I first met Ashly during college at IUPUI when we had a class together, but I hadn’t had the pleasure of calling her my friend until a few short years later heading to a Purdue University football game ( what are the odds, right? 😀 ).
In that short amount of time, she has inspired me so much with her incredible work ethic, and her equal parts cheeky sense of humor!
So without further ado, read below what empowers Ashly to persevere every day (:
When I look back at my life, I am extremely fortunate to say that I haven’t had any catastrophic or deeply scarring events happen to me.
However, I have dealt with mental illness, and I do know that everyone’s struggles are entirely different than the depression and anxiety I dealt with only a few short years ago.
In 2014, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety while I was a full-time student at Indiana University–to keep it short, I spiraled out of control feeling sick, numb, and sad for days at a time…and those days turned into weeks… and then those weeks turned into months.
Seeing a therapist only made me more upset, because I knew she didn’t understand (or just didn’t care), and my family, friends and roommates didn’t seem to understand, either. I just felt so frustrated that no one understood how terribly I felt.
But then several months into this deep depression, I stumbled into an unimaginable solution– change.
I had a mandatory appointment to speak with my guidance counselor right after the holidays to make sure I was on track to graduate, and she noticed that I wasn’t impressed with my time at IU during my second year at the Kelley School of Business.
After talking for several hours, from what should have been a half an hour conversation, we determined that I needed to switch my focus and make journalism my priority and my eventual major, and to make business my minor.
Then came the part that hit me like a train– She suggested that I transfer to IUPUI to enroll in their Public Relations program, a program that was not offered at IU Bloomington. I was outraged in the beginning, and I cried–a lot–I was scared to move to Indianapolis, but I also knew that I had some friends there, including my (now) fiancé, Thomas.
And so I did it.
During the months following leading up to this big change, I still had this strong sense of anxiety and depression. But I still decided to move my life to a new city, and I know I couldn’t have done it without the help of my parents, who wanted me to succeed, or Thomas, who wanted to make sure I was just happy.
With this change, I was able to focus only on myself and take on a lighter load of school work and still have a job on campus for some extra money.
And sure enough, day-by-day I was getting better—happier.
For me, knowing and believing there is an end to a continuous depression and constantly reminding myself of the things I am grateful for helped me overcome that heavy burden. Learning to take care of myself physically and mentally, by working out, coloring, watching my favorite movies and eating my favorite foods were all the things that I did to help myself.
Flash forward six years later, and I still deal with anxiety on some days, but I have persevered through all of the negative comments from my peers and family members. From “Why aren’t you happy? You have so much to be thankful for,” to, “Just don’t think about it,” and, “Take a bath and some deep breaths and it will go away.”
I had to make sure that I didn’t compare my successes and failures to other people, and because of this, I have persevered onto graduation and continue to work towards my goals.
I feel empowered when I think of the work I put my mind, and body through to get out of that deep rut. I have persevered to create the life I lead now, and I remind God (very often) how thankful I am to have overcome such a tough time in my state of mind and quality of life.
And in the end, it’s all about focusing on yourself, and doing what makes you happy.
Twitter: Ashly Kotaska