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60+ Inspiring College Mental Health Stories of Recovery: College Life Stories To Give You Hope

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Girl dreaming and looking through a window at an office.

Mental health issues are a major crisis facing today’s universities. Most of the time, these crises are ignored. Students feel as though they are not able to talk about their challenging college life stories publicly.

Lack of conversation on such a critical topic leads to continued struggles like depression and anxiety for college students who have run out of options.

We would like to take a step to give these college life stories a voice. If you are struggling with this difficult topic, hearing the mental health stories of recovery from others can be a large help.

If you have nowhere to turn, know that you are not helpless; with the right actions and support, your challenging day-to-day life can be easier and will get better. Here are 60+ mental health stories of recovery from college students.

In this post:

 

Mental health recovery stories about staying positive

1. Finding Your Voice When Struggling With a Mental Illness

Brooklyn, NY

Mental illness to me is the illness of the brain. Mental illness can be categorized in several ways.

Some people are better at hiding it than others. Some family members choose to talk about it and then others don’t.

I think mental illness in America is a big problem because some people are being misdiagnosed and some people are not being diagnosed at all. Mentally ill people are often labeled as ‘crazy’ or ‘problematic’ and that’s not the case.

No one is perfect. Everyone deserves a voice and not everyone has one.

I have a loved one, very close to me, that has a mental disorder. She suffers from depression. She was diagnosed with it in 2014.

It is in its early stages, but it does affect her greatly. She has good days and then sometimes very bad days. Although she has depression, she definitely fights it and makes sure it never consumes her.

2. How Staying Positive Helps Me Control My Emotions

About a month ago, life presented me at a crossroad—a relationship in my life could either continue on or fall apart. The two weeks following, I prayed about it, meditated on it, analyzed it, and over-thought the situation.

Despite having the voice in my head telling me things were going to end (because how could they not), I chose to believe in the future I wanted to see.

Going into the conversation that would reveal that future, I felt sure I was going to walk away happy, but despite fighting for the future I saw to be possible, I walked away from that conversation blindsided, heartbroken, and confused.

In the weeks since that incident, I’ve had to work harder than I ever have had to in order to stay positive, which is not an easy choice.

I’ve often had people remark to me, ‘But, that’s just because you’re an optimist’ as if optimism is a trait inherent to my being…like having brown eyes or small hands. However, staying positive is a battle I have to fight every single day.

There are some days when that battle is easier than others and some days when the fight to crawl out of my bed feels like the most difficult choice I’ve had to make all year.

I’ve questioned why positivity is such a good thing if it ultimately led to disappointment.

I’ve also struggled to see past the intensity of my current emotions and present reality. However, all the hard times in my life have ultimately pushed me to recognize the importance of optimism.

Just like most things, optimism is a skill that you improve upon the more you practice.

It is a powerful weapon to recognize the reality of the feelings and thoughts that dominate your current heart and headspace without giving into the belief that you are confined or defined by them.

Every time you fight to see even just the glimmer of good in any given moment, even as small as the fact that you forgot about your tea for 30 minutes but when you came back it was still hot, you sharpen that weapon.

The sharper and more skilled at wielding that weapon you get, the easier it is to cut through the BS of life the next time.

It’s important to find people who will talk with you, let you cry, let you get angry, and then will look at you with a warm smile, hold on tight to you and say,

‘Don’t know what’s going to happen next. I don’t know how long you will feel this way. However, I know you are strong and I am here for you when your strength comes in the form of letting me carry you.

I know someday you’ll smile again and I am willing to walk with you for as long as that takes.’

3. How Having a Positive Mindset Can Help Your Mental Health

Cincinnati, OH

Mental health is incredibly important. People really need to take it as seriously as physical health.

Even people without mental illnesses still need to function in a healthy mindset. Just like we need to eat well and exercise, we need to use positive self-talk.

And I know. People think it’s nonsense. But the way you think and speak and act all affect how you feel.

So have a positive mindset. Work for it. Believe in yourself.

Life can suck but it can also be great. So live for the great. Even the great little things can bring joy.

4. How Living in the Present Day Is Important for Mental Health

Cincinnati, OH

People are quick to say that ‘tomorrow gets better,’ but they never help you with the present day.

I guess they’re just hoping that tomorrow is better than today, but if today is awful, then how am I supposed to get through today? It’s difficult when there aren’t immediate answers.

We live in a society that if we aren’t immediately gratified we’re at a loss. In those days when today seemed like there was no tomorrow, all I had was hope and patience. And I’m still learning about that in terms of mental health.

5. How Having A Positive Mindset Helps Me Control My Emotions

Cincinnati, OH

Today is a good day. It’s raining, but it’s a good day.

All I have to do is keep my head up and keep smiling and sometimes my mind will follow my body. If I wake up with the intention of having a positive mindset some days, it works.

I’m not saying that mental health is as simple as setting that mindset, but there are some factors that you can influence to make a positive change in your life. If you can control your mindset, your emotions may follow and your day may change for the better.

I have to wake up and tell myself that every day is an opportunity to have a great day. I enjoy the little things, I splash in the puddles. Rain won’t stop me.

6. How Pressure Triggered My Struggle With Anxiety

Syracuse, NY

I dealt with a few dark times in my childhood that kind of impacted my outlook on life and that’s probably when my struggle with anxiety began.

When I’m feeling anxious, I feel this heavy pressure on my body; it feels like a boulder weighing down against my chest. I feel impulsive and impatient, and it takes all mindfulness and presence completely out of my being.

A lot of the time, I feel like I’m missing out on life experiences because I’m constantly thinking about the future while the present is passing me by. I don’t want to look back and wonder what could have been.

I’m learning that it is better to try and fail than to let anxiety stop me from trying in the first place.

The main things I do to cope with feelings like this would be focusing on my breathing and reminding myself to take life one day at a time.

You have to realize that not every situation is going to have the worst possible outcome, and there’s really nothing to gain in sweating the small stuff.

Be open to people. Don’t be ashamed to reach out for help and always remember to look forward to the little things that make you happy.

7. How Anorexia Nervosa Affected My Mental Health

Hamden, CT

I am 22 and I suffer from anorexia nervosa and have been since I was about 16 or 17. I don’t even like saying it out loud.

It sounds so stupid. I mean, I’m not even that skinny. Like if I were walking down the street and you saw me, your first thought would be ‘oh an average girl’, not ‘damn she needs to eat a burger.’ And that’s sad that I’m even saying that.

Just because I’m not scary skinny doesn’t make my disease any less real. That’s like saying that someone doesn’t really have cancer because they’re not bald.

I’m too scared to even go into recovery and get professional help but I know I have to. A huge part of this is controlled and once I go get help, it’s no longer in my control.

Everything I do and eat will be controlled by another person. And that scares me sometimes more than dying does. I guess that’s also a sad yet very real part of all of this.

I’m almost okay with dying. And it’s not like I actively want to die.

I’m not suicidal and I wouldn’t even really say I’m that depressed. Eating a lot though, that’s what makes me depressed, and gaining weight.

The scale is both my best friend and my worst enemy. I need it. If I went more than a few days without weighing myself, I would probably rip my hair out from the amount of anxiety I would get.

It’s my crutch. Whenever I see the number go down, I get so happy. It’s like an adrenaline rush.

I imagine the feeling is better than any drug. But if the number goes up, which is does a lot, I fall in a hole.

It’s like, what is wrong with me, why am I such a failure? I get so mad at myself.

When I look back at how much that scale effects everything I do, it makes me sick to my stomach. I know I’m sick and I know I need help and I’m going to get it but I’m just so scared.

I wish that I could recover and get better and be a role model to younger girls suffering and tell them: it is okay! And that if I got through it so can you but I’m just as deep into this illness as I have ever been. I’m not even 100% sure why.

I know the risks and I know what this sickness is doing to me. I’m going to get help and I will get better.

I don’t know how long it will take and I’m not expecting for it to be even close to smooth sailing but I am going to do it. I have to do it.

 

Mental health recovery stories about understanding yourself

8. How Your Mental Condition Affects Your Life

Atlanta, GA

I believe that mental illness is a condition that just affects someone’s mood and behavior. It may also affect how people react to things, and I think it can be a range of things.

I do know someone with a mental illness. He has ADHD, and it affects him most times because it’s like sometimes he can’t stay still for too long or he’ll get agitated by just standing for too long or sitting too long; in a sense, he has to be moving all the time.

His attention span is very short. But when he takes his medicine, it’s like he’s a vegetable.

I think mental illness is viewed in a negative aspect. People view people with mental illness as having some type of disease or they’re looked at as stupid or dumb.

I believe that mental illness is something that can be looked into, to be prevented in future generations. We can’t treat it like it’s not happening because it is. We just need to find treatments that can help put a stop to it.

9. How Mental Health Stigma Shapes Our Emotions

People are more aware of depression now than they have previously been because of the rise of social media. Social Media has decreased mental health stigma over time. Individuals are more likely to report their symptoms of depression than in the past.

I think, typically, we see more women coming forward, but I don’t necessarily think it affects men differently than it affects women. Men feel they should be able to push through more. The stigma exists a bit more for men than women.

I think sometimes women are a little more comfortable being vulnerable and talking about emotion. Men are not as merely as comfortable. There’s a magnitude of different ways you can help those who are suffering.

You can be there to support anyone struggling with mental illnesses. You can recommend and empower them to seek professional help.

Mental health is something that we all deal with. It is part of our everyday life.

When you’re young, a lot of times, your mental health is being shaped. As you mature and get older. your experiences and surroundings affect your mental stability. As you get older, mental health still remains as something you have to focus on and deal with on a daily basis.

We always have stressors in our lives and unpredictable situations that are occurring. Our mental health is part of how we react and overcome those situations. 

I think the more we normalize that people do have internal difficulties, the more it allows for everyone else to feel comfortable and seek help. It is about time that we decrease the stigma that has come along with mental health.

10. How Choosing a College Major Can Be Stressful

Cincinnati, OH

I’ve heard some people compare the stresses of one college major to another. They simplify it down to one being more difficult, the other easy, making it seem as if those majors we stereotype as more difficult have the ‘right’ to feel the effects of mental health issue.

Regardless of your major, you have a right to feel stressed out. You have a right to be anxious or upset because the struggles are personal to you.

They exist and therefore they are worth getting help for. I wish more people understood that.

11. How Being in an Abusive Relationship Led to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Brooklyn, NY

I am dealing with depression and I am currently undergoing treatment for PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).

What’s caused my struggles with depression and PTSD was being in a physically and sexually abusive relationship when I was in high school and he has not gone away.

He is actively stalking me and now it’s a risk to my safety as well as to those around me, so I’m currently working with Campus Safety, with the Dean and Law Enforcement. But the whole thing has been triggering because when you don’t want to deal with traumatic events, you repress it.

So that’s what I’ve done since I was 15 years old, I’m 20 now. And he reached out to me, so it brought everything back and so I kept it a secret from everyone; from my family, from those who love me and care about me, but I’ve had to open up to them.

The whole process of trying to move forward has been a difficult one and because of that I tend to have moments where something someone says or does can instantly bring me back to that moment.

It affects everything that I do because I’m always on edge. I’m constantly checking my surroundings because I feel like at any given moment my ex will show up. And the thing with depression is that it’s hard to do your day-to-day activities; there were some days when I had to force myself to take a shower.

It also affects my relationships. I was in a relationship that recently ended and a big reason why it ended was because I need help. In order to get help, I needed to detach myself.

I couldn’t be comfortable around him because I was so afraid. My fears told me “don’t get too close because he will hurt you.” So when I ended the relationship it was hard and that’s when I realized that depression and PTSD were taking over my life.

It’s a constant battle of fighting with myself to like myself and to tell myself that “you are not THAT” and that I am not what he did to me. Convincing myself that I am no longer a victim is the hardest part.

