By Tiffany Rutkowski
An alumna and adjunct professor of counselor education at the College proudly shared a glimpse of her lifelong battle with anxiety at her book launch party and fundraiser for Womanspace at Piccolo Pronto in Campus Town on Friday, March 23.
Womanspace is a non-profit agency in Mercer county that provides services to those impacted by domestic and sexual violence. The book launch party raised $259 in cash donations.
Corinne Zupko, author of “From Anxiety To Love,” took the floor with an intimate audience to disclose her own personal struggle that began at age 2 –– a diagnosis of separation anxiety, which followed her all the way to her time as a student at the College and led to the birth of her book.
“It’s very meaningful for me to be at The College of New Jersey,” Zupko said. “It’s where I was first diagnosed with some of my issues.”
As a sophomore living in Cromwell Hall, Zupko experienced one of her first anxiety attacks. She had recently heard the news that a student at the College had died suddenly from meningitis. As someone who was hyper-focused on medical issues, she was instantly fearful.
“I calmed myself during the day,” Zupko said, “But, at 3 a.m., I woke up with what felt like a punch in my stomach.”
As she faced this wave of panic in the darkness of her dorm room, she trembled from head to toe, struggling to make her way down from her top bunk. Her roommate was unaware of her battle with anxiety, according to Zupko.
“Many people around me didn’t know what was going on because I always put a smile on,” she said.
For anyone suffering with similar feelings of fear or anxiety, Zupko encourages them not to hide behind a smile and to seek out support and ways to cope with their issues.
“In the climate that we’re in, people need to learn about being in touch with themselves and this book is really starting that conversation,” said Kathleen Spata, program coordinator for the New Jersey Support Service Providers program at The Center on Sensory and Complex Disabilities at the College.
For Zupko, her healing began after her mother handed her a copy of “A Course in Miracles,” a three-volume curriculum that teaches the way to achieve universal love and peace.
Although the text helped her, Zupko realized she still wasn’t targeting the heart of her battle with anxiety, especially after later suffering from a debilitating attack that was worse than the one she experienced in Cromwell Hall, according to Zupko.
Zupko began writing in 2010 as a way to deal with her anxiety.
“I started writing about what was helping me,” Zupko said. “That’s when things started to fall away.”
As Zupko began the six-year process of writing “From Anxiety To Love,” she realized she had finally begun to heal. Writing this book allowed her to process her experiences rather than push them away, according to Zupko.
“During her time as my professor, she was really doing all the fine tuning of her book,” said Anna Nase (’17), an alumna of the College’s graduate counseling program. “I wanted to come back and support her after all the support she provided me, even while writing a book.”
Today, even after using “From Anxiety to Love” as a tool to self-reflect and heal her anxiety, Zupko still deals with fears in her daily life.
“Now, when I feel overwhelmed and when I have a to-do list, what happens is I meet that to-do list with a very different energy — like I can do one thing at a time,” Zupko said.
In “From Anxiety To Love,” Zupko uses her stories and her knowledge from “A Course in Miracles” to introduce readers to their inner therapist and to take them through the process of undoing anxiety-based thinking in order to restore awareness of peace.
“No matter what you’re going through, the light in you is too bright to fail,” she said.