BWW Blog: It is Okay To Take a Break
There's a lot of pressure when you want to pursue a career in the arts. That's been my experience at least. Because of that, I find the need to be on top of things and doing the best work I can all of the time. For awhile, I thought that meant not being honest with myself or other people about my mental health. I'm a huge advocate for talking about mental health and removing the stigma that kept me from reaching out for so long, so here's what I haven't been as open about as I probably should have.
Last semester, I had a tough time. I was entirely in my head and anxious about literally everything. I would be convinced someone was mad at me almost every day, and that I definitely failed an assignment (though each time I got the grade I had done just fine, and no one was ever actually mad at me, so I was terribly upset for virtually no reason). Sometimes, mental health hits a new low, and you might find yourself having to regroup. That's what I've been spending my break doing and it's not easy, but I'm getting there. Before, I relied too much on other people to bring me back up. That wasn't necessarily something I could help at the time, but it isn't an excuse either. It wasn't fair to them and friends are not therapists. Self-regulation is an important skill. It's the one I'm working on every day.
For me, being creative helps a lot. I've started journaling every day. It's not always traditional journaling. Sometimes, I write letters. Sometimes, notes as if I were writing a play about this (which I very well may be considering I'm about to take Playwriting next semester). I also have one with prompts to answer daily, and it's been a welcome distraction if I start thinking too hard. I'll work on music, revisiting earlier songs I auditioned with awhile ago and either replacing them or making sure they're fresh in my mind. I'll do anything I can to keep my mind active about something I love to do so it's harder for things to spiral, and that works!
That being said though, sometimes I just need to lie down. Sometimes I just need to cry it out. And I might also need some counseling and some medication. I used to be weird about that. Until very recently, I just about refused to consider medication for my mental health. I want to stress this to absolutely everyone, especially college students and especially those who have decided to pursue a career in theatre: take care of yourself. It is ok. There is no shame. Frankly, I wish I'd done it sooner. It's ok to need a minute. You will make better stuff, be a better performer or member of a crew or creative team, and, most importantly, you will be a better person if you love yourself to the best of your ability. Sometimes, asking for help is part of that. Do it if you need to. Take care of yourself.