River rafting in Estacada

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The last three weeks have been torture for me trying to get back on my feet. I am slowly moving again and creating a structure for my life. My friends, family, school advisers and work teammates are supporting me though out this tough time. Last weekend, I made no plans nor did I want to do anything.

However, a friend encouraged me to go with him on a trip. He assured me that this trip would put things into perspective and bring me back to reality. There was nothing to lose, so I took his offer. So we started packing what appeared to be camping gear and had one more thing to obtain: dry suits.

I was not aware that the Outdoor program at PSU rented out gear. Being a student, I was able to get two dry suits for $50, a bargain when they are worth up to $300 a piece. Early the next day, we were off to Estacada in gloomy and rainy weather.  We arrived to a scene of people, kayaks, rafts, dry suits, wet suits and gear along the river.

We immediately parked on the side of the road, dressed down to a T-shirt and shorts, put on our dry suits, helmet, and life vests and we were off to find his friends. Upon finding them, without hesitation we got a raft, carried down to the river, and got in to raft downstream.

My heart pumped and my senses were on full alert. All I could think of was not to fall out of the raft into the river. The water was freezing hence the dry suits we had to keep us not only warm but alive. The rapids were strong and I tried to literally bury my feet into the wedges of the raft and held on to my paddle for life.

Downstream, we hit stronger rapids, being pushed from side to side, the water pouring down on us, as we tried to maneuver through without falling out or flipping over. Everyone around me was unnerved.  I was hoping I would not fall out. After what seemed an eternity of freezing water and near heart attacks, we rafted and finished in calm and safe waters. This trip was much needed for me even if it distracted me from the world of depression that I was in and still am in.

Portland State is More Than a School.

Bosc-Pear-Harvest-BinThe first university I visited during my middle school years was Portland State. I vaguely remember seeing the Smith cafeteria and the Broadway computer lab. At the time, I was curious about attending college, but by my freshman year in high school, I knew I was going to college. I had no school in mind, but I was determined to enroll with or without financial aid.

During my senior year in high school, I made a trip to Phoenix, Arizona. All of my mother’s side of the family moved there a decade ago. A cousin of mine was attending Arizona State, and she suggested that I should enroll there. I visited the enormous campus and was excited at the idea of leaving Oregon for something different. Ultimately, I chose to stay and enroll into Portland State for financial and family reasons.

I had come to the conclusion that I simply could not afford to attend Arizona State. My lack of knowledge about financial aid blurred an opportunity for me to go out of state. I had worked hard in my rigorous classes in high school and had harvested pears and cherries during the same time. However, many low-income people of color do not have access to a solid education let alone higher education.

I have been fortunate and privileged to have both. Portland State and all the institutions of higher learning are more than just a mascot, brand or colors. They are the places where we should gain knowledge, develop our skills, and empower ourselves. It has been a journey for me to mold a better life and to give back to my family and community.

You Are Not Alone

For the longest time, I felt that no one could ever really understand my troubles. We all have issues, concerns, and problems, but I felt I was on my own. I am the first one in my family to attend a university, and this tends to be a bit overwhelming and exciting for most students. Yet, over time I kept feeling frustrated, lost, and even sad. I simply didn’t know what was going on with me. This kept happening for a while and it got worse.

It wasn’t until I had several panic attacks that my family and I knew something was wrong. Our family doctor knew what was going on. He diagnosed me with Anxiety Disorder. I was a bit relieved to know what I had yet; my symptoms persisted even after getting on medication. Time passed by and I started to feel better.

However, I just had a recent panic attack. It has been over a year since I had one. I realized that I needed to take care of myself better by getting professional help and by reaching out to everyone I know. I was relying on my medication too much, and hadn’t developed a support system. This is critical for a well-rounded and healthy recovery and growth. I advise everyone to reach out for support from everyone they know and to go to SHAC or any medical center to get professional help. You are not alone, there is help out there.