Becoming Vulnerable: In the summer of 2013, I had returned from school to visit my parents and little sister who were living in Chicago at the time. My parents had a trip to go on and I was to watch my little five-year-old sister for the weekend. Besides a couple part-time jobs, I had not received much experience in looking after others. I did not expect it to be too difficult of a task until an event happened.
On a Sunday afternoon, we had been riding our bikes around the neighborhood. We had taken a route through an alleyway when I car began to pull out. My sister was about 30 feet in front of me and did not see the car coming, and the driver didn’t see her. I sprinted on my bike and was able to slam my hands on their rear window before they could hit my sister. She was inches and half a second away from being hit, but she was safe.
The Aftermath: After this event happened, I had begun experiencing symptoms of PTSD and started having unexpected panic attacks almost daily. I begun having nightmares every night that kept me from getting a full night of sleep and I developed a fear of driving or even being inside of a car. This had never happened in my life before and it begun to take a toll on my daily life. With this vulnerability, I began to seek help.
It was difficult to accept my newfound vulnerabilities at first. There is so much stigma towards seeing a therapist or psychiatrist. I didn’t want to be seen as a crazy person. Realizing the need to live my life with this vulnerability helped me accept the fact that going to therapy and seeing a psychiatrist would be beneficial in the long-run.
I begun to see various mental health professionals in order to get back into the swing of things and live what I called a normal life. I did not want these mental health problems to define me or prevent me from enjoying my life. I was determined to overcome these obstacles.
Into the Jungle: After six months of treatment, I felt comfortable riding a bus. This enabled me to explore job opportunities that I was limited to with my fear of driving. It wasn’t easy. I had a few mistrials where I experienced panic attacks on the bus at first but I kept working with mental health professionals to limit these occurrences. This cemented the idea that I would have to live with my vulnerability, even if it made my life more difficult. I was determined to make it work.
I eventually became able to ride the bus and even my car to get wherever I needed to go. I would not have been able to do it if I didn’t seek help and find ways to accept and live with my vulnerability. I landed an internship at a refugee resettlement agency working with a case manager. I was able to start having a normal life again, albeit with my vulnerability of blistering anxiety.
Getting By: Today I still experience nightmares every night. I still have trouble getting a full night of sleep. I still have anxiety occasionally when I’m driving after seeing someone almost get in a wreck. I get nervous and will experience a panic attack walking in high-traffic areas when someone nearly runs into me.
With all these vulnerabilities, I am able to work through them. I work through them in order to enjoy my life and fulfill my life goals. If I let them define me and make me complacent, I wouldn’t be able to make it through life. Being able to cope with my vulnerabilities has helped me mature a great deal and provides me with pathways to get through other vulnerabilities that will come up in my future life.