and love. The hardest part of discipline is organizing time for activities that fill me and make me happy, not making myself do what needs to get done. Motivation can be cultivated. I can make that paper something I’d like to do- or am comfortable typing- for an hour. If I feel starved however, I will be self-destructive with regards to my academic work. Knowing this, if I slip in my time management and scheduling, I usually burn out in about a week. In this, it can be seen how important being self-aware and intentional in living is to experience a productive and fulfilling life.

Another stressor was the future. Future anxiety. Simple but relatable. I figure anyone in their 20's will be able to understand when I mention the “20's Crisis” or "Quarter Life Crisis". For those who don’t (yet): it’s a mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual transition period from youth into adulthood some undermine. With such change, stress is expected. I’m about to exit (for the foreseeable future) school for the first time and enter the workforce. I’m about to move out for the first time in my life (boarding school was a good foundational experience, but it doesn’t count) and own my own space. I’m open indefinitely, for the first time, to seriously finding a life partner.

As a young adult stepping into physical liberation, I’ve never felt freer as an individual. Not as a daughter. Or a student. Or a creator. Just as a person. And I’m excited to experience dreams I never could as a kid (I’ve always wanted to explore just how emo I feel via fashion and music) and build skills I didn't have the care to before (like makeup, filming, fashion, and more writing!). I’m healing, learning to love myself and embrace my self-worth, speaking to my parents about my childhood, and learning more and more and more.

About me. About life. About purpose. And about humanity and God.

And I’m psyched that’s one thing that will never end.

A tall image with yellow wildflowers at the bottom reaching for the open blue sky with light cloud cover
Mindfulness: Spring is here

There were a couple of days in the midst of those mad May days when I could slow down from academic work (due to lack of) and spend time doing non-academic things I was interested in, which I am grateful for. I also reflected on my growth compared to last Spring when I was studying and being an AI for the first time, and practiced gratitude. My closet has been re-arranged for the lovely Summer weather that is now here (yay!). I’m practicing mindfulness in noticing the flowering trees before they fall and become iridescent green leaves. I am living each day intentionally. And I’ve never been more self-aware as I witness myself transitioning into a different phase of my life and update my 2022 goals.

The weather changes aside, one of the highlights of May is my improved mental health practice. May was Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to raise awareness about the importance of mental health, self-care, and share ways to practice that. Of course, the conversation doesn't end with May and the topics should carry on year-round. I am more resilient than before due to the pressures of academia and needs to practice balancing personal wants and life needs for long periods of time.

· Daily yoga goals have been better kept; a goal in response to body tensions and pains from my desk work and overall somatic stress (my lower back and shoulders carry).

· Non-academic shots of happiness have been incorporated in my time management routines to motivate myself to hit academic and job requirements. My blog is one of them. Meaningful social media posting is another. Listening to podcasts via YouTube is also pleasant.

· At least one meaningful, deep, conversation with someone I’m 100 percent unguarded with each week, because Master's can easily consume your entire life with the amount of reading and paperwork asked for.

· My comfort zone and mastery in school, internship practice, and self-care, has expanded and grown while my future plans and preferences have shifted based on my wants and needs now compared to the past.

A dark wood table with 2 closed journals, 1 opened journal, a tablet, pencil, and half empty cupt of tea
Slowing down to Practice Gratitude and Reflection

This Summer is my last academic semester, so the stakes are high as an international student. There are many internship hours I have to clock-in to acquire my remaining credits alongside my last 2 courses. That’s one core pressure. I’ve been applying for work post-graduation to start accumulating hours for licensure as a Licensed Mental Health Clinician (LMHC) in America. So, I’m on a timeline with that as well. Add these 2 with the fact I started accumulating Summer hours about 2 weeks late, the amount of work being asked for this June is high. And I’ve said nothing about classes.

My future plan’s building blocks are slowly settling down so I can proceed forward but thinking long-term is challenging for me. It pressures me, choking the present me, and blocking me from doing anything now. So, the future never comes. Hence, bullet points and core needs are all I would chart out. Then I focus on the smaller steps to get to the future and evaluate what the new future needs at that time. Now, I need to finish Summer and get a job for Fall. Then, I’ll move out and focus on building my therapy and non-academic skills for work in Kenya as an independent practitioner in the future. Before, I felt I had to return to Kenya soon after graduating- if not after 1 year of OPT practice (Optional Practical Training). Now, honestly, I don’t mind practicing in America for 5 or 10 years. I can serve the world from wherever I am, and that service, is all I should focus on.

So, here’s to the rest of 2022 and continued personal development! Take care.



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