I never was really sure how to start this. I have thought about writing this over and over again but getting my entire point across is a real struggle. I know everyone has different viewpoints of the world. No one truly has the same exact view on life. If we all did, we would all be robots. I want you to first imagine the world as if it were a love story. Picture the sun always shining, no worries, just love. Imagine your favorite place to be, your favorite people you wish to be with. You feel happy, maybe peaceful. You love life. Now I want you to completely switch perspectives. For many people, it is hard to picture life in a dark and dreary way. Even if they can picture it, they act like that doesn’t exist. They tend to push it to the side. This life is grey, even the things you love don’t help bring you happiness. It is lonely. You ask yourself, “Is it going to be like this forever?” Now, come back to your true life. Think hard about how your life makes you feel. It may not be like these two extremes. Maybe you are somewhere in the middle. But you need to realize how different people’s perspectives can be.
Growing up, my life was a living love story. Being young, innocent, and naive is simply a dream. But somewhere between grade school ending and high school starting, my entire perspective changed. I went from a love story life to a grey sky. I am sure many people have felt “nervous” or “sad” at some point in their lives. I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression when I was fifteen. We realized that I was more than just “nervous” or “sad”. Both of these disorders have a negative stigma attached to them, but I am first going to talk about the stigma attached to anxiety. Throughout my life, people always told me, “Just breathe, you are fine, you are just nervous.” When you are nervous do you pass out, throw up, or can’t breathe? When you are just nervous do you hide in your room and get scared of just walking out of that one door to get out from hiding? Being nervous is not the same thing as anxiety. Anxiety is fear. It feels like someone is inside of you telling you that you are not good enough or that you are not capable of anything in life. Believe me, I have tried just “getting over it” and I have tried “calming down”. That is not all it takes. For people who struggle with chronic anxiety or social anxiety, depression often comes dragging along with it. Depression is not just one bad day. Depression is not just being “sad” for an hour and feeling totally fine the next. It is taking all of your strength to just get out of bed in the mornings. It is crying in your mom’s arms because you are too done with life to even take a shower. It is doing everything in your power to not let yourself commit self harm and not feeling safe when you are alone. You feel lonely and lost, yet you are not alone.
For the past month, I have been in a partial hospitalization program for these two diagnoses that are not in my control. Depression and anxiety are illnesses that people have due to genetics. They are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain that cannot be fixed with “getting over it”. People take these words and make people seem as though they are crazy. Depression and anxiety does not mean one is crazy. It does not mean one is broken. You may feel broken, but you are not. People with these hardships are the strongest people I have met. Since I have been in this program, I have learned how important mental health truly is. Mental illness is also a topic which is very hard to understand when a person has not experienced it themselves, nor know anyone close to them who has. So I am going to ask you this…if you had a broken leg, would you not need medical help? If people told you to suck it up, would it magically be cured? The answer is no. A broken leg is just as bad as having mental health problems. They both need a long time to heal. They both need professional medical help. Yet, when someone breaks a leg everyone runs to help, but when it comes to mental illness, many people back away and judge.
It is so easy to label people nowadays. “Oh, she’s sad”, “He is so emo”, “That girl just wants attention.” People are so much more than labels. Do you know how many times I have told people of my struggles and they think I am just being dramatic or I am craving attention? You do not know what someone is going through, ever. So what I want to tell everyone is to love. I have lost many friends through this journey. They say that they just do not know how to talk or approach me now. There is so much hate in this world. High school is so tough. But do not let it make you hard. Stay soft. Love is something I firmly believe helps in every situation. It makes one’s life less lonely. It gives people light in the darkness. It helps the bad lead to good. If you have a hard time finding a light in your life, be the light for others. Remember how it feels to be loved and spread it all around. One of my favorite quotes is by Kurt Vonnegut: “Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness.” Do not alienate others. The girl always smiling goes home and cries. The boy who always acts tough is sensitive. I am going to say it one last time. Be the light. Spread love. Find the little things that make the world brighter for you. Tell people how you feel. Be bold. Be kind. Kindness is the true essence of life. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you feel, and more beautiful than you see.