I grew up thinking that if I tried hard enough, I could have anything in the world. I still believe that statement is true; however, I never accounted for all of the crazy stuff life inevitably throws at you.

In high school, I swore I could never be depressed and I had little understanding for people who were dealing with mental health problems. After a lot of self-discovery over the past few years, I now realize that I have always struggled with mental health.

I would say that most of us do from time to time. Instead of developing healthy coping mechanisms, I allowed myself to act as if everything was fine. In fact, I strived for perfection in every way possible. I ignored my mental health, and instead, I lived with the crippling symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Last year, my body finally said enough and I became clinically depressed. I could no longer ignore what I had for so long and I was forced to deal with my mental health because I could no longer function and live my life.

What most people don't tell you is that depression, anxiety, and every other mental health disorders are no easy feat. There is no magic pill. They are absolutely crippling to the very core of who a person is.

During that time, I used to describe that I felt like Amber was locked deep inside my soul in a little cage, screaming to be let out. A dark monster was keeping her locked away forever and I thought I would never escape.

I was put on a high dose of depression medication and ADHD meds to help me focus and try to finish out my sophomore year. The medication helped in a lot of ways, but life was still extremely hard.

It was a disease I couldn't escape. In April of last year, I started to fantasize about killing myself. I decided to admit myself to the hospital.

My time in the psych unit was very interesting. I met some of the most beautiful and raw personalities I have ever been acquainted with.

They all had similar or even worse problems than I had, but we were still all able to laugh together and enjoy each other's company.

The comradeship was extremely comforting and I will never forget the love and hope I received from the other patients.

I was able to view my life from a safe place where all I had time to do was think. I was twenty years old and I had my whole life ahead of me.

I cried a lot that week over things of the past, my sickness, and the emptiness I felt inside. I was scared and all I wanted was to be happy again.

I realized that I had to let go of all of the sadness. I had to let go of caring so much about what everyone else thought of me if I was to continue living.

I returned back to school from my leave of absence and finished out the year as strong as I could. I decided to move back home for the summer.

I spent those couple of months trying to decide what to do with my life after everything that had happened. I decided to stay in Springfield and finish out my degree at Missouri State.

Life was still hard and I was still healing. Loss of anything can take a long time to heal. I continued to live my life day by day, trying to recreate a life that resembled my life before.

And then I realized--that wasn't possible. Healing from something tragic inherently changes who you are.

I believe that we remain the same in many ways, but there was no going back to the girl I used to be.

We are continuously changing every day. I am not "healed" but I sure do try to live every day to the fullest.

I have decided to create a life for myself every day instead of worrying about what was and who I used to be.

I decided to write this for myself and for those of you out there who feel like all hope is gone. Hope is never gone and I promise--you will smile again one day.