Mountain Valley transformed my relationship with my anxiety. I entered the program just having finished my senior year of high school. The combination of “senioritis,” (or a lack of motivation), with my perceived need for perfection and academic validation drove me to stay up past midnight daily. This downward spiral of less sleep, triggering more anxiety leading to more procrastination made school miserable. My anxiety had begun to transform from a general sense of worry to a debilitating force that drove me into my first major depressive episode.

I spent 76 days at Mountain Valley during the summer of 2019. I quickly realized that, in addition to psycho-education, group therapy, family therapy, and individual therapy, each of the modules provided residents with the opportunity to branch out and live fully. Not despite, but rather alongside their anxiety. I fell in love with the outdoors; I could focus only on the mountain’s trail, and on the beautiful landscape around me, providing a healthy escape from my worries I had left on Mountain Valley’s campus.

My first stay ended just in time for me to begin classes at Stanford University. I had let my academic anxiety decide for me rather than continuing the treatment I needed. I returned to Mountain Valley only two months later. Having already committed to a year off of school this time, I could focus entirely on treatment without having to worry about meeting a deadline, which ultimately allowed me to push myself harder in therapy.

I am now a second-year nursing student at Georgetown University. I have and always will use the skills I learned at Mountain Valley. The words “Sit with it” will forever remain close to my heart. No matter how hard nursing school is, academically and emotionally, I have everything I need to thrive. It was ultimately when I decided to try my best and radically accept the outcome that I found a restored sense of happiness. As my first Mountain Valley therapist, Phoebe, always said, all you have to do is breathe in, breathe out, and don’t die; the rest will work itself out.