For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to go into a field where I can directly help people. As I became older, I grew more passionate about mental health. I found it fascinating, yet underlooked. Vital, but stigmatized. I knew I wanted to help those who were affected by mental illnesses and encourage more awareness, but I never anticipated that I, myself, would become afflicted with depression.
I was living in a world where I felt like I could turn to nobody. A world where having mental health issues was a weakness. A world where I could be denied opportunities if I let it slip. For years, I put on a mask and suffered in silence. I was the straight A student, the girl with wicked piano hands and witty remarks. Adding a mental illness into that description just didn’t seem to fit, and I was petrified that my image would be tainted if I told a soul. It got to a point where I was constantly thinking about suicide, ideating and planning with tears streaming down my face and my heart aching to confide in someone. My lowest and most regrettable moments take place in my shower, a razor blade slicing across my right hip (a place no one would see), blood swirling down the drain.
Just when I felt like this was the end for me, my best friend and guardian angel saved me. She noticed certain signs of my depressive state seeping through my disguise of wellbeing. She, herself, was struggling with her fair share of mental illnesses. Even though she was my best friend, I did not want to be a burden on her and add my own problems to her plate. However, she was persistent and patient with me. She pointed out her concerns and let me know that she was here for me. I slowly began to open up to her. I went to therapy, opened up about small details about my depression with my family and other close friends, and worked on improving my mental health. She was there for me in every possible way, and without her, I would not be here today.
Looking back on it, I realize how fortunate I am to have had someone like my best friend. Many people do not have any sort of support system, which exacerbates their struggles and may lead to outcomes, such as suicide. Even if someone has a support system, their support system may not be equipped with the tools to help their loved one. The only reason my friend was able to help me was because she had gone through similar experiences and was able to relay what she did to become better. This may not be the case for everyone, and that is why it is so important that not only mental health becomes destigmatized so that more general information is prevalent, but also that more information and tools are available for family members and friends to support their loved ones facing these challenges.
Today, I am two years and four months self harm free. I am the co-founder of a mental health awareness organization at my former high school, a Crisis Textline counselor, and an aspiring psychiatrist. The previous passion I had for mental health only intensified after my own run with depression and suicidal tendencies. It became more apparent to me how the stigma surrounding mental health and the lack of clear information was greatly affecting a significant number of people. It is so important that people feel comfortable sharing their feelings and it is even more important that their loved ones are prepared to provide the best help and care possible. TAD can make that happen.
Talk. Share. Help.