Growing up, my parents always referred to depression as "D." They were trying to shelter my brother and I from the harsh realities of the world like their own mental illnesses. However, doing so caused me to be afraid to talk about depression and only added to the stigmas that are attached to it.
At age 11, I was diagnosed with clinical depression. Throughout middle school and high school, I tried my best to hide that I was struggling with mental illness. The idea that anyone might think I was weak was terrifying.
Over the years, I became more comfortable discussing my mental health with my family and my peers. The more I educated myself, the more I came to realize how important it was to discuss difficult topics like depression regularly.
In August of 2014, I lost my mother to suicide. She had her own struggles with mental illness that I witnessed throughout my entire childhood. The week she died, we talked openly about how we both struggled with our mental health.
At this point, I knew that my mother was suicidal. I explained to her that I was there for her to support her and that if needed, I would admit her to a hospital. One day after our talk, I admitted her to the hospital in hopes that she would finally find the help she needed.
However less than 48 hours later, my mother took her own life. She was unable to connect with the support she so desperately needed in time to save her life.
Losing my mother to suicide has given me the passion and the motivation to become an advocate. Recently, I have connected with a non-profit called NoStigmas.
I have been learning how to advocate for myself, my peers and the cause. Advocating for the cause includes things like this: fundraising! NoStigmas is working on creating an app that will make it easier for people to connect to communities and resources dedicated to mental health awareness and suicide prevention.
If you find yourself wanting to advocate for the cause like I have, please consider donating.
I hope projects like NoStigmas can lead to a world where mental illness is accepted as any other illness. I like to think that if my mother had access to a community like NoStigmas, she may have been able to receive the support she needed to find treatment for her mental illness.