My Journey and Struggles With Mental Health

Opening Up About My Mental Health

It's time to take the next step.

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Being an advocate for the support of others' mental health is a fairly easy task. Opening up about your own is challenging. This is the first time I have ever opened up about my own mental health on a public platform. This has been one of the scariest things I have ever done, but I felt as if it was necessary for my own healing process. If you are reading this, that means I have mustered the courage to share my story.

When I was younger, I was bullied often. I had a gap in my teeth, weighed more than most girls, and had a personality that some people found annoying. I was an easy target for those who found themselves as better than me. I struggled all throughout my high school years, trying to conform to avoid confrontation about how I look and act. This has done nothing but worsen my own mental health and began a manifestation of negative feelings about myself within my own mind.

I haven't told many people outside of those close to me my story, and I won't disclose my entire story in this article, but this is a step I must take to better my own life. Before college, it was easy for me to find help when I was struggling through a wave of sadness. My mother was my rock, and I could go to her for whatever help I needed. I was extremely grateful. But my biggest fear was college. What do I do when I can't run downstairs to my living room and ask my mother to comfort me?

At college, my mental health has been in it's worst state. You can be who you truly are here-- but do I know that about myself yet? I have tried so many times here to become the person that I want to be. I want to improve myself to the point where I can look back at all of the hardships I have gone through and smile, knowing that I have made it to my goals.

I am not writing this for pity, I am writing this for myself. This is one of the biggest steps I have to take to accomplish my goals. If I can come out of the shadows and finally stop trying to hide the fact that I am struggling, maybe then I can get better. Maybe then, I will be able to go to the gym without worrying that people will laugh and snicker at me for how I look. Maybe then, I will be able to meet new people and surround myself with the people who understand me and enjoy my presence. Maybe, I will be able to prove myself and the world wrong about stigmas surrounding mental illness. Maybe I will turn these maybes into "I wills".

I hide my sadness behind humor, behind the laughter, being scrutinized Instagram photos. I hide it in the music I listen to. I hide it in my nonchalant tweets, behind every Snapchat story, behind the advice I give to others in the same situation-- behind everything. I am sick of hiding. I want to have comfort in myself and being who I really am. I want to stop feeling as if I could not share my story because other people think that I live such a perfect life and there is no reason to be sad. People struggle behind closed doors. Putting on a face that everything is perfectly fine does not mean that it is. I wish people would realize it.


It won't be a quick process. It will have a lot of hardships and struggles, but I have already proven to myself that I can get through some of the darkest times. I have faith in myself. I will do it. I can do it. This is my first step.

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black-and-white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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Public Health May Be The Most Important Area To Focus On As A Society

I saw with my own eyes the importance of public health initiatives in villages throughout Honduras and Nicaragua.

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Medical exploration and healthcare management has thrived throughout the 21st century, with major developments in epidemiology allowing organizations such as the World Health Organization of the United Nations to track the spread of preventable diseases such as malaria and influenza across impoverished countries worldwide. I saw with my own eyes the importance of public health initiatives in villages throughout Honduras and Nicaragua when I traveled there as a Brigadier with Stony Brook's Public Health Brigade, a coalition organized by Global Brigades during the Summers of 2016 and 2017.

Working alongside other university collaborations such as Boston University, I was mesmerized by the impact that improvements such as clean water through mountain pipelines and sustainable housing could do in reducing the severity of Zika virus outbreaks in the region, as accentuated by the near 8,400 villagers with access to clean water as a result of our efforts.

These experiences demonstrated to me the value of preventative measures highlighted by the public health approach — by attacking the origin of a disease and the medium through which it spreads instead of merely treating the manifestation of its symptoms, a holistic approach would allow for the eradication of a malady throughout an entire region whilst educating the local populations about the importance of proper hygiene practices and fortified infrastructure to prevent its re-eminence. It is for this reason that I feel inspired to pursue a graduate degree in Public Health as a professional, so that I can help contribute to the eradication of preventable illnesses across the globe.

A specific area of interest that I wish to target as a field of study would be the impact of sustainable housing in the eradication of illnesses such as lead poisoning through contaminated water sources. My own experience in this particular aspect of Public Health Administration as a Brigadier with Stony Brook Public Health Brigade showed me the importance of secure infrastructure in the reduction of preventable diseases as an especially pertinent area of community health in the United States, highlighted by the water toxicity crisis in Flint, Michigan.

A recent study released by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha at Hurley Medical Center noted an uptick in the blood-lead concentration of Flint Children from 2.4% to 4.9% after changing their water source, with spikes as high as 10.6% in correlation with elevated levels of lead in Flint water. These elevated blood-lead concentrations put these children at higher risk for lead poisoning, characterized by reduced growth rate and learning difficulties. Purification of the available water sources throughout the region would be a comprehensive long-term solution to reducing elevated blood-lead levels amongst Flint residents.

My goals after my master's degree in public health would be to pursue a medical education and become a doctor, or go into Healthcare Administration and eventually work with the WHO of the UN to establish a more easily accessible Healthcare system across various countries to increase the number of people in impoverished areas that can be reached by doctors, nurses and other primary care practitioners. I feel that a proper understanding of public health would, therefore, be essential to establishing my career in service to humanity.

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