Aerin Fink

By Aerin Fink

Aerin Fink, her therapist Ellen Tabak, LMSW and Baxter, the therapy dog

It started with the lice. After two months of camping, I had tiny bugs crawling all over my scalp. I knew all it would take to get rid of them was a shower cap, conditioner and a comb; but once it was all over, I feared what my friends would think after hearing I had lice.

The end of that humiliating moment was only the start of another. Obsessive hand washing. Putting clothes in bags. Constant showering. All to prevent a disgusting bug from landing on my head and controlling my body. During this time, I learned that I needed help.

After my traumatic head lice experience at age 11, my OCD began to surface. I feared contact with my own clothes, friends and family. My erratic behavior quickly became out of control; it was only a matter of time before my happiness dissipated. Some people lived their lives out of a suitcase; I lived mine out of plastic bags.

The longer I waited to tell my parents about what was going on, the worse it got. Because I was no longer able to function normally, my parents watched their little girl live a life of fear and discomfort. Day after day, I was faced with obstacles to overcome. While my friends were hanging out and having sleepovers, I was repeatedly washing my hands and analyzing my belongings to make sure they did not touch each other.

On a winter day in December, my parents told me that I was going to a therapist. A once-naive and anger-filled teenager walked into therapy. Little did I know that this unfamiliar place would become my safe haven — a place of expression and free of judgment.

A a 12-year-old girl having struggled with anxiety my whole childhood, therapy was the best choice my parents ever made for me. Throughout my life, I struggled with my temper; and leading into my teenage years, I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Little did I know this diagnosis would change my life forever.

After my first therapy session, a spark ignited inside of me: It was my time to make a change. I would learn to talk back to those stupid thoughts. During therapy, I learned how to think rationally and conquer my fears. My illogical and absurd thoughts were overpowered by realistic ones. I was finally learning how to cope with my mental illness. Without this coaching,  I never would have been where I am today: functioning, happy and healthy.

One important lesson I took away from therapy is to embrace the struggles of everyday life. As my therapist Ellen would always say, “You have to be uncomfortable to be comfortable.”

I received this piece of advice five years ago. It has stuck with me ever since. For this reason, the best advice I would give anyone is to get help, just like I did. Despite my nerves, I was able to speak to a therapist and get the help I needed. My once-irregular lifestyle has turned into one of a normal teen. Based on my own experiences, I encourage everyone to seek help, no matter how hard it may be. This, I believe, is the most beneficial change someone can make in her life.

Aerin Fink, 16, is a student at Cranbrook. She and her family attend Congregation Shaarey Zedek in Southfield.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Aerin – I love that you have the courage to share your story. It will undoubtedly help others who might be too afraid to speak up and seek support. From the work that you shared via your 8th grade project to the work you continue to do with your therapist, it is clear that despite any challenges you face, you’re becoming equipped with the tools needed to conquer the future.

    P.S. The “You have to be uncomfortable to be comfortable.” is advice I get from my therapist fairly regularly, too!

  2. Wow. So heartfelt and real. Aerin you’re a wonderful person and I can’t wait to see what you do in the future xx

  3. Aerin, it’s so inspiring to see how you are brave enough to tell your story and help those around you. I am so proud of you and know that you are going to get so far in life and accomplish anything you set your mind to. Never change because you are one of the sweetest and strongest girls out there. I love you so much and can’t wait to be with you.

  4. Aerin, it’s so inspiring to see how you are brave enough to share your story with others. You are such a strong and caring person that is always willing to help those around her and I have no doubt that you are going to get so far in life. I have learned so much from you and admire you so so much. Love you and can’t wait to be with you. Never change.

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