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Opening up to My Friends About Depression and Anxiety for the First Time

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As a high school student, it’s common for teens my age to worry about things like the brand of makeup they use, the girls or boys they like and the newest gossip they have heard.

We’re all guilty of it. But that being said, it is not the coolest thing in the world to talk about mental illness. No one wants to hear about the super awesome new medication you’re on that has changed your life or what your therapist has to say about this week’s high school drama. No one wants to know you have “issues,” as they say. Or at least that’s what I thought before I started to talk about it.

The first time I spoke about it, it was out of necessity. At the beginning of this year, I had what I like to call my “three steps back.” My panic attacks came back worse than ever and I needed to get my depression and anxiety medications adjusted. It was a very scary time for me and for my family.

Oh, and for my friends who had no clue why I was suddenly running out of classrooms crying and would go days without talking to them. Even in my state of sadness I knew it was not fair for them to have no idea what was going on and I felt I had to tell them.

Their response?

“That sucks. We miss you, please just focus on getting back to yourself right now.”

I was baffled by their response. Even writing this right now I want to cry because of the amount of support and love they gave me in that moment. They did not pressure me, they did not ask me to talk more than I wanted, they left the door open for me to talk to them about it and were there for me.

The second time I spoke out about my mental illness was casual. I was speaking to two of my friends in my school library and we somehow got onto the topic of mental illness. I slipped into the conversation something about my medication and silence ensued.

“You’re on medication?” One of them asked, kindly.

“Yes, I take it for my anxiety,” I responded, nervous as to what they would think.

“Oh, do you mind if I talk to you more about that at some point because I’m looking into starting medication too,” she responded.

I told her I would be totally open to answering any of her questions and giving her information about the therapist I go to and again I was baffled by the kindness, understanding and even her ability to relate to my situation.

It is so easy to think you are alone in this fight against your own mind and it is easy to forget you are not.

People around you may be going through the same thing as you and may be open to you too. And who knows? Maybe you will help someone by talking about your mental illness. We all have to do our part in fighting the stigma surrounding mental illness, whether it be by talking about our fight or lending a supportive ear to a friend going through something we may not be able to relate to.

We are all mental illness warriors.

Even if you don’t have a mental illness, join the fight.

Together we can all speak up and fight the stigma of mental illness.

It’s not easy to talk about and that’s why we need to speak up more than ever.

Dedicated to: Bebe, Hop, Shania and Sarah without whom, this story would have no meaning. 

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Thinkstock photo via oneinchpunch.

Originally published: March 6, 2017
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