Yes, we are talking about mental health today. Why? Because it’s important. There are so many stigmas surrounding mental health and here at The Clique Official, we want to do as much as we can to get rid of that stigma.

Let’s be real here. The majority of people you know have faced some type of mental health problem at one point or another in their lives. I personally have been dealing with depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder for over five years now and many of the people who know me have no idea.

Over time, I have grown stronger and started healing but only when I decided to start being more open about my mental illnesses.

Courtesy of Pinterest

It started after I watched my brother die at the hands of a drunk driver. It was right before my 18th birthday. I was a senior in high school having just officially enrolled at Kent State University and my whole world came crashing down. For three years, I managed to put on a brave face and do my best to push my emotions aside and focus on this new chapter of my life. The best way I found to deal with my emotions was to write, so I started a blog, Jane Doe Unidentified.

It worked for a while but once I started being more involved in college and making friends, I pushed those feelings back to a deep dark place. But mental illness does not wait for the “right time” or when it is convenient for you to deal with it. To be honest, chances are you will never feel like it is the “right time” to deal with deep, dark emotions. Once it starts “spilling out” (for lack of a better phrase), it is so incredibly hard to contain and every day there are new reports of property damage and casualties (because you basically start spiraling).

If you want to know more about my experience and my mental health journey, I suggest you read Jane Doe Unidentified. This post is not about my story. I am here to tell others suffering through depression, anxiety and any other type of mental health issue that you are not alone. Most of all, I want you to know that IT IS NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF. I was always so afraid to share this thing that was taking over my life because I didn’t want people to see me as damaged, broken, unstable, incapable, etc.

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By sharing with others, I realized that mental health is a topic that needs to be spoken of more often. So many people around me, although their mental illnesses were caused by different things than mine, had been feeling a lot of the same emotions I had been experiencing. Having gone through that experience and being in a much better place now, it has given me the courage to reach out to others who may need help and provide words of encouragement to continue their journey. 

The best part of sharing your story is that it encourages others to share theirs with you. Through sharing, I have obtained so much valuable information about what has helped others and what I can do for myself as well as being able to give advice based on my personal experiences. Even though I’m in a great place mentally and emotionally right now, I still have a lot of work to do. I am working on my mental health every day.

For me, blogging about my experience dealing with my brother’s death and everything that came with it was incredibly helpful. I was able to put all of my deepest, darkest thoughts into words and even though I felt I could not express it to anyone, it was an outlet for my emotions.

Photographer: Kristian James

I still cry when I read those posts because it brings me back to how I felt in those moments. It was amazing to go back months later and read over the things I had written and realized the progress I was making. Even now, when I think back to that day almost three years ago and I look at where I am today, I am amazed.

I am so thankful to every person that was there when I finally reached out and I am thankful because they continue to check on me even knowing I am in a better state of mind now.

I guess my message has been a little jumbled up but I think the easiest way to state it is through bullet points:

    • Please don’t be ashamed of what you are going through and don’t let people shame you. Anyone that is not contributing to your well-being does not need to be in your life.
    • Please reach out to those around you: parents, siblings, close friends, mentors, etc. These people love and care for you and want to see you grow and live a happy life.
    • I didn’t mention this in this post but do not be afraid of mental health medications. Although they are not for everyone, they can help. These types of medication were what allowed me to work towards a better me when just talk therapy was not enough. Please do not be afraid to have a conversation with your therapist and allow them to educate you on what those medications can do for you and if they are right for you.
    • I know for some therapists are not easily accessible but there are other resources. If you are religious or share in any group in relation to spirituality, reach out to people there. They may be able to help you find some resources as well as serve as a listening ear. Also, do not count your friends and family out. You’d be surprised by the amount of support they can provide and just talking about what you are going through helps immensely. Not only that, but they may have suggestions and advice for you.
    • Last but MOST IMPORTANT, keep an open mind and stay positive. I know that it may seem very hard to do but just remember that there will come a time when you won’t feel the way you feel now. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. As many terrible days as there have been, brighter and better days will follow. I am living proof of that and that is why I chose to write about this topic.

This part is possibly something you do not want to hear, but my depression and anxiety creep up on me a little every now and then. But guess what? I made it through to the other side once. I, now, have an amazing support system and I have learned skills and techniques to counter and deal with those emotions when they creep up again. At the end of the day, I lost my brother and the pain and grief of losing him are not just going to go away after 5 years. This is something I will have to deal with for the rest of my life and I am okay with that because I am stronger than ever before.

If you would like to share your story with us, please feel free to do so. We would love to hear it and share with others on The Clique Official. If you are not comfortable with it being shared on the site, do not worry. We will always ask your permission before publishing. Share here.