Mental health is very prominent in our society today. You never know what a person is going through. It is as simple as — be a good person to everyone, check in on your friends, and ask them how they're doing. You can turn a bad day into a good day by doing something as small as that. No matter who you are, where you are in life — make someone's day.

Mental illnesses are REAL and I am one of the millions of people around the world who suffer from one. I'm tired of people invalidating mental illnesses and I'm tired of people stigmatizing people with mental illnesses.

It's not just "in your head."

Yes, I have clinical depression and an anxiety disorder. It's part of me, and it may or may not always be a part of me. However, I am growing from my struggles and I will not be defined nor limited by my illness.

Sometimes, we decide what people's mental health really is without having a clue. Society slaps a stigma on anxiety and depression and decides what it CAN and SHOULD look like, without ever consulting someone who's going through a tough time. Depression isn't just being sad, it's staying in bed for hours at a time, it's an effort to get out of bed or to do any activity, it's a constant weight on your chest that no matter how hard you try, the weight keeps pulling you down. Depression makes you cancel your plans because you don't have it in you. You constantly feel like you are explaining why you missed class, work or a social event. That new lie you have thought of because in this society saying you were depressed isn't allowed.

It's unnerving hearing that a friend or family member is having a hard time getting through the day. Don't respond with "it will get better." Don't brush it off, take the time and let them talk. It can take a long time to diagnose anxiety and depression and then months for the medications to help. Be OK with your bad days. Make yourself vulnerable and share your feelings, and hopefully, others will follow. You never know who you might help.

And I don't want to speak too soon, but maybe speaking something into existence is better than not speaking at all. Maybe tomorrow will prove to be different and maybe — I can spend my entire life thinking of the ifs, buts, and maybes. Today, in this moment I am content.

As dark as some days have been, that darkness has only allowed me to have a bigger appreciation for the light — traveling and seeing unforgettable sights, days spent laughing with my family, boyfriend, friends, and coworkers, a love so deep it consumes me, accomplishments that fill me with a sense of pride. Dealing with this seems like an uphill battle, but it is a battle I am determined to win.

I used to feel shame at the idea of talking about this as if admitting it made me weak or less of a person. If anything, this has made me stronger. Let's end the stigma.