Hello, my name is Angel. I am a seventeen-year-old high school senior, who has dealt with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. I have had a long, tiring journey to get where I am, about four years to be exact. Although I am in the process of recovery, I have made an impact and immense about of progress through the years I have been under the chains of my illness. It took me a long time to understand my mental illness and realize that it was okay to have such feelings and emotions. I would regret and hate myself because I believed I did not deserve to feel this way, I constantly thought that if I wanted to be happy, I could, but I was wrong. I was diagnosed with depression in my first to second year of high school, but as I look back, it all begun in eighth grade.

Eighth grade was the time that everything I once knew about myself fell apart. I entered into a honors program, thinking that I could handle it. The stress ate me up inside and I did not know how to process it, so I turned to self harming. I did not open up to anyone about it, for the fear of judgement and humiliation. When I told my mother about my constant sadness she said it was a phase, my family brushed the illness like it did not matter, so the logical thing I did was push the feelings aside... but that made everything worse. I had constant thoughts about who I was and why I was not good enough for myself, my family, and others. I questioned why my father left before I was born and concluded that it was because I was a mistake and a failure. This led me into a deeper depression and my anxiety continued to eat me alive.

I learned that I had major depression and anxiety and that I needed to get help or else I would end up doing something I regretted. At first, I refused, I thought that getting help would label me as "crazy" or "mental" so I denied and denied. After a while, I came to the realization that help was the most important thing for me.

I am not going to tell you that it was an easy road to recovery because it was not. I faced even more suicidal thoughts, mental hospital admissions, self-harm urges, attempting to overdose, isolating from everyone I cared for and loved. I was a complete mess because my illness told me ignorant and untruthful comments. I remember the realization of light striking me as I sat on a lumpy chair in a mental hospital for trying to take my own life for the second time. I remember looking among the teenagers around me and thinking, “They are just like me. We are all the same.” They were no different from my friends at school and they acted like normal teenagers. So what if we were in a mental hospital? We are all the same, we just have some issues to overcome. And at the end of the day, we are the stronger ones, because we are achieving the strength and persistence to stay alive even when we do not want to. That was the day I understood. That was the day I knew I wanted to become an advocate for people like us. Because even in the midst of a group therapy session, our leading therapist decided to shun us and not appreciate us the way she should have. I remember speaking out and saying, “You have no right to just brush us off like that. These people are amazing. Within the week, I have known all of you… I am so glad and happy to have been here because you are all so strong and so courageous. You are all so amazing. You are all so strong. I am so proud of all of you even though I spent such a small amount of time with you.”

Now, four years later, I write this to you, to share my story. I want you to know that I am on my way to the road of advocacy and becoming a clinical psychologist. As we speak, I am writing my senior thesis on the importance of mental health and why we should stop the stigmas to them. I am more than passionate about being an advocate for mental health because of the experiences I have been through. I hope you know that you are not alone, you are loved, and I care about you. Much love goes out to you. I know you can do this. I know you are strong. Do not let anyone ruin your spark. You were born into this world for a reason and I know you are destined for greater things. It may look bleak and it will be a tough ride, but you can and will achieve more than you will ever imagine. I believe in you. 

Thank you for taking your time to read this.

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