Moving Forward While Looking Back

January 31, 2022

By Kirah Horne

Kirah Horne, 22, is completing her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and French and she plans to earn a Master’s degree in Licensed Mental Health Counseling. She loves working with animals and supporting the LGBTQIA+ community

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Hi, my name is Kirah, and I am a senior in college. I am majoring in Psychology and French with a minor in Law and Justice. I want to become a counselor for LGBTQ+ youth and young adults. I am taking five classes this quarter, and I work part-time as a barista. On the outside I seem calm, collected, put together, and a little shy. I love doing special effects makeup as it gives me creative freedom and all my friends and coworkers know me as the person who loves Lady Gaga and will never say no to a drag show (or drag content as a whole). I’m bubbly and warm. I love animals, and I love everything about the nighttime.

The moon, the stars, the serenity that comes from gazing up at the endless void of sparkling beauty. I have a cat, Kodie, who is my best friend and knows exactly when I need him to be with me. I’m weird, I’m eclectic, and I love little trinkets. I even explored my identity and discovered that I am asexual in the process. It was liberating. Under all of this though, there is another person.

I put on this mask that says, “I’m strong, and I know what I’m doing.” The same mask makes it so I say that I’m doing completely fine even when I feel like I’m absolutely losing my mind.

Mental health is a journey. My goal here is not to scare anyone. I know and understand how it feels when things aren’t going the way you expect them to. I have learned that being someone with mental health disorders means that I must constantly work on my mental well-being and learn steps for self-care that help when I may not be doing very well. This is not a bad thing.

I am no stranger to the late nights hiding in my room because I don’t feel as though I have the mental capacity to interact with people or work on homework until the absolute last minute. I experience panic attacks regularly, and I get flashbacks due to the trauma I’ve experienced. Over time, I learned how my body reacts to stressful situations and found ways in which to reduce this stress. I know that it sounds scary, and trust me, it can be. I have found that learning to appreciate small things helps tremendously with keeping my spirits up.

It may seem odd, but I absolutely adore Squishmallows. They’re these stuffed animals that are round and have this soft velvety texture to them. They come in various animals and items (personally, I love the spooky Halloween ones) including cats, dragons, avocados, etc. I hug these whenever I feel that my anxiety is getting really high. I am someone who struggles with physical touch so hugging stuffed animals has always been a great alternative for me. I have also been known to cover myself in weighted blankets and watch music videos for hours on end. I get lost in stories and certain TV shows. A newfound joy for me is taking late-night walks. If I need to zone out completely, I will put on headphones and blast music that has a lot going on (i.e. Chromatica or ARTPOP especially).

All of these things help immensely, but they don’t do it alone. I have started going to therapy which I had not had access to prior to this. I have worked a lot on getting support from peers and opening up about mental health challenges. The first step is talking about it. I have preached this before, but it is so true. It helps to find comfort in media as well. I relate heavily to “911” on Chromatica and it helps me to know that what I experience isn’t something I’m going through alone.

The last time I wrote about my mental health, I was 18 years old and a senior in high school. I am now almost 22 earning a bachelor’s degree in a field that I am utterly passionate about, and I have learned so much. I think taking the time to reflect on where you started to where you are now is important because you never really know how much you’ve grown as a person until you do so. Experience isn’t everything, but it has taught me that being open about mental health and advocating for the things you are passionate about does wonders. I find comfort in helping others. It’s the small things. The little actions that make a difference every day.

All of this to say, you are not alone. You are never alone. I’m hoping that maybe reintroducing myself and helping you get to know me a little better will show this. No matter what, even if you don’t think you have anyone in your corner, I will always be here rooting for you and cheering you on.

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