Recovery is a process. It will almost never be instantaneous.
It's been a year since I graduated high school. Within this past year, I've made incredible progress. I feel myself being ME again.
This journey of recovery began a year ago at my high school graduation when I was granted the honor and privilege to speak at the ceremony. In this speech, I decided I wanted to speak about something that is incredibly critical and pertinent to not only high school and college students, but virtually anyone and everyone: mental health.
As I've reiterated time and time again, senior year of high school was a scary time for me. I had never truly experienced what depression was really like until I was 17. I knew it existed. I knew anxiety attacks were real, but I was far too much of a goofball to understand the reality of what all that was.
It hit me that year. I literally lost touch with my real self. I didn't know who I was anymore because I wanted to be funny and smile like I always do, but I had trouble sustaining that happiness. I mentally and physically couldn't do it. I was lost. Alone. Instilled with fear.
That's what I wanted to make my speech about. I wanted to take my experiences and apply what I went through to everyone listening to me.
And let me tell you... those eight minutes were one of the most memorable and special moments of my life. The active responses I was getting from the audience enlightened me as I spoke, and even better, after the speech was done I had people come up to me and message me and tell me how moved they were by my words. I accessed their hearts and validated them. I accepted their struggles and assured them it's OK to feel shitty and stuck. The pain is only temporary. And the fact that I could speak to these people and impact them with words of positivity. I just can't even begin to describe how amazing that feels. It's by far one of my biggest accomplishments.
The main themes of my speech I incorporated were perseverance and self-fulfillment, in which I state:
"The important thing to take from these obstacles is to persevere — to not get caught in the paralysis of failure or the strive for knowing, but instead to focus on self-fullfillment. We are born to live fulfillingly, not to impress people or compete with others."
I wanted people to understand that giving up should never be an option. You have to learn how to navigate around all the negative thoughts and prioritize yourself first. Live life in a way that completes who YOU are and in a way that makes YOU happy. Don't do it for anyone else.
I bottled up so much for so long, but after that day, after I spoke all of this into existence and let it all out and received the support that I did, I realized how beautiful life can be. It was confirmation for me to keep going and to keep trying. I began to talk to my friends and family more about the ways I was feeling, especially when I got to college. It became a lot easier for me to be more open and more emotionally intelligent.
Don't get me wrong, recovery is a process. My mental health still wavered tremendously. I still had my moments of doubt and feelings of hopelessness. But, this speech was a milestone for me. I started to take my own advice and wisdom and better myself. Recovery is a process. It will almost never be instantaneous.
Take your time to heal. Just please don't ever do it alone.
If you want to listen to my speech, you can watch it here.