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In today’s world, many young people are facing struggles with their mental health—with 10-20 percent of youth being affected by a mental illness. I can say that before I knew anything about what it meant to have mental health concerns I was living with it. The Oxford Dictionary definition of mental health is; a person’s condition regarding their psychological and emotional well-being. Society has put a stigma on it, so how are people that are currently struggling supposed to feel? It’s not like we woke up one day and decided that this is how we wanted to live our lives. I didn’t ask to live with depression or suicidal thoughts, but events in my life have led me to this place. I knew that I was feeling lost and alone in my world, and I feared the person I was becoming. I didn’t have any of the tools I needed, or to even know where to start. I struggled with feeling like I was the only person going through this. I felt like I was living on a roller coaster, and I didn’t know how to get off. I felt trapped in my own body. This time last year I hit rock bottom. I didn't know where to go. My world was a dark hole that I couldn't escape. The colorful parts of life were fading away; however, twelve months later I have done a complete flip with my life.
I know that my mental illness isn’t like a cold and it won’t just “go away.” It is something I will have to live with all the time, possibly for the rest of my life. The only thing I can control is how I choose to deal with it. When the media attaches a stigma to mental illness I feel it creates the feeling that there is more of a problem with me and who I am. Using cliche images has lead readers to believe that the appearance of mental illness is what the media has created. People can often base their opinions on what they believe to be true, based on information provided by the media. As someone who struggles with my mental wellness, I already feel like I am constantly being judged. My life does not look like the picture social media portrays. We are creating labels and a misrepresentation of what mental illness is. We must stop using stock photo images or cookie cutter picture perfect ad campaigns and start to understand what living with mental health issues everyday really is. Until we face the truth and reality we will never be able to work to understanding mental health issues.
When it comes to living every day with a mental illness, it is completely up to you. You have full control over how you chose to live your life, or in some cases not live your life. You are the only person who can make things better. No matter how many times people try and help you, you won't start working on it until you want to work on bettering yourself. I am not saying that the fight is easy, but I can tell you that it is so worth it in the end. If you can find people in your life that are willing to support you and stick by you no matter what, those are the people you need in your life. I have been very fortunate to find some amazing role models that have helped in making me the person I am today. I fell that if it wasn’t for their constant checking in and support; I wouldn’t be here today. They have all helped me in a different way, whether it be staying up all hours of the night to just talk to me or letting me just hang out with them when I don’t want to be alone. These people are the ones that remind me all the time that I am stronger than I give myself credit for. We all need a support system. Life isn’t about living alone, it’s about finding the people that will stand beside you through the good, the bad and the ugly.
My life is more than a stock photo. I am more than a stock photo. I am a someone who has taken her life from what was a dark hole, and through the guidance of friends and family have changed my life for the better. I knew that once I hit rock bottom that was the last place that I ever wanted to be again. I knew that I needed to make changes in my life, changes for the better. Once you find your way, there is always going to be ups and downs. But it is all about finding the balance of what you can handle and figuring out what you deserve. As a very good friend of mine recently said, “If this last year has taught us anything, it’s that there is nothing you can't handle” (D.H)