JoAnna, 24, US


“I have lived with depression as far back as elementary school. I didn’t know it at the time. I wish I had. I wish schools would teach you to love yourself truly and that there is nothing wrong with being different. Instead, every day was a battle just getting myself to go to school. Instead of focusing on my studies, I turned my attention to what others thought of me.

Growing up this way made it hard to find where I belonged. I tried. I tried so hard to fit in. I didn’t find real friends until I had my first job. Friends who you can count on, even admit your demons too and they’ll stay and fight them off with you.

I learned I was severely depressed when I was twenty-two. I refused medication. I knew I could find the strength to fight this on my own. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with going on medication. It was a personal decision. It was a hard decision. It took me nearly three more years to finally get the courage to fight for myself.

Living with depression for so long turned my nights into sleepless nights filled with anxiety. Eventually, I got too sick of living this way and made a choice. I began to go to therapy, I took long walks in nature, started yoga, changed my diet and started working out.

I am not saying I changed over night. I still fight every single day. If I fall back I try to remember what it feels like to live vs what it feels like to merely exist.

I think if there is something to be said about mental illness it is that you never know who is fighting a battle with themselves on the daily. It hides like a monster under your bed. You can be the happiest seeming person on the outside yet you’re slowly dying on the inside.

The best thing to do to overcome is to choose to let the monster out. Talk about it before it eats you alive. Get it out and not only help yourself but you can help others realize they’re aren’t crazy for feeling the same type of way. It does get better. You just have to take that first step.
Fight to live not just exist.”






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