But, there comes a time when you realize that you have to acknowledge that you can’t do this on your own and that’s okay. I think that the biggest part of acknowledging that you need help, you need to realize that it’s okay to not be okay.

I was reluctant to get help because not only am I a woman, I am a Latina. In black and brown households, mental health isn’t a thing.

But I think it’s very important because if it’s affecting your day-to-day life, then you’re not living your true life unless you acknowledge that there’s a problem.

People who don’t understand what it’s like to live with a mental illness need to understand that if I could turn it off, I would in a heartbeat. I’ve been told countless times to “get over it” or that “it’s just your emotions.” But they need to understand that PTSD, specifically, is like a bad movie that you can’t turn off.

I don’t choose to relive these things, if I could forget about it, I would. We’re normal just like anyone else, but we are trying to overcome something that at times takes our self-control away from us.

12. How Writing My Thoughts Helped Me Cope With Mental Illness

Denver, CO

I’ve had issues dealing with anxiety and depression going back the last 5 or 6 years towards the end of my college career. I felt lost and suffocated in my own body.

I moved to Colorado hoping to get a fresh start but things only got worse and more suffocating.

I’ve seen psychiatrists and tried different medications, but the most helpful thing for me was therapy. Although it took me a few tries to find the best therapist for me, working with a professional has helped me to learn to process my own thoughts and feelings and take control of my life despite my mental challenges.

My advice for people with mental illnesses would be to write down your thoughts or let them out in some creative way rather than bottling them up and pretending they don’t exist. Also, to not be afraid to ask for help or to see a professional.

That first hurdle of finding someone to talk to is usually the hardest. But once you’re past that point, the difference it can make is massive. Don’t force yourself to be alone in this.

Am I cured of anxiety and depression? No, not even close. But I’m learning to manage it and I’m slowly starting to be able to breathe again.

13. How Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Affects My Daily Life

Binghamton, NY

I’m diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder and there have been times where it’s really taken control of my life. It was a lot worse when I was younger, like really really bad.

Before I did anything, I had to do a specific ritual. Before I went to take a shower, for example, I had to touch the light switch, walk a certain number of steps, turn around, touch my head, touch my hand to the wall, touch my nose to the wall, look in the mirror, and then finally I could go in.

I don’t know why I had to do that. It’s stupid but I had to do it every single time, and if I didn’t do it, I couldn’t shower.

I also could only look at the clock if it was on a quarter of the hour. If I missed it, I would have to sit there and stare at the clock until it became the correct time. Like, If I saw the clock at 12:16, I’d just sit there for 14 minutes until I could see 12:30, and if I didn’t, it would REALLY bother me.

I couldn’t step on any cracks on the road. Not because I was scared of breaking my mother’s back, but because I physically couldn’t do it; I couldn’t stand the thought of it. I could only step foot on the smooth parts of the road.

It’s been very impactful in all areas of my life. Before I did anything, I just had some stupid thing I had to do for no reason, but I felt like something bad would happen if I didn’t.

It’s not as bad anymore. It was so much worse as a kid. Maybe, I grew out of some of those particular rituals.

I know it [OCD] just doesn’t go away but the different things I feel compelled to change as I matured and learned new coping skills. Now, I’m beginning to be able to do things without all the rituals.

I can finally take a shower without twirling around for five minutes first like a normal human being. It’s more of an organizational thing now, which is weird because I’m the most disorganized person ever.

I still need to make sure all my papers and pens are straight and neat and perfectly even. It bothers me when things are out of place, so I try to put them in a line whenever I can.

I also still fidget with things all the time and feel like I need to sort things. If I had a bag, let’s say full of candy, I’d have to sort them into all the different colors.

I can’t do that. It’s blasphemous. I’d also have to count them all.

It’s definitely been hard to cope with. I’d just do all these rituals because If I didn’t, I’d get way too anxious and completely unable to function.

Everybody experiences OCD differently. Some people have it so badly they’ll wash the skin clean off their hands. I have heard of people who have dropped out of college to live in a completely disinfected basement because they couldn’t handle the thought of being in contact with germs.

It’s a really serious illness that affects a lot of people, and I truly feel for anyone who is suffering.

14. How I Try to Find Inner Happiness Amidst My Depression

Harrisburg, PA

I would characterize mental illness as a chemical imbalance of the brain where it affects not only someone’s emotions but the way they perform on an everyday basis.

Certain mental illnesses are not treated the same as others because people are ignorant of the knowledge of the disease.

For example, people think that people with depression are just sad people without realizing there is so much more to that. I haven’t been diagnosed with depression. But, I’ve spent several years being depressed and I know what it feels like.

Through 7th grade all the way to ninth grade, I suffered a real rough patch with my life at home. For those who don’t understand the feeling, please know that when your family life isn’t the best, you feel like everything is falling apart.

My depression affected the way I behaved in school and impacted my grades. I was constantly surrounded by negativity and had no escape. I felt like there was no place to be myself.

Every day, I would walk in my house and I would get knots in my stomach. And, I felt like I always walking on shells. My room became a safe space. During 10th-grade, when things started getting easier, I got another sneak attack of depression with another set of rough patches.

I joined a church in 10th grade to relieve my pain but the depression came back again. I realized, at that moment, that my depression had come back once again. It wasn’t getting handled and no one was taking me seriously because I was so young.

I felt so empty and alone. I tried to talk to my bishop about that feeling and he disregarded it. He claimed I was feeling down because of the weather. But the weather doesn’t affect my emotions.

My advice for anyone who suffers from depression is not to be afraid. Learn, little by little, to cope with the feeling. I truly believe that depression never goes away. But we can all definitely try to find our inner happiness.

15. How I Learned to Manage Stress

Harrisburg, PA

Google defines stress as the ‘state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.’

As a student, I certainly know this feeling along with the emotional and physical damage one can experience due to significant amounts of stress. It can lead to severe mental disorders, like depression or anxiety.

Although I do not believe I have ever been affected by depression, I have experienced the side effects of increased amounts of stress. A time I remember being the most stressed took place in my senior year of high school.

During this time period, I had not decided where I was going to attend college which scared me due to the unknown approaching so quickly.

At that time, I was president of two clubs and sat as a student representative on my districts board, while working two jobs to save money for my college expenses. All of this, on top of a relationship, where I felt trapped and unhappy in, pushed me too far.

I experienced shakiness in my body, increased heart rate, headaches, a loss of appetite, sociability, and disinterest in activities I used to enjoy.

I believed that in order to get through this hard time in my life, I had to keep pushing through my stress, which I later found untrue.

A huge part of my stress came from being in this relationship. If I could give my younger self advice, I would tell her to break off this unhealthy relationship because of the anxiety he caused her.

I would tell her to learn to eliminate her stressors and learn to not wallow in her sufferings, but to advocate for herself and eliminate unnecessary origins of stress.

This, of course, does not mean stop studying for classes because they stress you out, but to learn to plan your day and better manage your time.

I believe one should push themselves to achieve great things, and put in the work to achieve those things, but always know that there are ways to lessen your stress. 

Through accommodating to your situation and eliminating people or extra activities out of your life that are triggers for stress.

 

Mental health recovery stories about opening up

16. How to Open Up About Mental Health

Clinton, NJ

Personally, I do have my own issues. I’ve had eating disorders and anxiety in the past and I have depression now.

For most people, until someone else opens up about their struggles with mental health, they really don’t open up about it. You know it’s kind of hush hush.

I feel that the campaign to talk and open up about mental health has helped me and others be open about our struggles. I mean, you never really know how many people around you are going through something.

I’ll hear from friends that they struggle with their mental health, and I never would have known otherwise unless they talked about it. If it were a more physical ailment, then you’d know about it right away.

It’s weird that one of your friends could be having issues for years and you wouldn’t know anything about it.

I feel that social media does play a part in the state of people’s mental health to an extent. People can make it look that they are doing a lot better than they are.

And if you’re someone looking at that comparatively, you can start doubting yourself, especially when you’re comparing their highlights to your weaknesses everyday. It’s also all that time we spend on our phones that’s hurting us.

Personally, I know that when I’m surrounded by people, I have less burden on my head but when I am by myself it’s easier to slip into a more negative emotional state. 

Anyone who is having issues with mental health should try to do something about it because if you don’t, it can destroy you.

17. How Depression in Young Adults Is Greater Due to High Standards

Social standards and education standards are definitely factors that can contribute to depression in young adults.

Compared to my parents, I feel like there’s so much more of a pressure to get a good education. To go to graduate school and all that stuff.

I think that’s a huge influence. Your parents want you to do better, and the standards are set higher for us than they were for them. I think mental health is underrated.

When I was first diagnosed, I was devastated that it would take pills to make me ‘normal.’ But soon I realized that everybody struggles with mental health. Everyone experiences it at some point in their lives.

I think it’s so underrated and people look at it like it’s a negative thing, like you should be institutionalized, and I don’t think it’s to that extent.

I think if people reach out and get help, they’ll be so much happier. Bringing awareness to the fact that it is a problem is important.

People need to stop seeing mental health as merely a problem. It’s something that can be dealt with when the right resources are available.

18. How Having Someone To Talk to Can Help Anyone Coping With a Mental Illnesses

Brooklyn, NY

Mental illness is not only a disease of the brain but it is not having control of your actions and behaviors on a day to day base. Being a nurse in a special unit, I work with people that have bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Believe it or not, I actually got really close to my patients. It breaks my heart knowing that people from society believe my patients and many others that share the same disease think they are weird or crazy when that’s not the case.

My personal experience with people with mental illness is that majority of the time, they want someone to talk to.

Being a nurse that works with people with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, I have to take precautions and protect myself because they have bad days like anyone else. Overall, I love my job and my patients.

19. How Asking for Help Eased My Mental Health Struggles

Cincinnati, OH

There have been times where I had to cry out for help when I needed it. Looking back, I’m glad I did.

I’m not embarrassed to say that I needed help because I did. Where I sought it out, I found it. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help. In fact, so many people are willing to help you. But, we oftentimes hide our issues and keep them to ourselves.

Everyone has had an experience struggling with mental health. And, once we open up to others about the realities of the struggle, it becomes much easier to connect and then heal. If we just voice our pain and our struggle, there are solutions.

A reminder here though is that just because you are struggling with something like anxiety or depression does not mean that you’re broken. It means that you’re human.

20. How Suffering From Disorders Affects My Emotions

Manhattan, NY

I suffer from dissociative depressive disorder and borderline personality identity disorder. A lot of people will try to undermine these illnesses or say they’re not real disorders, but they are and they suck.

I’ve struggled with a lot of trauma in my life and sometimes when I experience these traumatic situations, I don’t even realize how bad they are because my body dissociates from it and that’s a real issue I have to deal with.

Day to day, things seem okay because I can go for long periods of time without experiencing depression, but once it does come back, it hits me like a truck and I can’t get out of bed for days.

My mental health has affected my relationships a lot because once I reassociate with any negative emotions, they just go into overdrive. Because of this, I tend to be overly emotional and overreact to a lot of things.

I don’t feel like I know who I am a lot of the times, and I don’t understand why sometimes I don’t feel something and other times, I feel too much. It’s rough.

Also because of this disorder, sometimes I don’t take care of myself enough which causes me to gain weight and get acne.

It definitely takes a physical toll on my body, which is why I think self-care is so important. I try to surround myself with people who understand me and won’t judge me for the actions that I can’t control.

You have to find people who understand that at the times you might act really cold or standoffish, it isn’t because you don’t wanna be there for them and they shouldn’t take it personally.

It is also important for me to actively try to reassociate with my emotions so that my depression will be easier to cope with in the future.

