I’m finally achieving what I always said I was going to achieve
Dina, a successful television and radio producer, knew she wanted to be involved in entertainment from an early age.
When I was a kid, whenever an awards show was on, I would tell my parents, “I’ve got to watch this because that’s going to be me one day.”
My parents would humor me. However, my grandfather inspired me. He was a musician. He never got a conventional job, but he made it work as a musician and he was successful. His passion for music and the arts was infectious.
Dina faced significant obstacles to her ambitions, however. In childhood, she began to experience anxiety. By middle school, she was having suicidal thoughts. She tried to push them away.
And the more I pushed those thoughts and feelings away, the stronger they grew.
She went to therapy but was too afraid to speak up about her feelings.
When I was younger, I was a big people pleaser—even in therapy. In sessions, I would keep the conversation very light. I was trying to make a friend more than I was trying to deal with the issues I was having.
Dina’s challenges intensified when she started college at age 19. Her anxiety became overwhelming. She developed persistent headaches. She dropped out after her first semester to live at home, but her emotional pain increased to the point where she no longer wanted to be alive.
At that point, Dina’s parents placed her in treatment at a series of mental health treatment centers, including McLean Hospital.
I spent years in denial that I had a problem. I was so young that I just wanted to have fun. I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to do, even in treatment. That’s why so many places let me go. Once I finally grasped what was going on with me, I realized I had to get into the deep stuff.
Dina was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and schizoaffective disorder, which she now manages with therapy and medication. Over time, Dina learned to manage her emotions.
Therapy has absolutely saved my life. I recommend it for anyone, even if they don’t live with a mental illness. It’s just so cathartic to be able to “offload” onto a mental health professional. This type of offloading can be very overwhelming to your friends and family members, who may not know how to handle your emotions.
After hard work and effective treatment, Dina returned to college at age 32. She worked at the college’s radio station and earned an associate degree in communications and media studies, graduating with honors.
Five years later, she decided to earn her bachelor’s degree. She remembers walking onto the Boston College campus that first night, embarrassed by her lack of conventional achievements at 37 years old.
I was immediately accepted for who I was and what I brought to the table. This gave me a level of confidence and self-pride that I am so grateful for, even to this day. I would tell myself, “One day at a time, one class at a time.” And, finally, I got that degree.
Over the years, doctors urged Dina to consider low-stress employment, but instead, she chose a fast-paced career.
She is currently an associate producer for GBH in Boston and a creative executive for an Emmy award-winning comedian. She still struggles with symptoms, but continues to manage them with therapy, medication, and self-care.
It’s been almost a 20-year battle for me. And I’m finally achieving the things I always said I was going to achieve. I am so lucky to have an extremely supportive family.
I want people to know that even if you don’t see it in the moment, there are always people who love you, people that value who you are and would be at a complete loss without you here.