My story begins when I was 10 years old. This was the year I found a suicide note written by someone close to me. This person never ended up taking their life, but I spent the next 20 years thinking it might happen. I ended up burying this event in my mind and tried to go on normally. But this event refused to stay buried and manifested itself as anxiety symptoms: constantly on edge, worried about everything, catastrophizing every situation.

After I left home and went to college, things got worse. My symptoms became physical ones: acid reflux, unexplained fainting, and panic attacks. Because of the severity of my panic attacks, I began taking medication. The medication helped significantly, but the underlying anxiety was still there lurking around.

I put on a brave face through all of this and resigned myself to suffering in silence. The panic attacks were mostly gone, but I still experienced a couple of fainting spells and unbearable acid reflux. I also fell in love during this time and thought I was going to marry this man. But we broke up, and I fell into a deep depression.

During this time, I went to an art therapy retreat held by Brave Girls Club. It was a transformative experience where I finally realized that I needed to shine a light on the dark, shadowy places in my mind. I needed to work through what happened when I was 10 years old.

After I returned home, I found a therapist and began a truly incredible therapeutic experience. Although I had gone to therapy in the past, this time was different because I was finally ready to do the necessary work.

Today, I’m mostly doing well with my mental illnesses. Do I have tough days? Of course. Do certain things still trigger my anxiety and depression? Yup. Do I still take medication? Yes. But the difference is that I know I’m going to be okay because I learned what to do to take care of myself. I know I’ll feel better soon. And that’s all I need to know.