“Life is just really about living. Not living as in going through the notions of the day, waking up, going to class, and breathing oxygen. Living as in finding meaning in everything you do and don’t want to do. Living as in being strong enough to not allow other people to tell you what to do. My life is doing the best I can to make myself and other people happy. My culture isn’t very open about mental health. I’m Arab, so a lot of things tied to mental health are religion. I, myself, have PTSD. My family is understanding, but they don’t understand the disorder. I had PTSD since I was 12 years old, so it’s something I carry with me every day and it’s something I hope to overcome.

For the longest time, I thought I should learn to let things go and not take things personally even though it’s personal. I was able to admit it’s a problem. It’s something that is affecting and hurting me, and I deserve to speak about it, talk about it, and be angry about it. People who aren’t you don’t have the right to tell you that you aren’t hurting. Admit it to yourself and admit it to other people. Don’t be ashamed to talk about the things that hurt you because everyone is hurting one way or another. Most important thing is to be honest with yourself. Be true to yourself. If you’re hurting, don’t put a lid on it. I look forward to being happy in the future. The whole endpoint is just being satisfied and being happy with where I am with my life and who I am.”

-Ruaa (Irvine, CA)