On November 2nd of last year, I was admitted to the hospital for attempting to take my own life. Mental illness is not a phase, or simply a “bad day”. It is something that many people, my age and beyond, are affected by. I was diagnosed with clinical depression and severe all around anxiety at the age of only 13.
Mental illness is a disease. After going through what I did, I have now only begun to realize that my mental health comes before everything. Why is it that when someone is diagnosed with cancer, everyone rushes to their aid; but when someone is diagnosed with depression, everyone seems to run away?
Stigma exists. Two out of three people who are affected by mental illness don’t seek help or treatment. The day I received treatment was the day I took my first step towards recovery. Although some days I tend to take a step back, I know I will wake up the next morning and take two steps forward.
Life changed for me when I was released from the hospital. I finally started taking care of myself. I play with the most amazing softball team. I’ve learned countless instruments. I’m publishing a book, and am currently writing my second. I am partnered with Bring Change 2 Mind, a mental health organization dedicated to helping end the stigma on mental illness. I have recently been elected to the LETS BC2M Teen Advisory Board, where students like me will take the first step into bringing up the conversation about mental health within our community and eventually the nation.
The LETS BC2M Program has helped me in so many ways. Not only have I learned about my illness and why I feel this way, I have also learned how to grow and develop as a person despite my diagnosis. As part of BC2M, I hope to share my coping skills and help others who suffer with mental illness grow as I have. You are not alone. Whether you are diagnosed or not, your illness is relevant. How you feel is important. Don’t live life hidden under the covers of your bed when your thoughts are simply weighing in on your lungs and it feels too hard to breathe. Talk to someone. Get help.
With 56 schools on board this year, we plan to branch out nationally next year. The LETS BC2M Program will make a ginormous impact on the lives of many, as it did mine. Together, we can end the stigma. Together, we can get through this.
Here’s to one year being happy and healthy, regardless of the bumps and bruises along the way. My mental illness does not define me. I am strong. I am worthy. I am powerful. But most of all, I am proud of the person I have become.
LETS BC2M is a high school program dedicated to erasing the stigma of mental illness by increasing education and awareness, fostering student empowerment, building mentoring opportunities, and encouraging youth to change the perception of mental health in their schools and communities.
This student-led club initiative allows all teens the opportunity to learn and explore more about mental health topics in a safe and supportive environment. As students engage and talk about mental health, we allow them to normalize the conversation and eliminate stigma within their community.
Please consider making a donation today to support the LETS BC2M Program, and BC2M’s mission to end the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness.