Date of Defense
Date of Graduation
When I first was able to identify that I dealt with anxiety, I was 18 years old. At the time, I didn’t know how to explain it, and assumed it was only because I was in an unhealthy relationship, after already having been in an abusive one. At the end of my third year at Western Michigan University, I suffered a mental breakdown and started counseling.
The process of counseling was difficult, because as I opened up more, I realized that I had spent a majority of my life stuffing down things that were actually anxiety symptoms, assuming that it was just a part of life. While learning to take care of myself, I found I was disconnected from many people I cared about because they either weren’t supportive of my counseling or weren’t contributing to the healthy patterns I was creating. I had nothing to help me cope other than my sessions.
I have always been a writer and found I could articulate on my emotions more through poetry or other writing, than I could while speaking. When I looked for comfort in some of my favorite poets, I found there wasn’t a poem for everything I was going through. It was then that I decided to change my thesis plans to a collection of writing on mental health: if nothing existed about the things I was struggling with in my mental health journey, I wanted to create it.
This collection of fiction and poetry covers numerous topics from my process of learning to take care of myself including the following: separation anxiety, compulsive control seeking at a young age, the effect clutter has on anxiety, overthinking, suicidal ideation, counseling, talking to family about mental health, panic attacks, fear-based depression, mental health in relationships, abusive relationships, healing, creating healthy habits, and accepting setbacks.
This collection created a healthier habit of expressing my feelings through something I am passionate about. My thesis defense was a public reading, the same way artists do a gallery showing. At the reading, I reflected on what some of the poems mean and how I wrote them.
Dunaj, Mikhayla, "Monkey Mind: Everyday Observations of Mental Illness" (2019). Honors Theses. 3212.
Honors Thesis-Open Access