21. How Borderline Personality Disorder Affects My Mental Health

New York City, NY

Mental health professionals should always be honest with patients and tell them exactly what they have. Even if it could be something scary or harder to cure.

I have a borderline personality disorder. And, at first, I was misdiagnosed as bipolar because the therapist didn’t want to tell me the truth.

So I was on medication that didn’t work and I was getting more and more distant from my emotions and disassociating them.

Eventually, I decided to study the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) and I self-diagnosed myself with a Borderline personality disorder (BPD). I found a therapist who gave me medication and it actually worked.

It’s a rollercoaster. Some days, I feel everything too strongly or not at all. But the best piece of advice I’ve gotten is to just take it one step at a time.

You have to give yourself days where you’ll just not feel okay. Do not blame yourself. You also need self-care days where you just lay in bed and take a bath.

Mental health isn’t black and white and not everyone fits into the categories that are shown in the media.

Depression and anxiety has gotten easier to talk about because it’s shown more in media. And people think it’s okay to have it.

However, for people with other disorders like personality disorders, they don’t see it being talked about. So they feel ashamed to talk about it, which leads to them hiding it completely sometimes.

For me, it was hard to come out and say I’m not okay because I wasn’t just depressed. It was more and I didn’t hear anything about it so I was afraid.

If we normalize mental health and make it known that it’s okay to not always be okay. Then, more people will come forward and get the help they need.

22. How Talking to People Helps Me Overcome My Anxiety

Willingboro, NJ

You don’t want to be the one who cries wolf, be the one who is labeled as weak or for people to give you less because of what you come with.

That stigma of being weak, and not being able to do certain things because of something going on in your life can make people feel ashamed.

We need to learn to embrace people and what they come with. We need to learn to work with them in their best environment and embrace and support into their goodness.

I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression. But it’s how you overcome it and your perspective on how you look at it what truly matters.

As a college student, looking at financial aid, focusing on academics can be stressful. Everyone just wants the best from you. And, you don’t know where it is yet. It is hard not to feel the pressure.

I’m just dealing with growing into an adult figure right now. I want to be independent and learn how to grow without the help of my parents. The mechanism I use to cope with my insecurities and stress has changed throughout the years.

Before, I used to be active in sports, and that was a huge stress reliever. Now, I like to take nice long drives or just talk to my sister. I also try to think of happy things.

Another thing that really helps me when I am depressed is talking to people. I find that when I compliment other people, I feel much better about myself.

Talking to people allows me to release my emotions and feel that I am not alone in my struggle.

23. How I Struggled To Talk About Depression as a Black Woman

New York, NY

I have never really fully told my loved ones I suffered from depression. I wouldn’t say I was diagnosed with depression. However, I know the feeling of depression and that shit is not what’s up.

With my upbringing, you are not supposed to talk about depression in the black community.

Being from DC and raised in a Nigerian home, we do not talk about depression and mental health. All African parents do is tell you to try harder in life and give your problems to the Lord.

As a young black woman in graduate school, black women are always pressured to have it all together. Perfect job, perfect education, and especially perfect relationship. Black women can’t be sad.

We have to put up this front that we are stronger than we look. That we have it all together when clearly sometimes we don’t. Black women aren’t taught to ask for help. We use our thinking caps and we fix it ourselves.

During my dark times in college, I have tried to scream help to my parents, knowing I can’t. To this day, I still have bottled up anger from something that happened years ago. Keeping things to myself and bottling up has been a huge factor in my depression.

Whether it was about relationships or school, I don’t talk about them because I was raised to not talk about it. My depression can be on and off sometimes, but I still suffer from anxiety.

Luckily being in New York, I have met other young black women like myself to talk about these things.

I am usually not the type to open up to just anyone but for some reason, I confide in them. I am still working on not bottling things up and not let my depression get the best of me.

But I will say, things are looking up for me. I graduate from grad school in May and I am going to Los Angeles for a job opportunity. I am strong. I will say that but it is never too weak to ask for help every now and then.

 

Mental health recovery stories about pursuing hobbies

24. How Doing De-Stress Activities Helps Alleviate My Anxiety

My greatest goal in life is to be successful in whatever I end up doing after college, so that trumps the fluctuations in my moods on a daily basis.

However, it can be difficult to stay positive from day-to-day since I do have fairly bad anxiety. But I always try to breathe, relax, and tell myself that nothing is permanent.

I also have a private Tumblr blog that I don’t share with anyone; when I’m stressed I just write all of my emotions and thoughts down and that helps reduce my anxiety. I’ve also been re-watching ‘The Office’ episodes; comic relief does wonders.

My de-stress activities also help alleviate anxiety. What I have found especially helpful is doing more of a body-building workout routine to help me really exhaust my body and my mind.

The best way to deal with a panic attack is to breathe through it and wrap yourself in a thick, warm blanket if you’re alone. This has helped me a lot when I experience them.

My best advice to others seeing someone in the midst of a panic attack is to literally embrace them. Say encouraging words, tell them to breathe, and ask them to talk.

Don’t say anything negative, just keep things light and focus on helping them through the storm. In a stressful situation, what has worked best for me is to have a cup of tea, and don’t be afraid to talk about what you’re going through.

The absolute worst thing you can do is to bottle it up.

25. How Pressure Triggered My Struggle With Anxiety

Brooklyn, NY

Dance has become an outlet for me because growing up being the oldest and always having to be a role model doesn’t leave much room for errors.

I needed to find some way to get my other emotions out. My body just moved to music without my permission.

Originally, I didn’t want to be a dancer. I played football and started taking ballet to become lighter on my feet and from then on, I was hooked.

I realized that dance was important to me as an outlet for any mental health issue I was experiencing. There are some things that words just cannot express.

It’s like the phrase ‘a picture speaks a thousand words.’ But with dance, words aren’t enough to get back to feeling yourself.

It helps me cope with my anxiety and stress. It gets my mind off of anything that’s not going to keep me under control. Dance is my outlet for all of my emotions.

If anyone is struggling with any mental illness, I would say once you find YOUR thing and don’t let anything stop you. When you find that special way to let everything go, you’ll start to feel more like yourself.

26. How Listening to Music Helped Me Manage My Depression

Nyack, NY

I first noticed I had depression when I realized that society was not based on the love people had for each other. But based on the money people had and the things people can do for each other.

The culture shock I experienced coming from a Latin country to America was very harsh. Society discriminates against you by the color of your skin, social status, how you talk, how you dressed.

Basically, you were judged for anything that made you different. Also seeing the way my family and friends were treated in society was heartbreaking for me.

That type of stress started tearing me and my friends apart because everybody started pointing fingers at each other. The thing about depression is that it makes you super sad. And it takes all your energy away.

I was generally a happy person but everything that was going on around me eventually took its mental toll. I realized that hospitals and therapists really couldn’t help me because they generalized everybody’s depression.

And they gave me the same basic answers like anybody else would. I decided at that point that I needed to find my own way to deal with my problem. And that was music for me.

I found music to be my escape from all of my problems. I feel like anybody who is going through any type of difficulties in life should find a way to manage it.

Finding something that can take you to another place where your mind and emotions can be at peace, without the use of drugs, is very important.

27. How Creating Music Helped Me Find Happiness

New York, NY

Trying to find happiness and keeping your emotions balanced sounds easy. But it can be a tough challenge in today’s demanding time.

Coming out of high school, I dealt with a lot of struggles such as finances, keeping relationships, and friendships while trying to figure out what I want out of my life.

It took its toll on me and for a moment, I wanted to give up on everything. I was suffering from depression and anxiety from being overwhelmed as a young teen but being looked at and treated as an adult.

I was never taught how to deal with my emotions so true happiness was hard to interrupt.

I didn’t know if the materialistic things I see on tv was what I wanted or to search for the love and support I never had. Friendships and relationships, nowadays, are built based on a ‘what can you do for me now’ system.

I knew I could never put my trust in people because there wasn’t going to be true love. Once they could not use me anymore, I was dead to them.

I felt alone, my family would try to be there for me but I was at a point in life where I couldn’t tell the fake love from real.

But through all my struggles, music was the only consistent and most reliable thing in my life. So I started producing beats so that it could help me deal with my emotions.

It took some time but I finally learned how to express my emotions through music. I started feeling less pressure and stress on myself for every track I put together.

For every drum or flute melody I placed on a string with a chorus, the more I noticed the grin that was stretching my cheekbones out from ear to ear.

For the first time, I experienced freedom. I finally realized what happiness was. I soon started sharing my music with people, and it was so pleasing to put a smile on their face.

Life started becoming easier to deal with. And before I knew it, I had people that genuinely loved me for who I am.

Life isn’t always easy to deal with but you can’t let it overwhelm you. Find things that can help you express yourself. Do things that can make you forget the pain and just enjoy the fact you’re here healthy and able to live for another day.

28. How I Learned To Cope With Anxiety

Wisconsin

I am a student, in the National Guard, and a supervisor at a restaurant. I will be graduating in May. Eventually, I would like to own a restaurant that caters to queer women. I have been battling with anxiety since starting college in a different state.

I was involved with a woman and it was an abusive relationship, so much so that it brought on anxiety. As time went on, the girl eventually got kicked out of our place. I ended up not wanting to be in the state anymore and transferred to my hometown of Wisconsin.

Even when I would go back there to visit, I would be anxious because I could have possibly run into her or her friends, that would not have treated me fairly either. Understand that it is not a fear of her or them.

Since it was such a traumatic experience with her, just thinking of situations we were in would bring on an anxiety-induced episode.

Reading into things too much is often the cause of my anxiety in any situation. Recently, I came out to my family and that definitely took a toll on me, but I was able to get through it.

At my current job, as a supervisor, there was a situation that made me very anxious. I had received a text pertaining to job performance. I began to overthink the text message and in turn began to question my position as a supervisor. Even though I know it was not directly aimed at me.

In general, my anxiety does not impact my performance daily at work. I am able to manage it. The only time it severely affects my job performance is when there is an external factor in my life causing me to overthink.

Therapy has helped a lot to cope with anxiety, as well as coloring, and staying busy. Depending on the situation, it’s easier to talk through it with others and gain insight into the situation I am dealing with.

The military only becomes a stressor if it takes priority over everything else and does not allow me to get other things done.

I would say to young people that are also dealing with anxiety:

‘This does not limit you or define you. Push boundaries to expand the limits you set for yourself. Find ways to cope and learn and grow from it.’

 

Mental health recovery stories about taking mental health seriously

29. How Mental Health Affects Everyone Differently

Everybody should be more educated about mental health. It’s an issue that’s stigmatized in the mainstream media even though over 18% of the U.S. population struggle with some sort of mental illness.

As someone who struggles with panic attacks, I often feel that my emotions are seen as ‘overreactions’ or ‘attention seeking.’

However, with any health issue, it’s important to keep the door open for conversation. It is crucial to continue researching medications and practices that will help those affected to feel comfortable in their daily lives.

I think we must also keep in mind that not everyone experiences mental health issues exactly the same as anyone else does.

Therefore, certain medications and treatment programs can be helpful to one individual and harmful to another, so it’s important to research and regulate ways to cope with mental health.

30. How Living With Mental Illness Does Not Define Who You Are

Harrisburg, PA

Mental illness doesn’t define the people who are living with it nor should other people judge them based on that.

I would say that mental illness has been frowned upon for many years now. People are not acknowledging mental illness due to the stigma that is attached to the term.

People who encounter a mental illness encounter an imbalance in their bodily chemicals, which to me means that it causes mood swings and other mental instabilities. What people fail to realize is that people that have a mental illness are simply living with mental illness.

I personally know people that have a mental illness because I work with them. This experience has allowed me to view life from their perspective and to understand what mental illness is.

31. How To Talk About Mental Health To Take It Seriously

Depression makes everyday activities seem like a chore or a sport.

