Jul 28, 2015


How I Saved Myself and My Career Through Self-Care

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Photo credit: Tramonto sulla Val Rosandra via Flickr

This post is going to be more personal than I’ve written before. But now that I am resurfacing, I thought it would be appropriate to do so. Many people know that I have been working very hard for a long time to acquire my graduate degree so that I can legally have my own clinical mental health private practice someday. I set that goal for myself immediately after 9/11. I knew it was where I needed to be in the near future because where I was no longer brought me joy. And 9/11 fundamentally changed my entire paradigm. I was at the Pentagon that day.

Starting Over

I researched and found the one school that was CACREP accredited, fit my lifestyle, and offered a clinical mental health counseling Master of Science degree. However, one requirement I didn’t have was an undergraduate degree in psychology. So I went back and obtained my Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and then started the very long journey of completing my Master of Science degree. I’ve finally finished. I now see myself obtaining my Doctorate in Health and Human Services degree sometime in the near future as well.

Facing My Darkest Hours

Along the way, I faced the dark and daunting case of severe PTSD and clinical depression of someone I love dearly. I faced skin cancer on my face. I faced possible breast cancer and I am still not completely out of the woods with that one yet. I faced my mother’s diagnosis of incurable cancer. I faced tenants who destroyed our Miami home and continue to believe they were the victims instead of us. I faced the typical “Queen Bee” experience at a place of work where the mission is supposed to be empowering women, and instead those women felt justified in trying their hardest to disempower me so that they can shine. I faced much more along the way, but this is enough to paint the picture.

All of these things eventually took a serious toll on me when 9/11 eventually came around last year. Instead of the usual darkness I would feel during that anniversary, I felt instead the desire to give up on everything I was pursuing. To just stop. Everything. But I didn’t. I went to see my VA counselor. She really gave me the tools I needed to take that last step. I was depleted at that point. So much had been thrown at me, very serious and debilitating things and I was beginning to lose my will, my passion, for all of it. In the end, I graduated and am about to take my national certification and licensure exam in a couple of weeks. I now work with an amazing group of colleagues who are the exact opposite of the people I worked with prior to them. We do amazing work for the community and support each other along the way.

Finding My Safe Haven In Self-Care

All of my projects that are near and dear to my heart were put to the side for as while and I am finally about to start putting energy into them again. I was able to do the self-care I needed to do in order to be successful and fulfill my goals and dreams because I took the steps to find help when I was pushed to the edge. My life long love did not give up on me and kept me mission focused when I couldn’t do it for myself anymore. My family provided me with a safe haven to come back swinging and allowed me to get back to being able to practice the things that I preach. The lessons I learned along the way are simple. We cannot be successful if we do not practice self-care. Self-care includes getting away from people who are not lifting you up and instead finding ways to hold you down. It includes professional counseling. It includes resting, talking, exercising, and sometimes stopping. In my entire career and personal life history I have come up against people (mostly women) who, over and over again, simply made the choice to not support me and figured out ways they could sabotage my goals and me. In the end, I never allowed any of them to keep me from remaining mission focused and fulfilling my potential the way I wanted to. If I could do that, anyone can. Stay mission focused, practice self care, and you too will reach your potential, as long as you do not give up in the darkest hour, you will succeed.

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Xiomara A. Sosa

Xiomara A. Sosa

Xiomara A. Sosa is Founder and Principal of XAS Consulting, LLC (XAS), a boutique hybrid private practice she founded in 2003 to integrate the role of mental health, physical health, and human services efforts in providing culturally competent services to the Hispanic, veteran and sexual minority (LGBTQQIA) communities and to first and second responders. Xiomara is a clinical mental health – forensic counselor, a nonprofit executive, a social change advocate, and a United States military veteran. She provides clinical mental health-forensic counseling; community relations; disaster mental health; healthcare advocacy; therapeutic life coaching; and service to the armed forces. Xiomara practices a progressive, innovative path to integrative health by combining mental healthcare, physical healthcare, and human services. As an integrative healthcare provider she works with individuals, couples and families of mixed ages and genders. She is bilingual (Spanish) and provides services in private consultation, by telephone or electronically. As a multicultural counselor her cultural competency is especially focused on working with the Hispanic, veteran, and sexual and gender minority (LGBTQQIA) communities. Full bio at http://xasconsulting.com/?page_id=195

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