Amanda, Fullerton

Everyday for the past 11 years, I have felt misunderstood. I was vocal about my depression (and the thoughts I had) but I previously was told that there was no way that “someone like me” could be depressed. I was the extroverted, sassy one that had the ability to do anything. To others I was the one that could never be enduring mental illnesses to this extent. To be fair, those that are misinformed on these illnesses would never have been able to know that I was/am sick. Unfortunately, there is a negative stigma attached to mental illness. Let it be the stigma related to the illnesses themselves, the medication, the stories being told by individuals, and so much more, and I was not sure if I would be able to be vocal about something. Especially something that has been so huge component in my life, but this is me.

On March 16, 2017, I had hit rock bottom. I remember making a pros and cons list on whether or not I should be living. I didn’t realize that I had been living with multiple mental illnesses for over a decade – it was something that I could not grasp. In order to overcome this, I became my own savior. I knew that if there was anyone that was going to save my life, it would be me. I began to study and read biographies, autobiographies, research and utilizing which ever resources possible in order to survive and get above water even the slightest.

I would consider myself a strong individual but I feel like I am nothing without the professionals that stand behind me. I have seen over eight professionals from all over the field and every single one of them have played a critical part in my story. The story that saved me. It takes a strong person to go through these things but it takes a stronger person to reach out for help and allow others to help you with resources and so much more.

I am most proud of how much I have grown and looking back how strong I have become. I am my mental illnesses, and I am going to change others lives in the process of changing my own. I am thankful that I am able to vocalize my story because at the end of the day, if I help one person then my job is complete. There are days, weeks and months where I do not see the light at the end of the tunnel. Does talking about it help? Almost always, yes. However, this is not about me. This is about ensuring that I use my voice to impact others in any and every way possible. This is about providing a voice for those that need one, and for providing the support that I wish I had 11 years ago.

My positive message for others is that it gets better. This is also cliche but it is the honest truth. You have to allow yourself the ability to feel the feelings and to do something about it. There are so many resources and people willing to help you if you build the strength to contact them and reach out.

My one piece of advice for others is that mental health is just as important as physical health and it is critical that you put yourself first. Mental health is a vital part of your life and something that should not be as underrated as it is. As human beings we need to reduce the stigma and help our communities raise awareness of mental health. For the sake and sanity of the future.

Ever since I was a child a quote that is so cliche is what really kept me going. “Everything happens for a reason.” By putting trust in that quote that put trust in myself and the process.