I started playing ice hockey at the age of 25. About four years after I started I took up goaltending. I loved it so much that in 2001 I decided I wanted to become a sports psychologist. I always knew that I wanted to go back to school to get my Masters, but it wasn’t until then that I knew what I wanted to study. So, I started doing research and came across a school called JFK University in Northern California that had a sports psychology graduate program that I was interested in.
Every year for about ten years I would request information on the school. Time passed and I procrastinated going back to school. I told myself that I just didn’t want to indebt myself again with student loans, but the truth of the matter was that I would constantly get derailed by my depression and throw my goals out the window. I would lose confidence in my ability to accomplish anything long term. I would also worry that I would be making the wrong decision and would regret going back to school. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to handle the school work.
But finally, in 2011 I applied to this graduate program. I went so far as to fly to California for an interview with the school. I got accepted into the program and was going to go. There was one problem, though. I had just started seeing this guy and I knew that if I moved to California that would be the end of the relationship. It was way too early for a long distance relationship to work out. Knowing this, I decided to forego school for the relationship.
For a couple of years I forgot about school and put all my energy into my relationship. But the desire to go to graduate school kept resurfacing. And in 2013 I found a program at Sofia University to study counseling psychology to become a licensed professional counselor. The school specializes in transpersonal psychology and this seemed to be the perfect match for me. So I applied.
I got into the program and was going to start school in January 2014, but in December of 2013 I had a miscarriage and was not mentally ready to go back to school. So I deferred my start date to the fall of 2014. I booked my flight to California for my first intensive in September 2014, but three weeks before I was supposed to go, I got extremely anxious and depressed and talked myself out of going. Again, I deferred my admission until the next year.
Finally this year I worked up the courage to start school. I made it to California in July 2015 for my first round of intensives. It ended up being a life altering event. I met six wonderful people that are like kindred spirits to me. I love them all. I love the program, too. It indeed is the perfect match for me.
It has been a long time coming. My bipolar symptoms have kept me as a spectator in life. I am finally a player and am happier than ever because I have a deep connection to my life and I feel like I am finally fulfilling my purpose. All those depressed and anxious days and nights that I have spent in my adulthood are the foundation of what I feel is going to be a thriving counseling practice. I have firsthand experience that I can use to help others feel better about themselves and their lives so that they don’t live under the umbrella of bipolar.
To read more from Mary, see her posts for IBPF here or check out her personal blog.