It takes more energy than usual to motivate yourself to even start the task and then complete it. If you don’t have the support in your day to day life, the drain on yourself is even greater.

It’s hard especially since it doesn’t show physically. And people are more understanding of physical injuries or strains.

In my opinion, depression and anxiety are the easiest topics in mental health to talk about because it seems like the most common. In media, depression and anxiety aren’t portrayed as scary things either.

Many horror movies have villains that are sometimes diagnosed with mental illnesses such as dissociative identity disorder or schizophrenia. Because of these movies, people associate those disorders with violent and scary things. Thus, making them uncomfortable to talk about.

It’s all in how the media portrays mental illnesses because not many people personally know someone with more extreme types of mental illnesses. The only knowledge they have is from the media.

Everyone has a different reaction to mental health. Some people take it seriously and they are willing to help you. Others just brush it off or completely ignore it so they don’t have to deal with it.

Change is hard and when you’re dealing with a mental illness, that change is even harder. It is never too early to start mental health care.

If we can change the narrative of mental health from what is portrayed in media, the more correct information will get out there.

Instead of being seen as a movie or show plot, mental health will be taken seriously. Everyone should talk about mental health or just make themselves open to talking about it or hearing about it.

32. How Generalized Anxiety Disorder Affects My Mental Health

New Jersey

I have been battling with Generalized Anxiety Disorder for a couple of years. I realized it when I entered my first year, in my graduate program in 2012.

I felt an increased amount of worry, nervousness, fatigue, and irritability. It feels like being in a car and you have no control of the speed or the direction it is going.

Once I would start feeling this way, it was difficult to declutter my mind and shake the feeling of nervousness, and multitasking felt increasingly more difficult. Then, one day it escalated into a panic attack.

I was driving and began to feel light-headed, disoriented and my heart began to beat faster. It limited me in driving and it didn’t allow me to relax.

I had endless sleepless nights and I couldn’t focus on anything. My panic attacks also increased when I did decide to drive.

With my change of environment and reduction of stress, I have been able to overcome anything that has surfaced. I can destress quicker now, and I don’t get panic attacks as often as before.

In a way, I beat what was crippling me. However, I do know that this is something that will some way, shape, or form come back.

I’m not scared anymore though. I know this is something I can manage without a struggle.

Similar to a demon, you know you can battle it. No surprises.

In my career now, I am able to help people deal with something similar to what I was experiencing. It’s rewarding because I often realize things I’m speaking on can help me. I hope to shine a brighter light on my disorder, so I can help others.

33. How I learned To Live With Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Ithaca, NY

I moved to Ithaca, New York when I was nine years old. After years and years in foster homes, different schools and countless new faces, I was ready to settle into this idea of ‘Home.’ 

The first ten years of my life are the most vivid and the most shaping.

I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a young teenager. Then came the crippling anxiety that creeped into paranoia, depression, dissociation and uncontrollable moods.

I went without sleep for days at a time, but I had nightmares when I did rest. Self-harm and suicide attempts all led me to psychiatric centers.

Pity. I get a lot of pity when I share my story.

I used to think of my story as a sad one. Sometimes I still do. But pity didn’t make me stronger. What made me stronger was talking about my experiences and taking medications to balance the brain chemistry.

When people called me crazy, I took that as an opportunity to stand up and talk about why I am the way I am. And, that healing looks like many things.

I am proud to say that it’s been over two years since the last time I was admitted to a psychiatric center.

I’ve been off medications for well over a year, and while I go back and forth in the wisdom of that decision, I have done incredible things for myself. I see a therapist every week.

I have a consistent job that I love. I built myself a stronger network of people I trust; family, friends, teachers and mentors.

I have the support and guidance to ensure that I am safe. That I am valued, and that I am loved. For me, that is important in my healing journey.

I won’t pretend that everything is okay and that I am ‘healed.’ In the past year, I have been dealing with my PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), a phobia and complete dissociations.

It is scary work, but somehow, I see myself better off learning how to cope rather than letting fears and paranoia control me.

I am a glorious work-in-progress. This is a lifelong journey, and it appears like I need to deal with my obstacles. And today, right now, I am okay with that.

34. How I Learned To Manage My Bipolar Disorder

New York City, NY

A young white man with a beard and brown hair shares how he overcame his bipolar disorder in his life.

I became aware of my bipolar disorder when I was sent to a mental health institute after telling people I wanted to take my own life at the age of 16. They diagnosed me with it there after monitoring me for about 30 days and put me on medication.

Having bipolar disorder has made everything more difficult.

Because of my severe ups and downs, irritability, anxiety, loss of interest/pleasure in things, difficulty concentrating, and tons of other issues that come from it, I had problems with skipping a lot of class in high school and ended up dropping out.

I’ve quit multiple jobs because I can’t deal with stress very well. Having a mental illness in general drains a lot of energy just to ‘stay alive’ & be ‘okay.’

Depression especially lies to you and tells you that you’re worthless, so that affects your mindset and outlook on life a lot , and when you think of the things you tried to do and failed, it makes it more believable.

But, that’s not to say that people can’t manage it better and be successful, because people can and do, especially with the right treatment.

I’ve learned a lot of coping skills over the years, both by myself and through therapy. 

Mainly, including calming myself down from anxiety by wording things differently in my brain, like if something didn’t go entirely right I can say ‘this part did go right’ or something.

I have to try to keep my mind busy/distracted from the negative thoughts, which sometimes even results in temporarily ‘disconnecting from reality’ by playing a game, watching science fiction once in a while, listening to new music, or just sitting/laying down trying to relax.

Other times, it’s great to have people who can relate to talk to about it; having social media where a lot of people relate to me has helped me a lot, and I feel good about being able to help them at times too which makes me happier.

I’ve learned to manage my illness better by understanding it.

Instead of giving up on something because I’m frustrated, I take breaks and believe/know that I can do it. So failure is usually more successful now for one thing.

By becoming more positive in general, telling myself those things, reading them, telling them to other people, it’s actually made me feel more positive.

I’ve also become a more sympathetic/caring person because of what I’ve gone through and deal with. And I have learned how it can affect other people too.

I used to be a lot more of an angry person and took out some of my problems on other people.

Now, I often care a lot about and make some sacrifices for other people, but ultimately if my mental health needs care, I have to put that first to be okay, then come back to what I was doing.

Sometimes you take some steps back, I suppose, but you don’t really lose the mental progress in what you’ve learned, and what’s made you strong to be able to deal with the future.

It’s just more like a bump in the road, even when it’s a rather severe one that can send you off the road completely, you can get back on it with time/healing and keep going.

 

Mental health recovery stories about going to therapy

35. How Seeking Help Saved Me From Ending My Life

Philadelphia, PA

Around April 2012, I was diagnosed with depression. I was in 8th grade when I started experiencing my mental illness.

I started losing interest in everything. At that moment, everybody didn’t understand what I was going through.

I shut down people and isolated myself to the point that I lost all my friends. My parents did not want to believe that I was depressed when all I wanted to do was talk to them. They thought that I was faking it and that I was just doing it for the attention.

That situation delayed me from seeking help and it led me to start cutting myself and trying to end my life.

It took me a while to find help and this help was my school counselor. She convinced my parents to take me to a psychiatrist so that I could stop trying to end my life.

This world is messed up. Nobody ever believes that someone who needs help actually NEEDS HELP.

It took me almost two years to get therapy after I was diagnosed with depression. Parents should be understanding and helpful when it comes to mental illness.

36. How Our Ability To Communicate Can Help Us Overcome Mental Health Issues

Chicago, IL

I’m currently a licensed professional counselor. I love working in the field. I feel that one of the greatest gifts we have as humans is the ability to communicate with each other, support each other, and be altruistic.

For me personally, there is no greater feeling than knowing that I have done well for somebody. And to know that I have helped put somebody in a better place than they were before they met me.

There are a lot of limitations you run into if you work in this field. It can be pretty challenging from a treatment perspective as far as being able to do all that we want to do for the client.

These limitations can range from under funding, to under employment, to anything. We have a long way to go, and social media is not helping. People always have the tendency to compare themselves to others. That’s just how we behave as humans.

Decades ago when you would hear your news through the grape vine or in passing conversation. Now it’s literally on our phones; attached to us. And it’s all up in our face 24/7.

I don’t feel like we are in the dark ages when it comes to the conversation of mental health. I feel that people are more forth coming than they have ever been.

I mean we still have a long, long way to go.

There is still a stigma and there are still so many people who are in the dark. By dark, I mean they themselves have their own issues and would like them addressed or can’t find the basic resources or courage to do that for many reasons.

37. How Getting Professional Help Improve Your Mental Health

Parkton, MD

I think there’s a large negative stigma around anything mental health-related. It doesn’t matter the degree of it or the severity.

I think that no matter how severe, people are afraid to talk about it because they don’t want to get judged for it. They don’t want to get bullied for it.

My thoughts are that it has more to do with how people will react to it than their own feelings about it. Mental health is just as important as physical health. We stress eating right, going to the gym, and all that stuff.

I think mental health is just as important because it’s just another thing that makes an individual healthy.

Just having a person that you know you can 100% confide in is super comforting, but you can also encourage them to get professional help. Be honest with them.

Getting professional help can help you identify the root problem of your mental health issue. It can also help you develop a support network.

A lot of people do not seek professional help because they feel that it is a sign of weakness. And it is not. Just like we go visit doctors when we have physical pain, it is important to visit mental health specialists when we are struggling mentally.

The more we talk about mental health, the lower the stigma will be so it’ll be more helpful for the people suffering from it.

38. How Mental Health Services Are Important for the Youth

Cincinnati, OH

I wish access to resources for mental health was easier or less taboo. Everyone goes through periods in their lives where they need help, whether it’s short term or long term.

I think that for the youth, especially those in middle school, high school, and college, resources regarding mental health services should be reiterated again and again.

 Sometimes people just need an extra push in the direction of someone who can help them.

39. How Seeking Help Improved My Depression

I had depression during my divorce at a young age that also involved my young kids at the time. Knowing I would not be around my children all the time and wondering what negative effects it could have on them took an emotional toll on me.

The thought of my kids thinking the divorce was their fault weighed heavily on my mind. Getting a divorce with young kids is a very stressful and depressing situation. 

Especially, when you have to factor in how it will affect the kids, how communication between you and the kids will be, and how far will you live from your kids.

The best thing I did during this time period was to go to calm, comfortable, and relaxing places such as church and hang around people and places that got my mind off things.

I had to learn that moping around in the house was not going to help me get through things neither was thinking the world was against me.

I had to realize that my life was important to me, and there’s always a chance things will get better. The advice I would give to anybody dealing with depression is to first stop thinking you have to do everything on your own.

There are other people out there that are dealing with the same things you are dealing with and can help you through it. They also can seek help from other individuals, which is what I did at my church.

Be active in the community so you can see that you matter to people and that you can be greatly appreciated.

40. How Therapy Helped Me Overcome Depression

Ithaca, NY

I think how people deal with fear tells a lot about their character, the real content of their guts.

When I moved to New York City after four very intense years of college, I buckled under the pressure of fear. My usual outgoing and loud demeanor were replaced with a cautious and shy one. I stopped loving to do anything I used to.

Although that period of depression gave me a mix of a restful and anxious time to write and think about past trauma, it also gave me waves of self-doubt about my abilities as a writer, friend, daughter, girlfriend, artist, and sister.

I spent my first year in New York in a haze of anxiety, which leads me to believe I didn’t like a city that I had wanted to move to since being a little girl in rural Upstate New York.

This haze eventually turned into a cycle of bad decision making and guilt, which lead me to take this past summer and fall semester off from work under the guise of ‘working on my writing,’ but what was actually a time that I worked on myself.

