Where Are They Now? Antonio’s Update!

Antonio Aguilar, 2014

Antonio Aguilar-Karayianni, 2014

The story of Antonio Aguilar-Karaiyanni, who we introduced to you in November 2013, deserves a follow-up. After living in the fog of depression all his life, Antonio emerged with the help of AHP. When Connections last chatted with him, Antonio was studying counseling and psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies. In May, he graduated with a Masters of Arts in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in expressive arts therapy. His personal history puts this achievement into perspective.

Antonio has lived with depression for most of his life. “As I walked through my life, I felt as if I was moving through fog,” Antonio recalls somberly. “The fog was thick and sometimes scary, obstructing any clear path, I remained lost.” Although his depression is sometimes severe, other times nearly non-existent, it has been “the humming background to everything I’ve ever felt or seen or experienced.”

Yet, as Antonio said in 2013, that all changed when he came to AHP. His therapist provided critical mental health care and support. AHP “gave me the gift of being witnessed. Having someone listen to your experience and validate and understand you—it’s the thing that changed my life.” Today, Antonio counts himself among the blessed to have emerged from a life of trauma with so few scars to show for it.

Antonio continues to approach his life with a sense of serenity and purpose. He has remained intentionally single for almost six years, although he admits he is not averse to falling in love again. “I’m going to approach love and relationships from a place of gratitude and a strong sense of self, not a place of fear. I’d love to have a partner but I don’t need one.”

Antonio fills his life with friends and loved ones. He also loves to dance—salsa, rumba—to the high-energy rhythms that remind him of his youth and his home country, Guatemala. He plays at being a tourist, frequently exploring San Francisco on foot whenever the urge strikes him. Antonio’s story in a nutshell sounds like a pat victory. But we know how hard he worked to transform his outlook, to achieve his success. We at AHP are filled with gratitude in the face of small and huge victories, shifts in attitude and major life changes, alike. Antonio’s new life, one small victory after another, keeps us going too.