Florencia, 20, Uruguay

11215098_500073450167183_6337726838188296316_n“I’m 20 years old and I have a mental illness. I suffer from depression, anxiety attacks, very low self-esteem. It all started when I was 9 years old, but it wasn’t until 3 years ago that everything went wrong. I guess it was when I just couldn’t take the pain anymore and decided to seek out for help.

4 years ago, a cousin of mine was diagnosed with Leukaemia. We were very close, and he was only one year older than me. I was 16 at the time. Watching him struggle and fight for his life, with each and every treatment, really broke me in a way that I don’t think there’s a coming back from. What cancer and treatment did to him was very hard to watch, it came to a point where he couldn’t even walk anymore. But, he was always smiling, even in his last days.

A few months before he passed I started to have very strong migraines, nausea every day, and I couldn’t even get up without feeling dizzy. I remember going to countless of doctors; getting my eyes checked, my ears, and even my brain with an MRI. Everything was okay of course, I wasn’t physically ill, I was mentally ill. And that doesn’t show in any test.

After he passed I started to take medication, which I found to this day very helpful. But, only taking meds without any other help, it doesn’t really help you. So I started to see a therapist. And I guess that’s when my new journey started.

Now, I know and accept without any kind of a shame that I have a mental illness. And that it is not something to take lightly. I still take medication, which helps me a lot, even though I know a lot of people don’t like to take them. They make me feel safer. Like there’s a little bit of more strength in me to fight this. And I see my therapist once a week, and she helps me very much. I don’t think I could even understand so much of what I’ve been through and am going through without her help.
In a way, I’m very lucky to have the resources I have. Not many people can afford to see a therapist or take certain medication. For that, I’m very grateful.
More and more, I’m becoming a little bit more open to talking to other people about my mental health, because it’s hard to talk to someone who doesn’t fully understand what emotions I’m going through. I don’t know anyone (personally) that suffers what I suffer, so it came to a point were being depressed was very lonely.

I lost a lot of friendships, some I regret, some I do not. But I also lost a vitality that I used to have. I’ve closed myself to opportunities and new starts because I don’t feel like people would understand or accept me if they saw “the real me”. The me that cries a lot. The me that struggles. Has panic attacks. The me that doesn’t want to go outside for days sometimes. But this is who I am right now, not who I’m going to be the rest of my life.

I’m a 20-year-old, struggling with depression and doing her best to stay strong, keep going and never give up.”





Stuart, https://www.flickr.com/photos/74009/

Harry, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRzs8M26VhrMJlKC5qEI2og

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