During that time of recovery, I began seeing a therapist weekly, I began exercising, and focusing on things I loved cooking, dancing, and art. Alongside my regained confidence, I started to write more.

If it wasn’t for my incredibly supportive and motivating partner, Noah, I’m not really sure how these past two years would have turned out.

Alongside being vulnerable with me that he was scared too, he encouraged me to see a therapist, to exercise, to make friends, and be vulnerable.

I highly recommend that anyone who is suffering from depression, anxiety, or PTSD first and foremost not be afraid to ask for help or admit that you aren’t feeling okay.

As a tough-exterior person, I can tell you that even admitting I wasn’t myself was the hardest part of crawling out of the depression hole I landed in.

Once you’ve found yourself comfortable enough to admit how you’re feeling, your next step should be to seek out a therapist or counselor.

I recognize that not everyone has access to counseling and that this is definitely a privilege that I’m exercising.

But as someone who couldn’t afford to even pay copays out of pocket, I can tell you that if you are someone who cannot afford to counsel, there are people who want to help you.

Many colleges and graduate programs offer 10 sessions if you are in their health care program: use this resource. Many high school counselors have the ability to point you in the right direction of finding a group and one-on-one therapy.

There are even therapists who go for a ‘pay what you can’ model if you do not have insurance. It’s so scary to even start the process, but the results are truly life-changing.

Talking to someone, especially a professional as wonderful as my therapist, has truly changed some of my negative thinking patterns. When I was in high school and college, I would have panic attacks almost every day.

That led me to be irritable, unkind, and careless with my words. Since seeing a therapist, I cannot remember the last time I had a panic attack.

My last piece of advice is to be gentle with yourself. We live in a world where everyone wants to be noticed for their craft. And sometimes that can make even ‘getting started’ seem terrifying.

Give yourself time to blossom. Have moments of vulnerability and fear, and then turn that into art or magic. We are all capable, but we are all also allowed to be weak sometimes.

So, I’ll leave you with this: this year is your year to take care of yourself in the most loving way you can. Now do it!

41. How Being in The Military Triggered My Depression

Washington, DC

I was in the military for 6 years and I am currently in cosmetology school. I have felt a huge sense of freedom since getting out of the military.

I would say I have a very bubbly personality and I love to laugh. Currently unsure of what I want to do in the future.

I felt extremely stressed and depressed while in the military. While I was still serving, I was diagnosed with multiple things.

With all my diagnoses, they just threw different medications at me. At one point, I was on 6 different medications that caused me more harm than good. They even prescribed me something equivalent to Aleve for my severe back pain.

I was later informed I have fibromyalgia. I am currently prescribed only one kind of depression medication. When I am not on it, I also smoke prescribed medical marijuana that has helped more than anything else.

I smoke CBD dominant strains that are the medically beneficial chemical apart of marijuana. I have not had a depressive episode since March 2017.

It felt like the military induced the stress causing my episodes. To cope while I was in the military, at one point I was seeing my therapist weekly. It has been much easier to deal with my depression since separating from the military.

Before, I would stay in the house all the time and alienated myself from a lot of people. For those in the military that may be suffering, therapy is a great option. Keep in mind that medication is not necessary.

Talking to someone about how you feel helps a lot. But make sure you are comfortable with your therapist, which may take a couple of sessions to figure that out.

Try your best not to treat friends or family as a therapist, because, in turn, it adds more weight to there shoulders.

All in all, therapy is not something with bad side effects.

42. How Therapy Helped Me Overcome Depression

New Jersey

I was 9 years old in my closet, balling my eyes out, with no understanding as to why. From what I can remember, my day was great. Then, I had this overwhelming feeling of emotions, that usually only came if I fell off my bike.

As time went on, my episodes became more explosive. I would scream and yell and cry.

I started to break things in my room around 12. I’d punch holes in my door.

I had no idea where to place this demon within me. She wasn’t who I am.

I started to go to therapy upon my freshman year of high school. Around that time, I was also struggling with my sexuality.

After a few sessions, I was diagnosed with depression. This diagnosis gave me the answer to my sadness, often in the middle of a cheerful time.

Close to my 15th birthday, I came out to my mom and she was not taken back by it. She told me ‘I had a feeling.’

I started to use drugs heavily and self-harm to cope with this. The drugs were my saving grace in the mist of chaos, and the self-harm reflected my pain within.

I was 18 years old when I decided to take matters into my own hands to deal with my depression and not allow it to destroy what was left of me.

I began to see what I feel was the greatest therapist I have ever had the privilege of knowing. She helped with everything.

She helped me understand who this other version of me was. Thanks to her, I have not used prescribed medication in almost 5 years. I can deal with myself much better now and writing has become my only coping tool.

I’ve tattooed on my former cutting arm: ‘fighting my demons until my angels outweigh them.’ That is my everyday fight. I want any kid or adult going through the same thing to know that ‘ Life is worth it.

43. The Benefits of Therapy for Mental Health

Bronx, NY

When I was in my sophomore year of college, I was having a really hard time coping with a lot of the things in my life; from work, to school, to the passing of a lot of important people in my family.

It came to a point where I was no longer able to function outside of myself and my space.

I’ve never really been one to care that much about my mental health. As long as I was able to do my job and get homework done, I didn’t really care about the things that were going on in my mind.

It wasn’t until it started affecting my grades and my paycheck that I started to take it seriously. That’s when I realized that I had to do something.

I didn’t know what to do, especially in communities of color, mental illness isn’t really talked about.

Depression and anxiety are things that you can ‘pray away’ or ‘if you just have a better outlook on life you’ll be fine’ or ‘you have to make the choice to be happy’.

Yet, I was trying to make the choice, but it still wasn’t happening. I was trying to put in the effort, but my body and my mind weren’t connected, so that I could do that.

Thankfully, I had a support system, from home and on-campus, of people who realized that I wasn’t okay, no matter how much I tried to hide it. I had people who were close to me and who were able to put the fire under me to go see a therapist.

After a couple visits in therapy, I felt so guilty about it. I felt that if my parents found out that they’d be sad and feel like they had failed as parents. Or if my friends found out, they would think I was crazy.

I felt terrible for airing my dirty laundry. I wasn’t even thinking about myself and my well-being. Eventually, I started my journey for self-healing and self-discovery by starting my therapy sessions again.

I finally had a therapist who helped me view my mental health as homework, which is really good for me. Treating myself like work makes me know that I can do it. Cognitive brain therapy has been especially helpful for me.

My parents see mental illness as not really a luxury that I can afford as a woman of color. But I saw that I needed to make my mental health a priority or else I wouldn’t be able to be successful.

People need to realize that therapy can benefit anyone. It’s an open space to talk about anything that you’re going through.

It’s so important to change the conversation when it comes to mental illness and to make it more accessible for everyone.

 

Mental health recovery stories about finding simple joys

44. How Pursuing Happiness Helped Me Navigate My Mental Health Issues

Long Island, NY

In high school, I was at a point where I was struggling to find joy and a reason to live. The notion of just going to school to get a job and work all your life was very bleak to me.

I had nothing to latch onto, nothing intrigued me. I fell into a rough patch where I didn’t really see a point of going forward.

Growing up was just a waste of time and moving into societal slavery. But I found things that intrigued me and I put myself out there.

Instead of dwelling on harder times and the fact that yes, I’m going to work for the rest of my life and it may not all be great, I began pursuing things that interested me. It made me want to have a future and want to live my life.

Just getting over being sad and realizing tough times will pass is what gets me through it.

Having being at a point where I was ready to leave this earth made me realize that whenever I’m sad now, I think back and say okay, I was in a much worse place and things could be and have been worse. I will be okay.

45. How I Have Learned To Navigate Feelings of Emptiness

Long Island, NY

Regardless of all the good things people may seem to have in their lives, so many people struggle with feelings of emptiness.

Even after a great night with great people, sometimes I get home and find myself feeling like something is still missing or lacking from my life.

I can’t think of one person I know who isn’t dealing with some sort of struggle or unfulfillment.

Despite this lingering sadness that we cannot necessarily place a finger on, the best way I know to deal with it is through immersing yourself in whatever it is that you are passionate about.

Whether it be something simple, like listening to music on the walk to class, or more significant, like tackling something you’ve always wanted to try.

Sometimes doing small things that you enjoy can really make you excited about life again.

Another thing I’d like to mention is that people don’t always want wisdom and advice. Simply being there for someone and listening to them can really make a person feel appreciated.

Sometimes people prefer to be alone. Everyone copes with emotional distress, and we all do so in our own ways.

Instead of trying to suggest your solutions to others’ problems, I feel like the most proactive thing you can do is to simply show your support for someone along their journey.

46. How Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) Triggers My Anxiety

Union, NJ

I have Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). I get it from my father. A lot of times, I like to be organized with schoolwork and my acting career.

I want everything such as my scripts and even my guitar strings to be a certain way. It affects my time management and contributes to anxiety as I prepare for a performance.

I always get nervous before a performance, even if it’s just playing a song on my guitar for my friends. I did a showcase over the summer and I met a lot of people that had experience with acting and modeling.

I had some people ask me why I didn’t seem fazed by the spotlight. I’m used to being on stage but I still get really nervous. Although I do try my best not to show it.

My anxiety distracts me from preparing for my performance and I can become very overwhelmed.

Although sometimes it is more intense than other times, I usually take a few minutes to myself and take three big breaths to calm my nerves.

Then, I exhale really slowly, and I try to put my focus on one thing and that just helps me ride the rollercoaster of performing. Once I get passed the nerves, I just start getting comfortable. And, I’m able to perform to my best ability.

Taking care of my mental health keeps me level headed and it keeps my body healthy. In college, people deal with stress in different ways.

I personally discovered that doing yoga and meditation before I go to sleep helps me keep my blood flowing and releases the tension in my body. I’d say to everyone, just eat right and stay proactive to keep yourself in a good mental state.

47. How My Life With Cerebral Palsy Triggered My Mental Illness

Inwood, NY

I think mental illness is a serious problem in this country especially since there are people my age who are committing suicide. It has become more and more prevalent for our generation. And, I don’t think we are properly equipped as we should be.

Take me for instance. I grew up disabled. Being born with cerebral palsy was not my choice at all.

As much as my mother and father raised me to not think of myself as any different. Most of the time, it was difficult. When I got to college, things started to go bad for me. Trying to transport myself to different locations for my classes was difficult.

Being an adult for me was a slow process. Sometimes, I isolated myself from people because I thought I wasn’t good enough.

The only person that really understood what I was going through was my grandmother.

She was my muse, my happy place, my everything. She would give me positive affirmations every single day saying that I am enough and that I was going to do great things in life.

When she passed away in 2016, I was really depressed. Sure, I have my parents, my brother and his wife. But, I don’t think they understand my struggles like my grandmother did.

I still have my days where I just cry because she isn’t with us anymore. But I promised her that I will make her proud by any means necessary. Every day, I try to wake up with a positive mindset.

I tried to focus on everything that I have. Instead of everything that I do not have. Counting my blessings has made me appreciate life even more. I feel blessed for being alive.

48. How Becoming Stronger Helped Me Overcome Depression

Roxbury, NJ

I realized that I was dealing with depression during my freshman year of high school. There wasn’t a trigger that I can recognize. I didn’t realize what was happening to me until it progressed.

I started realizing that I was different in certain ways. The way I approached certain things and people, my attitude, my work ethic. I was changing and kind of becoming a different person.

All I ever did was my homework at the time. And even though I did my homework, my grades started slipping. My GPA lowered, and I was tired all the time.

I didn’t want to put in any effort because I figured no matter what I did I’d just be stuck in this rut. I felt like a failure. School was always my number one priority and at that time I lost track of everything.

