Carly, 23, New Jersey, US

unnamed[1]“I’ve dealt with mental illness from the time I was six years old. Phobias of germs and vomiting affected my everyday life and continued to for many years.

As I got older my fears evolved and I became terrified of the unknown, growing up, and major life changes. At 15 I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, OCD- specifically obsessive thoughts, and Major Depressive Disorder.

For months I laid in bed, not having the energy or will to get up and face each day. All I thought about was death- not wanting to die but not necessarily wanting to live. I was stuck in a limbo of suicidal thoughts and over-awareness of the fact that we are all going to die one day; I didn’t see the point of the stressors of everyday life if the end result was inevitable death.

Eventually, I had had enough. I sought out therapy, was put on Zoloft and things slowly improved. I found the quote “life can only be understood backward but it must be lived forwards” and that helped me to push on. At 19, depression struck again. I was faced with a heart-shattering break-up after a 4-year relationship. Depression was back with a vengeance. I stopped eating, I stopped going to class, I hardly slept, I was a shell of myself. One night, just wanting it all to end. Then realizing I’ve gotten through this before, I can beat this again.

I still struggled after this, but over a long time, I began to heal, I went back to therapy, and eventually my heart learned to love again. My quote that had helped me before continued to play out in my life, as I understood why I had gone through such distress.

I was now stronger, more aware, in a healthy happier relationship, and now an advocate for myself and others to stop the stigma on mental illness.

Anxiety and depression will probably always be a part of my life, but instead of fighting them, I’ve learned to accept them, love them, for they have made me the strong person I am today.”

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