Krista took the train. She chose a seat in the corner, and sat down. Time moved, the train moved, but she stayed still. Somewhere between hills and ocean, she quietly opened her notebook. Her hand travelled across the pages, trembling on the edge but moving forward, with conviction.
When I first connected with Krista and had the privilege to read her writings, I was moved by the driving strength behind her vulnerability. Krista did not talk much, but she shined through the embodiment of her gifts. She was never late, always patient and unceasingly considerate.
At the beginning, the very idea of community connecting was overwhelming for Krista. Uncertainty was not tolerated and even talking about possible connections was a trigger for panic attacks. Despite these hurdles, Krista chose to move forward, with a plan.
We decided to start small and connected the dots. Within the first month, Krista created a blog for her writings and started sharing them with family and friends. We also started exploring local coffee shops and parks in New Westminster. Each time, Krista practiced travelling to a new location further away from her neighborhood than the last. She taught me the concept of a comfort bubble and how the word signified expansion and change. Comfort zone, she said, sounded so permanent and final. We celebrated from the small victories of travelling a few blocks further to big wins of crossing boundaries between cities. In the following three months, Krista’s journey drew a living map of resilience.
Building on the momentum of her breakthrough, we tackled the social anxiety of community connecting from a new angle. Central to our strategy was retaining the positivity of small wins to motivate big achievements. Our first small win was to find Metamorphosis, a meetup group that celebrates friendships between fighters and survivors of anxiety and depression. The first meeting was hard; Krista had a panic attack. Nevertheless, she stayed. Her win, her big win, was staying. Krista found belonging in the group through their shared experience, but more significantly she found a place in which her personal struggle became a contribution, a guidance to someone. This sense of purpose motivated her to stay, to show up and to contribute.
During one of our Friday coffee chats, Krista told me how happy she was when Daryl said he liked her Christmas gift. Krista and Daryl had been friends for 5 months through Metamorphosis and they often made plans to hang out on the weekends in downtown. From transit direction to advice on anxiety, Daryl had been there for Krista. She often referred to Daryl as her “safe place”, a friend with whom she entrusted her stories.
“Life takes work, being takes work.” Krista wrote on her blog. I always asked Krista what kept her going when the “work” got hard. Krista’s struggle with anxiety is still very much her reality, but her answer always comes back to “positivity”. Her story refuses to remain in her notebook; it becomes a gift that inspires.
Contributed by: Linh Pham