It can be very difficult and painful to function in this busy world when our minds are not happy and healthy. I grew up with two depressed parents and a loving, but often sad, family. When I was about seven or eight, one of my uncles committed suicide. By the time I was in high school, I was taking medication to help my own depression and anxiety. For me, my mental health has always pivoted around sadness, loneliness, and negativity. I lived like this for years until things finally became too much. During my sophomore year of college (about two years ago), each day became nearly insurmountable. I wished, more than anything, that I could be a bird and fly away from the world. But also, deep down, I knew that there are people who live happy, beautiful lives, and a part of me wanted this for myself. I am very proud of that part of me. I took some time off from school, began seeing a therapist, and moved back home. I did a lot of volunteer work, ran a half-marathon, and started doing yoga (I even wrote an essay about my experience for the New York Times). Although I still did not see myself as a particularly unique or important human, I had moved away, at least slightly, from the intense, pervasive self-hatred that had controlled my life for so many years. I realized that I could live for me: if I wanted to make cookies, I could do that. If I wanted to play in the snow, I could do that too. I could even sit at the library and read all day. I have always considered myself independent, mature, and responsible. But I think I have grown more in the last year than ever before. I have begun loving myself — but I am not finished yet. I make conscious decisions each day to engage with others, to smile, and to allow myself to have fun. Now, I do things everyday that make me happy, like writing memoir-essays, making stir-fries with fun ingredients, and buying myself flowers. I try to make steps forward each day.
Countless others are living in our world with similar emotional pain. Maybe you yourself feel this way, or work with someone who does, or know a friend who does. I encourage you to reach out to them and offer your support. You are always welcome to email me if you would like to talk about anything at all. See your doctor or find a psychologist or talk with a friend. After going through serious depression myself, I don’t want other people to have to live like this. Let yourself be free. Let yourself be happy.
I wanted to include some mental health related links, if you would like to know more or are seeking help.
http://www.nami.org/ National Alliance on Mental Illness
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml National Institute for Mental Health
http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/ State by state guide to mental health resources
http://www.twloha.com/ To Write Love On Her Arms
http://suicidehotlines.com/ Guide to suicide hotlines across the country