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Mental Health Personal Essay
You don’t just wake up with it one day.  You don’t just decide to have it.  It is an overarching feeling for months or years before you identify it.  It is the feeling of getting less excited about your favorite things.  It is the feeling of wanting to stay in bed all day and not caring in the world.  It’s shutting out the world around you.  The unread text messages, the declined calls, the messy room, and the piercing headache from having too many thoughts.  DEPRESSION. Something that so many of us go through, not even knowing. Some of us experience it in milder cases, and some so severe that we cannot even function the right way in everyday society.  Something that everyone is forced to keep quiet.  To fight in silence.  To go on with our lives and days like all of our pieces are together. Each day is pretend.  Pretending to have joy for the day ahead, seeing the purpose that we have.  Depression is hidden yet seen.  Depression is debilitating yet invigorating.   Freshman year of high school, September 2015.  Every day, I woke and each new task thrown my way made it feel like I was sinking deeper and deeper into a body of water that had no bottom.  I stayed silent because I didn’t know if I was the only one going through this.  I stayed silent because I didn’t want anyone to worry.  I stayed silent because I was afraid.  Would I be like this forever? Would I get out of this funk, or would it linger? I thought I wasn’t getting enough sleep, but I was.  I thought it was because I was transitioning from a successful middle school career to a high school where I had to restart. I thought it was just a foggy mental season in my life until it became weeks to months and months to years. I continued to stay silent as I passed by my teachers and peers and said I was good even when I wasn’t.  February 2017, I Google searched my symptoms.  The words “Depression”, “Generalized Anxiety Disorder”, and “High-Functioning” swirled the page.  I had no idea what this meant.  Was I sick? Was there a way to fix it? How do I make it better? All I had known until this point of my life is when you feel like you have an illness, you go to see a doctor, and they give you some kind of cure.  As I kept scrolling and opening links that looked reliable, I realized that this wouldn’t be the case for this “illness”.  In English class around this time, we began a project in which we could pick any question that we were curious about and use books that we had read, outside articles, and other supplements to achieve somewhat of an answer.  With all of that information from the Google searches, I formulated my question as such “How does one mental illness affect them, their friends and family, and the community around them?” I dove into books and articles and social media posts and realized that not only were there steps that I could take, I realized that it would be such a long process of healing. Each page I turned, each article I opened, and each experience I read of another individual was eye-opening and frightening.  It showed me the possibility, yet it showed how it might not be immediate.  How things can get worse and go wrong and how this feeling inside you could linger forever.  January 2018, I went to go see a new therapist.  After many sessions, I asked her what her conclusion was so far.  She said it seems like you have mild cases of depression and anxiety based on heavy transitions that are happening in your life.  Those words rattled me.  I understood, but I didn’t, all at the same time.  The fact that I had been given a true diagnosis after all of this self-inquiry and wondering about what would come next and how I could get help.  This was my gateway.  She then proceeds to explain that with this diagnosis, there will be a lot of work that will need to be done.  I still was processing as she was saying all of this. I realized that this was the moment where I could break my silence. Where I could tell the truth and she would understand and hear me out and not call me crazy and not tell me to get over it.  The feeling of being seen and heard was never something that I got as a child. I was the oldest sibling, and I always interpreted that that meant that I always had to be the strong one, always had to be the one that was put together, getting the good grades, and joining all of the clubs.  Getting the most involved, leaving the house early in the morning, and getting home just in time for dinner.  It was the constant rush and grind, but at this moment, in this hour every week, I got the chance to let my guard down, to be able to not be in charge for a minute and to be more of a follower than a leader. August 2019, I moved across the country to attend San Diego State, and the silence began again.  I didn’t want to burden anyone with my homesickness, problems, worries, and loneliness, so I stayed silent.  I continued to show up for class. I continued to put in the work, got ok grades, and just longed for the next break where I could go home to my comfort zone.  I thought that things would have turned out differently and that I would be happier that I fled home, but somehow it ended up being the contrary.  I wanted to leave school. I wanted to go home, get my old job back, and pursue other ventures. I fought so hard with myself Since this moment, I have been committed to steering away from being silent.  I speak very publicly about my mental illness, being in therapy, and my struggles day to day.  It hasn’t always been like this.  College has given me more freedom to express myself and show my true colors without my family breathing down my neck.  I can show my true colors, and this helps with my mental health. I wish this could be one of those stories where there is some sort of victory that happens in the end, but that is not the case. To this day, I am still struggling.  New things are coming up each day and sometimes, I don’t know exactly how to navigate them.  

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