In honor of May being Mental Health Awareness Month, I would like to share my story with the world hoping that I can also be a part of spreading the awareness.

If I were to pinpoint when I started to value the meaning of mental health I could date it all the way back to my freshman year in high school. In ninth grade, I started suppressing my feelings, and emotions. At the time I was new to the whole high school thing and was super confused about my life in general (sounds so cliche but true). From there I formed the habit of suppressing all my emotions and believing that everything was okay. I shoved so much underneath the rug that during my senior year in high school I tripped over that big dent in the rug from where I had shoved everything and busted my head open.

My senior year of high school was by far the worst year of my life. I became so angry not only at myself but at the world. I blamed every bad thing that happened to me as my fault. I dug this dark hole that I wouldn't climb out of. After I got diagnosed with depression that is when things really took a toll for me. Instead of just feeling like absolute SHIT I could now label those feelings as being depressed. Some people may say should I not be happy that I now knew the cause of all my bad feelings. Yet, I was not.

My worst fear of being diagnosed as depressed came true which broke me even more. I became the definition of depression which tore at my inner strength more than anything. My family and close friends started treating me differently and became more cautious about what they said to me. I remember my family started to keep me busy or tried me to get me to do other things though but those things only helped temporarily. I remember my father organized a whole trip with my best friend to make me happy. At first, this trip made me very happy and I felt like I could get past my shit feelings. Yet I specifically remember breaking down on this trip despite being so happy. Those moments taught me that depression is not like other diseases. It comes and goes as it pleases, and when it comes it makes sure to tear you down. That is why depression is so hard to understand because it changes in different ways. It also changes people in different ways.

Though I felt lonely I always knew I had my family and my close friends. Without their support, I would not have been able to dig myself out of that hole. They encouraged me to try meditation and yoga which I now use as a way to manage my stress and anxiety efficiently. In those times I also found writing which has become a strong passion of mine. Yet, from time to time I still struggle, but I don't let myself get to the point I was at before. I never want to see that side again so practicing self-care has been a big priority of mine in 2019.

It has taken me a lot to get to the point I am at now, where I can confidently talk about my story and use it to help others. The words mental health now have a new meaning for me. At first, I used to associate those words with negative feelings but now my definition of mental health stands for courage and strength. At the end of the day, mental health is so important and it takes a lot to overcome depression. To anyone who is going through depression or anxiety never lose all hope. It may feel as if the world is crashing, but never let those thoughts corrupt the beautiful soul you carry. Encourage yourself to find new ways to manage your depression and practice self-care. Always remember there will be light at the end of the tunnel. Hold on to that hope and trust me you will come out stronger than before.

Hopefully one day the stigma around mental health is erased and everyone can support each other to become stronger and healthier. Happy Mental Health Awareness Month!