mental health

Student Essay: How NYFA Counseling Services Helped Me

The following is a short piece written by Pooja Sudhir, a 2018 graduate of New York Film Academy’s Filmmaking in New York City. When she left NYFA, Pooja said she wanted other students to know what it was like to try therapy on our campus.

I moved to New York City in January 2018. I had just turned 22.

It was the first weekend of March, the initial excitement of my new life had died down and the that fact that this was my new routine had slowly started to sink in.

I came home after classes (I had Monday off and we didn’t have class until 3:40 pm on Tuesday) and it was the first time where I had no assignments that kept me occupied, and no distant relatives visiting me. It suddenly occurred to me that I knew no one apart from a few friends I had made at school.

The weather was bad for me to go and explore the city; most people seemed to prefer staying indoors. This is completely contrary to how my social life was back home in Bangalore, India. Keeping in touch with people back home was hard because of the time difference. It became less about communication and more about exchanging information.

By then, I had already started noticing that I had started to fidget—something I never did before.

I used to wake up every morning feeling extremely anxious for no specific reason. There was this constant physical stress I felt, constant agitation and restlessness.   

On that day, my left hand started to shiver. I am usually someone who respects personal space but, for the first time, I felt like I wanted to hold somebody’s hand. Even watching something on Netflix seemed like a task. That was the day I decided to write to NYFA’s school therapist, Jacky.

I didn’t really understand the reality of relocating to a new country until a few days after it happened. I constantly pressured myself to believe that I was happy and that I was okay, because I genuinely believed I had no reason not to be “okay.”  

My loved ones were extremely supportive of my decision to seek out help, so I had no inhibitions about reaching out. I started my journey wanting to address homesickness and through the process, Jacky and I touched upon many minute chapters of my life—stories and secrets that’ll stay safe with my therapist forever.

For anyone wanting to reach out, I’d like them to know that there is nothing wrong or weak about asking for help. Throughout my journey, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was okay to admit that I wasn’t okay. I was suddenly comfortable being vulnerable when I needed to be.

In my last session with Jacky, I promised myself that I will never hide the fact that I have reached out for help from professionals, and that I will always encourage my friends and family to seek out help when they need it, even if they have apprehensions about doing so.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and has been observed in the United States since 1949. New York Film Academy urges all students, alumni, staff, and faculty to prioritize themselves and their own mental health, and throughout May will host a series of events to both raise mental health awareness and provide a therapeutic outlet for those in need.