I've written this about a million times. I've sat up late at night reading my words and wondering how to say everything just right. I've deleted more paragraphs than I ever thought was possible and I've had drafts of things I wanted to say saved on my hard drive for years.
Today is the day. The day that I'm coming clean about everything that I've kept inside since the beginning of high school and maybe even earlier. Yesterday was World Mental Health Awareness Day, and after reading a beautiful piece written by a friend this morning, here's my truth.
I have depression. I have anxiety. I am bisexual. I am me.
Typing these words, I am holding back the tears as my hands shake and my mind is relaying every possible horrible reaction my friends and family could have to this if they read it.
But there's also a burning relief in my heart that I'll have no more secrets and that for the first time in a long time, I will finally be able to be me.
Let me break a few things down for you about my mental illness.
If you are reading this, I want you to know that I didn't choose to feel this way and I do not do any of this for attention. My depression and anxiety do not define me, but they are very much two things that I fight every single day. I take medication every morning to help me feel like a real person again, and there is nothing wrong with that.
We need to stop stigmatizing mental illness.
Several months after I finally went to a mental health professional and started taking antidepressants, I was driving down the road when suddenly I just felt happy. I had this overwhelming sense of peace and joy and contentment flood over me, and I realized that this is what it feels like to not have depression.
This is what it feels like to be normal again.
Only recently did I start taking something for my anxiety. In the last few months, crowds and the unknown have been terrifying. I avoided going places with people at all. I'd rather go grocery shopping by myself with my headphones in, just so the little voice in the back of my mind would stop telling me that all my friends hated me and didn't really care.
Originally, this piece was just going to talk about my depression and anxiety, but then I realized that there was one more thing I was hiding. And this was even more important, albeit more terrifying, to finally let out.
I am bisexual.
I like men and I like women. I am not being "indecisive" or "picky" or "confused." I am not just going through a phase. I will not pick one sex in the end. I love people, regardless of what sex or gender, and that will never change. If you have a problem with that, I can show you to the door.
I'm tired of being scared and pretending to be someone that I am not. I am who I am, and that's enough for me.
I know so many young adults and teens who are struggling with these very same issues and honestly, there is no easy way to come out as being anything but straight. It's just as hard to be vulnerable and tell people that you are struggling with mental illness.
I'm tired of feeling weak and helpless, though, and starting today, I am embracing all of me—even the parts that I do not necessarily like.
I might lose friends or family from coming out. That's ok. The great ones will always be by my side. They are the ones there for me on my really bad days, my really good days, and everything in between. Thank you.
To anyone reading this who is lost and confused, I see you. Things will get better. It is not easy, by any means, but it will one day be worth it. Do not be afraid to ask for help—I know it's hard, but it can change your life.
Never apologize for being you because, darling, you are absolutely perfect just the way you are.