I Believe by Linda Contreras

It’s too often that kids tell their parents they feel down and they’re told to get over it. However, a simple scraped knee calls for the need of antibiotics, some sort of bandage, and emotional support from the nearby parent. Although mental illnesses cannot be seen, they are still serious issues that very rarely receive the limelight and care a physical illness would receive.

Throughout my life, constant feelings of lost hope and unexplainable gloominess flooded my brain; drowning the last bit of humanity that existed within me. There reached a point in which I was breaking in every way possible and gasped for help with every force I still had left in me. Asking for help took a lot of courage, for whenever I tried, I was told to get over it and move on yet I couldn’t and wasn't able to let go of what I felt. With time I was finally taken to a psychiatrist where I was diagnosed with chronic depression and severe anxiety. This diagnosis led to the opening of a new realization for me, mental illnesses are not taken as seriously as they should be. When I walked out of the clinic the sun hit my skin and it didn't feel the same as before, something inside of me had lit up. My skin warmed up as I soaked in the radiant energy the sun was providing almost as if it was the beginning of a new life for me, a life of greater understanding and personal growth and discovery.

I left the doctor that day with the main purpose of trying to put the light on mental illnesses. Events came up such as Mental Health Awareness Month in May and each day I would post on social media a statistic on mental health, a quote, and reassurance that there's help for everyone. A post would include a statistic, for example one would be that more than 90% of children who've committed suicide had a mental condition that was either current or one that wasn't treated before. Accompanying the fact would be a quote such as, "She overcame everything that was meant to destroy her." To end the post I would insert a reassuring comment about finding help along with numbers for suicide and help hotlines in general for those who need them.

Before my personal experience with the silent killer known as depression, I had no true understanding behind mental health because my family wouldn't talk about it, but I taught myself and dedicated my time to informing others. Mental illnesses are blind to the human eye, but they can be fought and overcome. They are not just a feeling of sadness but something much deeper that eats away at someone's soul. While my family just saw mood changes, they were brushing away at the fact that my behavior changes were indicators of something much more serious. The most important lesson my experience taught me was not to fall victim to these feelings of hopelessness and deny myself the right for help.

Triveni Patel