I figured I couldn’t reach my goals and there was no point in trying so hard to end up as nothing. I wasn’t determined, and I didn’t see myself persevering.

I only opened up to my close friends. I didn’t really want anyone to know but at the same time I did, so they were the ones I turned to.

I wouldn’t really want anyone else to know because they might ask the typical question: ‘how you can be depressed? you have a great life.’ But nobody could actually live what I was living and only my close friends would really understand why I was like that.

I talked to my friends all the time. They helped me as much as they could, and no matter what I felt or thought about myself, they would try and reassure me that none of it was true. But a lot of it, I did myself.

I started exercising. Running helped me a lot because it’d clear my mind and offer times of peace. I realized that the way I felt wasn’t my fault and that I wanted to overcome it.

One day, I literally woke up and said to myself: ‘enough is enough! you are going to work on yourself and live a good life.’ I built up a lot of strength. I would wake up and try to recognize the good things in my days.

I pinpointed what made me laugh or smile. And I started to think to that those moments would come again and again and again. It offered hope.

I’ve changed a lot. I like to say that I’ve become a lot stronger, and a lot better. I don’t want to sound too proud of myself, but I truly know I am strong.

I didn’t know my own strength back then; I didn’t think I had any. But with all of it, I came out okay. It helped me realize that I’m not alone like I always thought I was.

It changed me in the sense that I need to look at each day as a gift. And that any other hardship that comes up in my life, I can and will get past because before, I thought I was never going to make it. But now, I know I can get through anything.

I also connected a lot to my religion. I look to God and trust my faith much more.

I see things different than I did before it all happened. I see things deeper and more beautiful than I did before. And I’m proud of that.

I know I have a lot to offer to the world now and that I can work to become anything I want to.

 

Mental health recovery stories about accepting yourself

49. How Transitioning Has Affected My Depression and Anxiety

Olympia, WA

I figured out that I was trans spring of my freshman year. I knew a couple of trans kids from high school. So I reached out to them and they really helped me start to figure it out.

I was never reluctant to accept it; I was fine with whatever was happening.

My biggest issue was not being sure of myself. I would say for, probably for two years, it was a period of time where I was just unsure of who I was. I didn’t know.

Was I a boy, a girl, gay, not gay? And not that it really should matter but it did to me. I wanted those labels for myself.

In the last year or so though, I’ve kind of come to terms with having less of a label and just being me. It’s definitely taken a lot of pressure off. I’m just here. I’m me and I do what I do.

I’ve struggled with mental health issues since I was in high school before I even realized I was trans.

I’ve been in therapy for a little over three years, on and off antidepressants. I’ve been diagnosed with depression and anxiety as well as some mild Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

But for the most part, my mental health has been unaffected by my transition. Since starting my transition, my depression has improved, whether that’s coincidence or not, I’m not sure.

To cope with depression and anxiety, I reached out to friends and spent a lot of time in the gym. Things that get myself out of my head are what helps the most.

I don’t consider myself even remotely close to being done transitioning. I still have a long road ahead of me. And regardless of my medical transition, I will always be learning and growing as a person. Trying to figure out my place in this world.

But like I said, my depression has gotten better since starting my transition, but my anxiety has gotten worse. I am so lucky that I have so much support, though. I have almost two separate support groups.

I have the people here at school and the people at home. Everybody is super supportive, which has taken a lot of pressure off and relieved a lot of anxiety.

Coming out to people at home, I think, was harder. Not because I thought they would react badly, but because I’ve known these people so long.

And the idea of family and life-long friends not accepting you is beyond scary, even when you know they’re going to.

They’re all still very accepting but it definitely took them a little longer to get caught up on names and pronouns since they’ve known me so long. Still, they were very supportive which again, was a huge relief.

I always talk to a lot of other trans guys and the biggest thing I always tell them is that you kind of just have to live for yourself and be yourself. If somebody out there doesn’t want to accept that, then that’s not someone you want in your life.

And I know that’s hard to accept sometimes. Especially, if it’s friends or family but you don’t want anybody that’s going to push hate and negativity into your life.

So just live for yourself and do not worry too much. Whatever is meant to happen, will happen.

50. How Being Asian American Defined My Experience With Depression and Anxiety

Burlington, MA

The first time I recognized my depression was in the eighth grade. But, when I realized my insurance wouldn’t cover the therapist my doctor referred me to, I faked a recovery I didn’t actually feel.

And, starting acting like this sadness was just a part of who I was, instead of an illness that affected every moment of my day.

My parents just wanted me to be okay. But, I didn’t feel like this was something I could put on them. I knew they would cover it out of pocket, but I rationalized it away.

Wouldn’t I feel worse, knowing I was putting them out like that? Wouldn’t knowing that they were paying so much get in the way of me getting better? I got awfully good at rationalizing away treatment.

Being Korean-American, I was always taught that mental illness wasn’t something discussed in Asian-American communities.

While my parents supported me when I told them I was struggling, I felt like I was alone in my experience as an Asian-American dealing with depression and anxiety.

I didn’t know where my diaspora ended and my depression began. I still don’t really know. My confession is this: I’m still not in therapy.

I’m still not getting the help I know I need and deserve. Because even on my best days, it is hard to accept that I am deserving of help.

It is hard to think about all the ways I have changed to accommodate my depression and anxiety.

And it’s scary to think about who I might be without them. And it’s easy for me to think that because I’ve come this far without it, I’ll be able to continue managing without it.

But I know that isn’t being fair to myself, and I know that I would never tell a friend that. So this is the year that I stop trying to rationalize or justify why I’m not in therapy.

I know that people who are marginalized because of their race, gender, sexuality, ability, and class are the ones more affected by a lack of access but the ones who need it the most.

I’m in a graduate program that includes access to counseling sessions. I’m worried that if I don’t take advantage of it now, in my last semester of the program, I might not try again.

Maybe, I am stronger and resilient knowing I have lived this long with my depression and anxiety.

But I know now that it’s okay to be gentle and soft. That being strong in a system that actively antagonizes you and denies your existence is exhausting.

I have tried for so long to be the strong one. I think I’ll try to be softer now.

51. How Trying To Be Perfect Triggered My Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Yonkers, NY

Ever since I was a little girl, I have always been trained to be perfect. Be the perfect daughter, perfect student, perfect best friend and perfect girlfriend. I am only a sophomore in college and I feel like I am straight into adulthood.

Did I also mention I am only 19? I’m from Yonkers. We are not trained to be depressed.

I think that’s how it goes down in every black and brown household. We are taught that we can’t be drained in self-pity and depression. We are taught to dust yourself off and try again.

When I first came to college, I really didn’t know what depression really was. I try to put up this picture of myself being so perfect and I am always on top of my stuff.

As people can see, I am always on my phone because I always try to make myself busy.

The summer after freshman year, I started having anxiety and panic attacks from all the load I tried to hide from myself. No one would know because I would always have people think that I have it all together.

I had to be real honest with myself about the fact that I am not perfect and that is okay.

Yes! I am a good student and all but I also make mistakes just like everybody else. Usually when I do something bad, I am always so down on myself.

Honestly, I am still working on that because that is not good for me. For the first time in my life, I am starting to embrace my mistakes.

Luckily, I have people in my corner who reassure me that it is okay to make mistakes and learn from them.

Just accepting myself and my mistakes has taken a hell of a load off of me. I look forward to more days loving myself and embracing future mistakes.

52. How I Learned To Control My Negative Thoughts

Orange County, NY

Going to an all-girls high school, you would think I did not have to deal with the normal problems most high school girls deal with. Wrong! I dealt with the same kind of issues just in a different way.

One of the many problems I dealt with was academics. During high school, I had to transfer from my old school because of budget cuts to a new school, outside my district, that I struggled with adapting to the new environment.

My teachers felt that I hadn’t had the proper education because of the district I came from. They treated me differently. I wouldn’t receive the same attention as the smarter kids.

Making friends was also hard since students tended to group up with who they thought were going to look good in terms of popularity, so I always felt like an outsider. Everything in school felt like a competition. It was very challenging.

My struggles at school led to anxiety and insecurity issues. I would always overthink everything. And I started stressing with the fact that I wasn’t good enough to attend my high school or even attend college.

The only thing that helped me get through this was talking to my friends and getting a lot of unhealthy thoughts off my chest. But even then, that wasn’t enough.

The thoughts of me not ‘being good enough’ for school escalated to ‘me not being good enough at all.’ These thoughts isolated me from my friends.

I thought nobody was ever going to like me, and that I would never develop a love life. I had to teach myself about self-love. It was not easy.

I tried really hard to make sure that any negative thoughts that would come to my mind would be replaced with positive ones.

I had to constantly remind myself that if I cannot love myself then how can I expect anybody to love me. Repeating that to myself everyday helped me a lot.

Little by little, I started realizing that I was valuable. That I was good enough. I realized that I was loved and that I had supportive friends that were there for me.

My daily routine of just reminding myself that I am good enough has transformed my life. Since then, my insecurities and anxieties have slowly vanished.

 

Mental health recovery stories about embracing friendship

53. How Interaction Is Important To Overcome Mental Health Issues

Plattsburgh, NY

When I think of people with mental illness, I think of soldiers because they battle internal and external adversities. Internal issues because of what is going on with them and external because of the way that society views them.

My mental illness started peeking when I was very young and now I’m about to be 20.

I never got the chance to rely on my parents because they never wanted to talk about it. It seemed like they were ashamed. I just knew it wasn’t something to discuss at the family dinner table.

My battle with mental issues has become part of my life. Some days are better than other ones. It has been a long journey but I have learned to live with it. I went through hell when I was younger because I felt alone.

I feel that interaction is important for anyone struggling with mental health because it allows you to open up and release your emotions. I suppressed my feeling for so long that it was very unhealthy. I was in a very dark place.

Everything changed when I decided to come to terms with my reality. When I accepted I needed help and decided to seek it.

Interacting with people that were going through the same issues I was experiencing was very helpful. It restored my hope. It gave me the courage to get better.

I feel that people with mental illnesses get pushed aside a lot because they are not seen as ‘normal.’

I feel the best way someone can change the views that are placed on individuals with mental issues is by interacting with them to understand them better.

54. How Remembering You Are Not Alone Can Help You Stop Feeling Low

Cincinnati, OH

Mental health is a difficult subject to discuss for a lot of people, myself included. I believe we are afraid of what will happen if we tell people what is going on inside our minds. I think we would be surprised to find out that we are not as alone as we feel.

When I think about mental health, I picture the ocean.

Depending on who you ask, you could get a multitude of scenes: families buildings and castles on the beach soaking up the sun; a storm creating waves that stretch up before crashing down to obliterate anything in their wake; a single person on a small boat with no one around for miles.

These images show life from the perspectives of people who’ve had different experiences.

The scene can vary from day to day, depending on what is going on in a person’s life. Sometimes, it can feel as though you are on top of the world. Nothing can stop you from achieving your dreams.

I have been extremely privileged in life when it comes to having lots of loving families.

I am blessed to have happy relationships with amazing friends, and getting an education that leads me in the right direction. I could not be more thankful for the great people I know and opportunities that have come my way.

That being said, there are also times where I have felt so low and defeated that I never thought I would be able to stand up again.

Times where I felt as if I was the only person on earth who had ever known the helplessness of being completely alone, stuck out on the boat, waiting for someone to save me.

I don’t have all the answers. What I have learned over the years is that things take time. Even though it can feel like the storm will never end and the waves will never let up. Eventually, they do.

I have also come to realize the vital role relationships play in maintaining good mental health. The times I have felt the best in life is when I am surrounded by people who support me.

I think the more mental health is discussed, the more people will understand that it is okay to have bad days and feel lonely as long as you remember that things will get better.

55. How Being Gay Triggered My Depression and Anxiety

New Paltz, NY

I have suffered from depression and anxiety for a significant portion of my life. I still do today.

