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After juggling life as a highly driven student-athlete for four years in undergrad and then working a full-time job while pursuing a master’s degree, I eventually reached burnout. I thought I could do it all – because I had for so many years. Unfortunately, I did not recognize how I always operated on a low battery. As a result, I ended up participating in a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), which I believe saved my life. You may be thinking, how did I end up there? Let’s start from the beginning.

I played soccer for most of my life and dreamed of competing at the collegiate level. In my junior year of high school, I committed to play Division II college soccer at a school in Western Maryland. I finished my senior year and trained intensively all summer before heading to preseason that August. Little did I know what would greet me on the other side. 

My freshman year soccer season did not go as expected—I lost my confidence on the field and doubted every move I made. I vividly remember avoiding the ball on the field because I believed I couldn’t make a mistake if I didn’t have it. During the spring semester of my freshman year, I started therapy and was diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. I struggled with feelings of embarrassment and shame as I felt that, as a student-athlete, I had a responsibility to represent my team and school at the highest level. A 2021 survey conducted by the NCAA found 30% of student-athletes felt overwhelmed, with 25% feeling mentally exhausted. I did not learn of these statistics until after I graduated. 

Fast-forward to graduation. I ended with a 4.0 GPA as a double major, editor of the student newspaper, teaching assistant in the Psychology department, and the first Academic All-American in the school’s Division II history. Everything looked perfect on paper—I thought I could do everything and anything because I had managed it in college.

After graduation, I moved to a new state and started a new job. For a year and a half, I worked tirelessly hard in and out of therapy to learn more about myself and heal. Everything was going well until it wasn’t. I clearly remember having a breakdown in front of my boss, who encouraged me to take the day off for self-care. That was my first sign of burnout. Eventually, the pressure of working full-time and returning to school built up, and I couldn’t handle it anymore. Thoughts I hadn’t had in years came back in full force, and I was terrified of my mind. This ultimately resulted in my psychiatrist recommending that I enroll in a PHP program. 

I was incredibly hesitant about participating in the PHP program as it was always my biggest fear. The first few days were hard – very hard, as I struggled to commit to the work it would take to heal. Each day was structured similarly: different topics were discussed in group settings, a group therapy session, and‌ an individual therapy session. I found group therapy to be the most beneficial as it allowed me to hear from others, share my own lived experience, and process my thoughts and feelings with others in a supportive environment. With the help of my peers and PHP staff, I learned to understand I was not alone – and that I could heal. 

After three weeks of participating in the PHP program, I was released and returned to work shortly after. It took me a bit to realize how much those three weeks had given me. A month after being released, I went to the Taylor Swift Eras Tour and remember hearing one of my favorite songs, surrounded by my best friends, and taking it in, realizing how happy I was that I put in the work to be there for that moment. 

Healing is hard, and it requires work. Sometimes, a lot of it, but what got me through is knowing I’m doing the healing work for me – because I deserve it. Hitting a low is hard, but from there, the only way to go is up.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call, text, or chat with the Lifeline at 988 or


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