What I Would Tell #MyYoungerSelf About Mental Illness

After a few years of living with and managing my illness, I learned that I am still me despite my diagnosis and am a valuable and unique human being. I’m not just a collection of symptoms in a textbook. I would remind my younger self to not get so wrapped up in his diagnosis and tell him that it’s not the end of the world but also encourage him to learn from it and others who have it.

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How to Speak to Your Parents if You’re Worried About Your Mental Health

Whilst telling your parents might feel like the last thing you want to do, it’s important that you try. If you can’t tell them, then you need to speak to someone that you trust, maybe a grandparent or other relative. Talking about your problems can help you to feel better and understand how you’re feeling more clearly. Anxiety and depression can make you feel alone, but it’s important to remember that you’re not. Help is out there, and your parents will be able to offer you advice and guidance.

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The Captive Inside Me

I’ve been coping better with self-hatred by envisioning my inner self as a beaten and maimed person who needs to be nurtured and healed.Now, when I feel a surge of negative emotions coming on I turn to the nearest empty chair or space and visualize my hurt self in that emptiness. In my mind, I ask if he is alright and if he needs anything. I treat him as a friend in need.

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Conquering Shame

When I was in 5th grade, I suddenly became extremely aware of my appearance. It was a very abrupt realization. At eleven years old I was refusing to have my picture taken for the class photo, devastated that I was fat and ugly.  Mirrors became my enemy.

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I’m Not Normal

Do you know what it’s like to live your life never feeling normal? I do. I remember when I was young, no older than 6 or 7 years, and I threw up in the middle of the street while talking to a neighbor; a relative of mine hollered, “WHY CAN’T YOU BE NORMAL LIKE OTHER KIDS?” As I sat crying, wondering what exactly I could do to fix myself. I was a sickly child and no doctor or specialist could determine what was wrong), I began to feel less than adequate.

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OCD – A Mental Battle

I am diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and struggle with intrusive thoughts. It’s not necessarily that I need to keep things tidy as some people think. In fact, for me, it is much more an obsessive state of mind that revolves around the ‘need’ for things to be a certain way. My symptoms range from some simple things like a series of checks and actions that I have to do before I go to sleep every night to the need to keep all of the information that comes my way and protectively store it.

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Fourteen Years and Counting

When you live with depression for a long time, there is no part of you that your depression doesn’t touch. Like, there is no aspect of your life it leaves alone. It can affect your friendships, your romance, your family, your grades, your work, your money, your hobbies, your passion, your sleep, your weight, your hygiene, your other illnesses if you happen to have any, and so much more. It’s everywhere, and it gets in everything. It runs through every hallway of your life and puts its hands all over everything it shouldn’t.

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Treat Yo Self! A Story of Emotional Burnout

Our community is fighting and it’s a beautiful thing to see. From mental health statement selfies on Instagram to semicolon tattoos; more and more people who live with mental illness are sharing their stories on social media. If you check out #MentalHealthAwareness on social media, you’ll see and feel a mixture of emotions: pride, sadness, motivation, and inspiration. People living with mental illness are doing more work than ever to change the perception of mental health. It’s incredible.

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My Life As An Anxious Twentysomething

I have struggled with anxiety ever since I can remember. I struggled with it even before I knew what to call it. I knew I worried a lot about anything and everything. It really didn’t matter what it was or who it involved. I knew that I was scared to do a lot of the things that children my age did. I knew that I got referred to as “worry wart” a good majority of the time. What I didn’t know is that this wasn’t normal—I just thought it was, simply because I had always felt that way.

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The Unpaved Road

There’s a road—a little dirt path off Regular Blvd.—that hurts my mind when I travel down it. I believe we all have those little side roads we avoid, because sometimes moving on doesn’t mean making peace with what happened. Sometimes it means exactly what it sounds like: going forward. But when one can go forward, one can go backwards as well.

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Fighting Mental Health Stigma in Kenya

I started my work based on my personal experience as a rape survivor living with a dual diagnosis of epilepsy and bipolar and finding myself in a space where information and support were not easily available. So I started providing information and creating support systems. Mental health issues are slowing down and sometimes robbing society of powerful souls. A lot of people are going through things they don't know how to handle and need to be constantly reminded that they are not alone, that they are enough.

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Embrace Overall Wellness

I think that it's extremely important to help people not only cope with mental illness but also to help people embrace overall wellness that helps them optimize their quality of life. As a therapist, I think it's important to hold both the role of educator and provider, teaching clients about emotional health and conditions, if applicable, as well as providing new perspective and skills to help them live better lives in practice. My professional goals are to help promote conversations about mental illness and wellness especially in groups who tend to be underserved by mental health systems, such as people of color and LGBTQ+ folks.

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Mental Health Impacts Everyone

Tamu Lewis is the Co-Founder of the Lee Thompson Young Foundation. She started the foundation with her mother, Dr. Velma Love, in honor of her brother, actor Lee Thompson Young, who died by suicide after struggling with bipolar disorder. The foundation seeks to end stigma associated with mental health through education, support, and resources. We asked her why her work is so important and how she approaches self-care. She says, "mental health impacts everyone and we need to be more aware of mental health challenges and resources in order to help ourselves and others."

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Self-Care is Doing Things That Make You Feel Happy

When I think of self-care, I think of rest and relaxation but I also think of things that make me feel happy. I'm an avid TV watcher, chocolate eater, explorer, shopper, and coffee-drinker. I love spending time with my friends and family also. Self-care is important because it allows you to recharge and present your best you.

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Latinx Mental Health: Stories of the Dominican Diaspora

I am one of the co-founders and the associate editor at La Galería Magazine, a place to document and celebrate the stories of the Dominican Diaspora. La Galería Magazine is an independent, non-affiliated publication that discusses, deconstructs, and explores traditional Dominican symbols, ideologies, and customs in order to better understand our community, history, and culture. 

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Latinx Mental Health: Supporting Healthy Latinx Communities

I am director of Salud America! A national network that inspires people to drive healthy changes for Latinx children. I also direct the headquarters of the network, the Institute for Health Promotion Research at UT Health San Antonio. I have spent 30 years directing research on human and organizational communication to reduce chronic disease and cancer health disparities affecting the Latinx community, including cancer risk factors, A1:M10 trial recruitment, tobacco prevention, obesity prevention, healthy lifestyles promotion, and more. For Salud America!, I direct a team of passionate communicators who are creating research, stories, and tools to support policy and system changes for Latinx family health.

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Latinx Mental Health: Fighting for Policy Change

It definitely has been a journey filled with gratitude, where no day is the same. One day I can be driving three hours out to a rural part of my state to provide a suicide prevention training for a school and the next day working on mental health policy change. At times it's been late nights on a Friday evening (because that's when a crisis happens), calling all my mental health contacts to successfully identify a provider who can take in a new client immediately. Some days it's sitting on the sidewalk sharing a sandwich with my friend Aaron, who is homeless and suffers from mental illness--hoping that our conversation will get him to agree to see a provider.

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