I definitely think that there is a stigma against men being affected by mental illnesses. There’s this very hyper-masculine way of thinking that men shouldn’t show emotions, which is really ignorant.

For me, I’m gay, so I’ve never really thought of it like that, but there’s no doubt that members of the LGBTQ+ community experience mental illness extremely frequently and severely.

I think being queer sort of gives you a different perspective on mental illness. We experience everything so much different than that of a straight or cisgender person.

I feel like a lot of the time when you’re gay, most of your early life is spent hiding things, and pushing feelings away.

Because of this, I’ve gotten pretty good at lying to myself that I don’t have serious issues, and I’m fine. When in reality I really do need to find a therapist because my struggles are real and professional help is so important.

I think society doesn’t treat mental illness seriously enough most of the time. It’s horrible that it’s beginning to feel normal for so many of us to be so strongly affected by it on a daily basis.

Keeping yourself busy and surrounding yourself with loved ones is essential.

My friends and I all have so many issues. And, as hard as it is to see so many people struggle with mental illness, at least we’re all going through it together. We always support each other. I don’t know what I’d do without them.

Don’t undermine your mental health. It’s not something that can just be swept under the rug. Don’t be afraid to reach out and get help. It’s so important to grow as a person and become who you are by talking through these types of things.

56. How Childhood Bullying Triggered My Mental Health Issues

Brooklyn, NY

I’ve struggled with depression, anxiety, and suicide attempts from a very young age. I’ve had a lot of traumas in my life and it affects the way I think about life. I became very hopeless. I lost energy and a desire to exist in the world.

I have experienced a lot of poverty when I was young and my mom was in a very abusive marriage. So, we had to move a lot and had to live in shelters.

We were homeless at times. Eventually, that can cause you to lose faith in how your life will turn out.

I got into a lot of trouble in school. I used to get bullied a lot for being overweight. Those things kept piling on and the depression would get worse; from losing motivation to get through the day to just not wanting to exist.

This was when I was only 11 years old. In middle school, I was bullied even more and at that point, I started to attempt suicide

 One time, I was in class in the sixth grade and I drew something about suicide and my English teacher was so scared that she told the guidance counselor and they started asking me ‘Do you plan to harm yourself or anyone?’

That was the first time that I became aware that I was actually struggling with depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide. They called my mother, and she was disappointed and angry that I would want to kill myself. It was mostly a cultural thing.

My mother is from Honduras and they’re not accepting of mental health issues or suicide attempts. At that time, I was hospitalized because of my suicide attempts and because I used to ‘see things.’

It was the worst and scariest experience I’ve ever had; to be with other people your age and everyone’s on drugs.

They used to give me injections to go to sleep because of how intense I became from being in an environment like that. None of it helped.

I was in and out of the hospital. I was hospitalized about 5 times for suicide attempts and depression from the ages of 11-15.

I also started to gain weight from the medication. It came to a point where my health was in danger. It was becoming life-threatening.

That’s when I decided that I would change my life for me. I started to lose weight and I started to value school a lot more.

I thought that maybe there was a bit of hope about getting my education. Things were going well, but I was still depressed, and I still am depressed. It became easier though because I learned how to cope with depression and my thoughts of suicide.

Everything was going well and then I came to college and I felt everything again. So transitions for me are still a huge trigger.

I still struggle with depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide. Sometimes simultaneously and sometimes one and not the other.

Sophomore year of college was the closest I’ve been to committing suicide, but because I have strong friendships they were able to help me. I wouldn’t be here right now if I didn’t have people in my life to intervene in those moments.

One thing I’ve learned is that you have to keep trying and fighting to better yourself. Sometimes you’re going to feel like you’ve lost the fight and then sometimes you’ll wake up and feel like you can do anything in the world.

 

Mental health recovery stories about caring for yourself

57. How Important It Is To Take Your Mental Health Seriously

Cincinnati, OH

People don’t always realize that their mental health is something they need to take seriously. Always thinking negatively about the world and yourself really restricts you from many opportunities.

Correcting this mindset is important for overall life improvement. Once you start to take your mental health seriously, so many good things start coming your way.

58. How I Learned To Control My Panic Attacks

My first panic attack was in the 7th grade when I had to write a math exam. I didn’t know what it was at first. I was always stressed due to school because I always wanted my grades to be perfect. A’s, and B’s just weren’t good enough for me.

I didn’t really pay attention to mental health in middle school or high school because it wasn’t really talked about. It was when my panic attacks got really bad in college that I realized what was going on.

At that point, I knew I had to do something about it.

I had my own coping mechanisms like breathing exercises and taking hot showers. I knew that I should surround myself with people, but some days it was really hard to just simply get out of bed.

It took a long time and it was a long progress to get where I am today. It took a long time to feel like I have control over my own life again. Sometimes, it can feel as though mental health issues are controlling you and not the other way around.

I feel like I have much fewer panic attacks and depressive episodes today. The first step was to realize and accept that there was something wrong.

I love treating myself to a nice spa day at home and light incense and candles. I also collect crystals; I’ve been collecting them since I was 5. They promote health, positivity, relaxation, and anything against anxiety.

Many people don’t believe in them, but it’s still nice to have them. Another nice routine I picked up while I lived in Hungary was going to the thermal baths every Sunday, especially in the winter.

You never know who is dealing with something within themselves, so it’s very crucial to raise awareness in a positive way and to always love and respect each other and each other’s boundaries.

59. How I Learned To Take Care of Myself To Deal With My Mental Illnesses

Manhattan, NY

I am currently dealing with clinical depression and social anxiety disorder. I have been dealing with it since I was in high school.

Opening up to people is really difficult, especially family. I have spoken about what I’ve been dealing with to my mom. It was pretty difficult for multiple reasons.

The first would be because she is from a different country. Although she does understand English, her understanding of words like ‘social anxiety’ only goes so far. Therefore, there is a slight language barrier when we’re communicating.

When we finally got past this, the issue of her understanding of why I was dealing with these mental illnesses came up.

She couldn’t understand why I was depressed or anxious. My mom felt like I had never experienced any traumatic events that should be impacting me like this in my life today.

She still doesn’t really understand that nothing major in someone’s life can lead to developing a mental illness like depression . It is just something that happens to people.

I also opened up to my older sister about my mental illnesses. It didn’t make a difference either for more or less the same reasons as my mother.

She told me she was always going to be there when I needed her, but this only goes so far in feeling like I have someone to walk through with this. I get that I also have to take action to help myself.

But, it’s not easy to do when you’re constantly in the state of physical and mental exhaustion. And, you lack the motivation to really do anything.

For anyone struggling with any mental illness, the first thing I’d say is to just keep going. I try not to be too hard on myself for not being able to perform simple tasks that most people are capable of doing on a daily basis.

Still, I have to also remind myself to not use my mental illnesses as an excuse for not doing what I’m supposed to do.

I do appreciate when someone reminds me to drink water or to go for a nice walk. But in my head, it’s hard to do when you don’t even want to take care of yourself.

There are times when I don’t want to get out of bed, or eat food, or speak to anyone. At times, it can feel completely hopeless to even make the effort, but you absolutely have to keep pushing yourself through it.

The second is to remember that taking care of yourself is sometimes going to be ugly. It won’t always look like a girl doing yoga or drinking tea.

Sometimes, it might look like having an ugly-cry on the couch at 3 AM after a particularly difficult day. And it is okay.  Embrace your good and bad days.

The third is to never be ashamed of having a mental illness. I know what it’s like to not be believed or be looked down upon because someone thought there was something wrong with you.

Remember that no matter who you speak to in the process of getting yourself help, at the end of the day you have to want to help yourself. 

You are the only person who knows what you’re going through. And, you need to put the pieces back together. You have to want a better life.

60. How Expectations Triggered My Panic Attacks

New York, NY

I knew I already had anxiety issues that stems from my upbringing as a child. I suffered from panic attacks when I was in situations I had no control over such as school and just being a young black female in today’s society.

I was always considered the smart girl in school because I was Japanese and black, so people automatically assumed that I was a straight A student. And I was, but not because of my heritage but rather because I worked hard and studied a lot.

Growing up with expectations of being great in school really weighed on me, so failure was not an option.

High school was a very stressful time because we are preached to about how having good grades are everything and going to a good college is one of the most important things.

But hearing stories of how people went to these big expensive colleges to get fancy degrees but couldn’t find a job and were stuck in debt for the rest of their lives was very stressful.

We were told that without a degree we will be nothing in life. That really got stuck in my head and made it very difficult for me to enjoy high school at times.

Also, being a female in society was very exhausting because I felt like I was competing with every other girl in my school.

We were always taught to look our best even if we don’t feel the best, to make sure we always stand out from the crowd.

So I ended up always comparing myself to other females which caused me to have self-doubt at times. It also led to anxiety and panic attacks.

The feeling of not being noticed was very hard to deal with because all kind of things were running through my mind such as: Am I good enough? Do I need to lose weight? Should I put more makeup on? and other trivial things.

But as I matured, I realized a lot of those things didn’t matter because self-love was one of the most important things to have.

So once I started loving everything about me more, I stopped competing with other women and how I matched up toward them. I also just let myself enjoy life and didn’t worry about things I could not control.

If there is one thing I would tell women dealing with this, it is that self-love is one of the most important things to have. You should reach out to other women because we are all going through the same thing in some type of way.

61. How I Learned To Cope With Anxiety

Queens, NY

Anxiety has been a huge stress throughout my life. So many things cause anxiety for me. It’s not like I just get anxious over one thing, it can be anything: tests, talking to people I’m not comfortable with, even ordering food at a restaurant.

When I’m anxious, I tend to shake, my hands get sweaty, and sometimes it’s been so bad that I’ve even thrown up a couple times.

When I’m really nervous about something, it builds up and eats away at me so much to the point where I can’t even sleep.

No matter what relaxation techniques I tried or what medicines I took, I’d be up all night. It’s awful because the next day, I feel like garbage which causes even more anxiety for me.

Last semester, I had to deal with that for months at a time. I always think of the worst possible scenario, which is a huge source of my anxiety. Not knowing what’s going to happen next and not feeling in control are the things that scare me the most.

I need to be in control of situations and when I can’t, I just feel so helpless and so scared.

Taking care of myself physically like what I eat, my health, my skincare- things I can control, is sort of how I cope with my mental health when I feel like I have no control.

You shouldn’t feel bad about having a mental illness. You just need to take the time to learn what works for you.

Everything takes time, and anxiety will always be a struggle, but life has no finish line. You have to keep going because you will find things that make you feel okay again.

College Voices

5 Unique Tips for a Fresh Start in 2021

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As the pandemic looms on and remote working continues, it feels increasingly difficult to find new and better ways to start fresh in the new year. Especially at home, your immediate thoughts might jump to the towering pile of boxes in your garage or the mysterious mold that’s been growing in your shower. Of course, the ongoing pandemic has caused a worldwide case of stress-based quarantine clutter, and it’s definitely important to set aside a day (or three) to clean out that accumulated mess. 

At the same time, however, while cleaning out your physical space has been proven to improve your mental health, there exist many other methods to help clear your mind and start this year with a renewed outlook. 

Here are 5 unique tips for a fresh start in 2021

Tip #1: Mindful Eating 

Before the pandemic, when we were all rushing to our next class, to an appointment or to work, eating might have felt like an automatic or even tedious act. Now, researchers are noting the effects of the “Quarantine 15”, the weight gain many people are facing as a result of the stay-at-home orders due to the pandemic. 

As we spend another year at home, you should skip the fad diets this year and instead opt for the kinder, more attentive realm of mindful eating. Grounded in the Buddhist concept of mindfulness, mindful eating consists of a variety of ways in which you can strive to be more observant of how, when, and why you eat. 

