Kelly Counselor's Conversations

A discussion about life and how school counseling fits into it all

It’s Not About Me, It’s About Us

on May 6, 2016

When I have a student rush into my office having an panic attack, I’ll admit more often than not my mind immediately rushes back to my twenty year-old self. But in my profession, I have to remember that it’s not about me.  It’s difficult. 

20 is when I had my first panic attack that began a now 13-year struggle. 

With May being National Mental Health Awareness Month, I felt called to speak publicly for the first time about my diagnosis and life I live with Panic Disorder. Much of the help I received led to my passion of being a school counselor today. 

I had my first panic attack in Indianapolis at the RCA Tennis Championships in 2002. Excited to eat in the player’s lounge, I suddenly felt the urge to vomit and had to leave. Right now. Sitting in the bathroom stall after not getting sick, I chalked it up to having the flu.  I was afraid to eat for the rest of the day. 

A year later, other than commuting to college classes, I rarely left my house and was afraid most nights I would vomit my dinner. I would force myself to eat, deathly afraid to lose weight.  A pretty vicious cycle. I refused to go to restaurants and if I did, panicked internally the entire time. 

I thankfully went to counseling and with this in conjunction to taking an antidepressant was able to begin to live a normal life, until the next big life stressor came.  I then reverted back to my old phobias and habits.  Living in an apartment for the first time.  Getting married.  Deciding to have a baby.  It was a tough day to have to admit to my husband that I needed help again after cycling in and out of panic for a week.  

I am thankful to not have a major episode now for three years, but know the struggle is real and life-long.  When I think of all I’ve accomplished as an adult, I’m amazed.  

If you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, or any other mental impairment affecting the quality of your life, the hardest but best step is to ask for help.  Help comes in many forms for many types of people.  Just acknowledging it and being honest is such a burden relieved.  Just as all of us are, have been, or know someone affected by cancer, so too it is with mental illness.  You are not alone.  I can at least guarantee you have me.  

See President Obama’s NMHAM proclamation here:


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