I struggled with severe depression and suicidal thoughts for over a decade. This is how I worked to overcome/manage my mental health.

Throughout nearly all of my adolescence I struggled with my mental health. By age 13 I was diagnosed with severe depression, and was put on antidepressants. Although at first the medication worked and seemed to help stabilize my mood, the effectiveness of it quickly wore off. At age 14 I began to drink and smoke heavily. By age 16 I had attempted suicide multiple times, and at age 17 I ended up in ICU after overdosing. I still struggle with my mental health today, but to a much lesser extent. I no longer am on antidepressants and am able to go more than a day without breaking down and feeling hopeless. What changed? I did. Having my family and friends visit me in the hospital helped push me in the right direction. It allowed me to realize that there are in fact people that care for me, that I do have a future worth living for, and that life is worth it. Repairing yourself mentally is a challenge. It doesn’t go away in a day, a month, and maybe not even in a year. It took many years of trying to get myself back on track in order to get to the place where I’m at today. Struggling with your mental health is one of the hardest battles you could face. It’s not easy in the slightest. But it’s worth it.

Here’s some of the things I’ve done to help improve and manage my mental health:

Talk to someone! It helps…. really! Bottling up your emotions is only effective for so long, and at some point you’re bound to break. You don’t have to go through anything alone, and there is always (ALWAYS!) someone out there who is willing to help. Cut out the people who make you feel worse. I had a small group of friends, and though I enjoyed being with them, I finally came to the realization that these people weren’t for me. Anyone who is constantly competing with you, puts you down, forgets about you, etc…. isn’t worth your time. Replace those people with ones who make you feel uplifted. Start up a new hobby! I realized that a lot of my lower points or breakdowns occurred when I was bored and had nothing to do. So I started gardening! I have absolutely no gardening skills whatsoever, and my plants are probably suffering more than they’re thriving, but knowing I have to take care of them has helped me get out of bed each morning. It makes me feel productive, and waking up to check on my plants excites me. Stop blaming yourself. It’s not your fault you’re going through all that’s happening. You’re not to blame. You’re not a bad person, and you don’t deserve to feel the way you do. I always found ways to blame myself for my depression (ie, “I’m a bad person, I hurt everyone who I love, so I deserve to hurt too.”). Once I stopped reaching for these conclusions, I was able to turn my attention towards the true source of the problem, which was not myself. You aren’t the cause of your mental state. Become an active participant in your treatment! The harsh reality is that mental illness will never go away on its own. You have to fight each and everyday to overcome it. Luckily there are so many ways to do just that. I started by addressing my concerns with my doctor, and eventually went onto therapy as well. JUST TAKING A PILL EVERYDAY WILL NOT SOLVE ANYTHING!

Nobody deserves to struggle, and nobody deserves to feel as though they aren’t worth it. Each and everyone of you are strong. Much stronger than you think. Fight for the life you deserve and never give up. It may take time, but it’s worth it. Hope is never lost but can always be found.

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