Mar 072011

Monday marked two years since the start of one of the worst two-week periods of my lifetime. The University Counseling Center was tremendously helpful in assisting me through the transitions from pain and confusion into healing and understanding.

For reasons beyond me, individuals in our society see therapy or counseling as an indication of mental illness. To the contrary, if you see a physician for a twisted ankle, it does not mean you qualify as disabled. Sometimes life events just become overwhelming.

Two years ago, I broke up with my girlfriend of over a year.

The week of the breakup, Ice, my 6-year -old Siberian Husky, went in for neutering after I finally grew tired of dealing with two in-tact dogs for weeks when Storm, my female, went into heat twice a year.

Ice was my first dog. He came to me after bouncing between three homes before he was six months old. He was with me through marriage, divorce, moving to and from Massachusetts and everything in between.

Everyone thinks their dog is the best ever, except my friend Melissa. Her dog Sadie may very well have been spawned in the seventh circle of hell, but Ice was different from virtually every husky I have met before or since.

He experienced a multitude of adventures, some with Storm, some without. One memorable night he and Storm escaped the yard, Ice jumped into an animal control officer’s truck –– the officer had just opened the door to attempt to capture Ice when the blue-eyed beast flew over his lap into the passenger’s front seat ready to go for a ride. Ice, as his name suggests, was very cool.

While I dealt with the emotions of the break-up, Ice recovered from his operation.

He had finally recovered enough to spend the days outside with Storm and when I returned home from Sundance on a Friday night, I brought them into the house for the night and put them both in their crates around 2 a.m.

I woke up strangely early for a Saturday, around 8 a.m. and went to the garage to let them out.
Ice was dead.

The pain of that memory is no less breathtaking today than that morning. Nevertheless, what followed felt like a stress test from hell.

Through a combination of factors I found myself drowning and mostly socially isolated.
I remain grateful to this day my roommates and parents were as supportive as they could be under the circumstances.

After talking to my parents several times and making some phone calls, I took Ice to Loveland for cremation.

Two years ago Wednesday I went through the intake process for the Counseling Center after realizing I was on a dangerous path. I had not slept well in the days prior, I had mid-terms and I was not functioning well.

While I could not immediately be seen, alternatives existed. I ended up seeing my physician the same afternoon. She assisted me pharmaceutically until I could see my therapist.

After spring break, my counselor and I determined I was dealing with as much pain from relationships as anything else. Thus, I began group sessions as well. I benefited significantly from both.

For whatever reason, in our society people will seek medical treatment for anything from a runny nose to a broken nail, but when we hurt inside, when our thoughts turn dark for any reason, when life throws us a screwball, we put a stigma on seeking therapy as if those receiving treatment are weak.

If you find yourself dealing with more than you can handle – and I do not mean wait until you become suicidal, sometimes it’s just too much to deal with and remain functional – go to the University Counseling Center.

It takes more strength to swim than it does to drown.

Seth J. Stern is a senior journalism and sociology major. His column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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