A bowl of oatmeal and berries and banana slices.
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Whether it’s eating slower or recognizing the distinct taste of your food, you can learn to slow down and grow a greater sense of appreciation for not only the food you eat, but also the ritual of eating. This doesn’t mean that you need to give up your morning coffee or stop munching on your favorite brand of chips. Mindful eating instead encourages you to pause for a moment, really taste your coffee or chips, enjoy it, and continue on your day. By paying attention to how we eat, we can all learn to focus more on these little moments and find a grander purpose in them. 

Tip #2: Move Your Body 

In addition to mindful eating, it’s just as important to be mindful of your body and find ways to exercise it! From starting a rigorous at-home workout to performing desk exercises, below are a few fresh ways to get your blood pumping.

  1. Workout Routine 

Searching for workouts of which there are a plethora of possibilities. Including glute bridges, sumo squats, and plenty more, the article introduces all the ways you can start an easy, active routine. 

  1. Yoga 

It’s been proven how much yoga has done to relieve pandemic stress and anxiety. Its principles are also founded on philosophies similar to the Buddhist mindfulness mentioned above, so combining yoga routines with mindful eating is sure to prepare your mind and body for the new year. Though in-person yoga studios are closed for now, many are currently hosting free video classes, specifically aimed at relieving pandemic struggles. So roll out your yoga mats or find a comfortable, flat surface, and get your yoga game on! 

A women with dark hair and pink shirt doing yoga.
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  1. Desk Exercises 

Is starting a full-out workout or yoga routine too much of a commitment? No worries, there’s a reason why gym membership attendance drops significantly into the new year. Since you’re at your desk, try these quick and easy desk exercises during class or work breaks. You can stretch out your wrists to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome or, if you have a swivel chair, work out your abs by turning your chair left and right!

Tip #3: Clear Your Mind for a fresh start 

With social media piling up on hundreds of the latest news stories, it’s difficult to find space for yourself, even in your own mind. For a fresh start to the new year, pull out that notebook or journal that’s been hiding on your bookshelf, and journal it out! Not only can journaling help to improve your mental health, taking the time to write can allow space for you to critically reflect on this past year. What did you learn in 2020? What have you been struggling with? What dreams do you have for the new year? Writing it all down can help you untangle all of the complicated emotions that you may have been struggling with, and enter the new year with a fresher, more positive outlook. 

A closeup of someone writing in a journal.
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Tip #4: Purposeful Content Consumption 

We are all definitely guilty of binging two seasons of a Netflix show or diving into an endless Internet rabbit hole. Purposeful content consumption works along the same lines of mindful eating by learning to pay more attention to what content we are watching, reading, or listening to. As we enter the new year, strive to diversify the media or content that you usually watch without a second thought. It is known that the Internet, and social media specifically, has been prone to causing political and social polarization, or in simpler terms, consuming only certain kinds of content can lead you to think a certain way (i.e. watching only cat videos and none of the amazing dog videos could lead you to believe that dogs are really not that great). So push yourself to learn about the other sides, and maybe you can develop some empathy along the way!

A women on a subway reading a book on a kindle.
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Tip #5: Reach Out & Remind Others That You Care 

Start fresh in all of your friendships and relationships by making it an active goal to be more attentive to all the people you care about in your life. 2020 was the year when we learned to be more grateful for our loved ones, so put it into action! Send a message to a friend you haven’t talked to in a while, or call your mom and ask about her day. By making it a habit to consistently check in with others, we solidify our relationships with them as well. After all, humans are social creatures, and research has shown that social connections are key to our well-being! 

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While this isn’t an exhaustive list of all the ways you can enter 2021 new and improved, these tips are sure to help in redirecting your perspective of how you can change things up. Whether it’s practicing mindfulness or starting little desk exercises, continue to be gentle and kind with yourself and all your new year’s resolutions. We’re still in the midst of a pandemic, after all, and it’s just as important to take a day or two off for some self-care and self-love!

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College Voices

5 Surprisingly Easy Ways to Actually Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions in 2021

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The year 2020 is finally over, and we have a new year to look forward to! After living ten years in the course of one, you’re ready for the next phase. If you’re anything like the majority of the world’s population, you’ve made New Year’s resolutions in the past—and broken them within a month. But you keep making them, because you enjoy the optimism: beginning a new year on the right foot, promising to be a better, more fit and a more skilled version of yourself. 

Here are ways you can stick to your New Year’s Resolutions in 2021

  1. Tell people about your resolution

Usually, we’re told that peer pressure is a bad thing. But in the case of a New Years’ Resolution, it might be just what you need. Positive reinforcement (encouragement and support) from your friends and family can push you to learn the guitar, lose the beer belly, or whatever it is you want to do in this new year. Disappointment (or the fear of it) can also push you to work harder toward your goal. If the cost of failing on your resolution is a whole bunch of awkward and sad conversations, maybe that’ll keep you on the straight and narrow.

  1. Break it down into manageable chunks

This is something essentially everybody tells you about anything, but it’s true. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step—and continues, step by step. A New Years’ Resolution isn’t accomplished all at once, but rather gradually. Don’t push yourself too hard, and don’t get down on yourself if your goal is still a long way off. Set realistic markers along the way, and at each one check in with yourself. That way, you’ll get a sense of accomplishment as you go, and you’ll see your progress stack up.

  1. Care for yourself

Treat your New Year’s Resolution as what it is: a gift. When you accomplish it, not only will you get the benefit of whatever your goal is, but you’ll feel more confidence and pride in yourself. This feeling of accomplishment is full of benefits: it makes you better poised to chase down the next opportunity, better prepared to be a positive influence in the lives of others, and can even make you live longer. In making a New Years’ Resolution, and caring about yourself, you’re giving the best present you can give yourself, so don’t think of it as correcting something that’s wrong about you, but giving yourself another thing that’s right about you.

  1. Forgive yourself, don’t define yourself 

When a friend who’s made a mistake comes to you for help, do you immediately tell them that they’re worthless, that everybody knows it, and that they should just give up already? No, but this treatment is something of the norm when it comes to yourself. Unfortunately, many of us treat ourselves this way; we are quick to criticize and slow to forgive. Strangely enough, this negative self-talk often gives us permission to betray our resolutions. 

If you resolve, in 2021, to cut down on carbs and one night you give in to the urge to order a bunch of pasta on Postmates, don’t beat yourself up for it the next morning. Accept the mistake and continue working toward your goal the next day. Don’t decide you’re undisciplined, gluttonous, and have failed. Everyone messes up a few times and forgiveness is the best way to move forward. 

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  1. Use your resolution as a chance to explore new horizons 

We all have ideas about who we’d like to be, and we all face the realities of who we are. While a person who wakes up every morning at 6 a.m. and works out in order to get a clean, fresh start to the day is certainly admirable, that person might not be you. In making resolutions, pick goals that flow organically from who you are. If you don’t know who you are (because who really does?) then go into a resolution with flexibility. 

If, for example, your resolution is to get fit, don’t force yourself into a box with it. Instead, try different exercises, intensities, and intervals. Don’t stick yourself in the gym for a 45-minute routine with weights when what you’d really enjoy doing is going to a yoga class or going for a run. Realize that everybody is different, and rather than changing yourself into somebody new, your resolution can be a way of discovering who you might already be. Think of it as an exploration. Let things develop, and commit to remaining open and focused.

A list of Woody Guthrie's New Year's Resolutions on a lined notebook.
Woody Guthrie’s New Year’s Resolutions — a good role model
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The year, 2021 will likely be another challenging year. You already know why, so there’s no reason to repeat it here. But remember that you got through 2020, and if your resolution for 2021 is to just survive it sane, healthy, and maybe a little wiser—that’s totally fine. It’ll take some doing, but you’re definitely further along than you think you are. 

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The Overwhelming Mental Health Impact of Climate Change

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Wildfire
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People across the globe are being affected by climate change. Global warming and climate change are having detrimental effects on the Earth such as increased flooding, hotter temperatures, wildfires, and droughts. Wildlife and ecosystems are being destroyed. Sea levels are rising. The list goes on and it can be overwhelming to take in the effects of climate change. This is why mental health is being greatly affected by climate change, particularly in teenagers and college students.

Climate Anxiety

Anxiety related to the global climate and fear of environmental doom is often referred to as eco-anxiety or climate anxiety. This anxiety is a legitimate reaction to a serious problem. A large population of Generation Z is burdened by climate anxiety. This is because they are concerned about their futures considering the state of the Earth and the fatal implications of climate change. 

A contributing factor to climate anxiety is the lack of action currently being taken by political leaders. Many leaders in positions of power are avoiding climate issues rather than solving them. This has prompted members of younger generations to step up and fight for change. Young activists like Greta Thunberg have taken the lead in protesting climate injustices. But watching older generations sit back while climate change is destroying the planet can lead to feelings of frustration and anger, which are common symptoms of climate anxiety.

The mental health effect of climate change
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Climate change can be a controversial topic and there is a fair amount of conflict surrounding it. Everyone reacts differently to the topic: many people shut down when climate change is brought up and they avoid the subject altogether. Others are fearful of the effects of climate change and want to help but feel powerless. And some people are eager to take action and do their part in combating climate change. 

Many teenagers and college students have made efforts to reduce their carbon footprint by making lifestyle changes. Going vegan, carpooling, and shopping sustainably are some of the many ways to cut down on carbon emissions. But unfortunately, big corporations are some of the main contributors to climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions––a major contributor to climate change––are the highest they’ve ever been. This leaves young generations as they have difficulty believing that they can make a difference. 

How Climate Change Affects Mental Health

Every continent on the Earth is now affected by climate change. Meaning, climate anxiety is a global issue and can affect anyone, regardless of location, wealth, or privilege.

A polar bear walking.
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Many people are mentally affected by climate change because they have been faced with natural disasters, such as wildfires, serious storms, or flooding. While everyone reacts and copes differently, many survivors of these environmental disasters have some sort of lasting psychological trauma. PTSD, anxiety, depression, and grief are some of the many mental health issues that people who have lived through natural disasters struggle with. 

But you don’t need to be directly faced with a natural disaster to feel climate anxiety or despair over the state of the Earth. Just witnessing and learning about climate change is enough to cause mental health issues. There’s a sense of impending doom or existential dread that can wash over you when reflecting on climate change and its effects. 

Why Climate Anxiety is Often Overlooked

Climate anxiety is often overlooked or brushed off. This is because it can be difficult to discuss mental health concerns because there are still stigmas surrounding mental health. Climate anxiety is also typically not taken as seriously as other anxieties or mental health issues. This is because many people do not understand the serious, detrimental impacts of climate change. 

What to do About Climate Anxiety

  1. Talk to friends and family about climate change. 

Listen to their thoughts on the matter and discuss your own thoughts. Talk about the negative impacts and grieve with them. It can be healing and helpful to share your concerns with others.  

  1. Become a part of the solution

It is important to stay informed on environmental topics and to use your knowledge for good. Join a climate justice organization at your school or in your community. Connecting with others who also care about climate change can ease your worries and fears about the Earth’s future. Climate organizations are making a difference in your community and educating others on climate change. 

An oil plant dispersing white smoke into the air.
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  1. Join protests. 

If there are protests near you, make a sign and join in. Marching with other people who care about climate injustices is empowering. Protests help spark change by informing others and raising awareness. 

  1. Do what you can to help the environment. 

It is important to do what you can to reduce your own carbon footprint, but don’t become overly consumed with it. Eat a more plant-based diet, bike or carpool when you can, and use reusable bags. But try not to worry about how each of your actions will impact the environment. Those who experience climate anxiety often feel guilty about taking part in activities that affect the environment, like driving. Just do what you can and that will be enough.

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