It takes one to say “NO.”

I managed to wake up every morning

get dressed, grab breakfast, and dash out the door

But it was a front. A facade. A routine.

No one cared to ask the one question I prayed someone would: “Are you okay?”

But eventually, I too stopped caring, stopped trying.

Still, no one noticed

that the once bubbly girl became silent,

the class nerd began receiving zero after zero,

the singer stopped showing up to the choir,

the dutiful daughter started showing attitude.

I couldn’t put into words how I felt, because I felt nothing. A whole lot of emptiness and an overwhelming amount of vastness consumed me until I became satisfied with feeling pain.

I wanted so badly to feel something, to prove to myself I wasn’t crazy, so I tore my body apart. Starting with my wrists, moving on to my upper arms, my thighs…anywhere I could hide. It became my dirty little secret; the way I felt better until even that didn’t do it for me anymore.

I tried to be better than the weak ones or to “seem” better, but I was too far in. I wrote my letters and sent out my goodbye texts, and then there it was staring me in the face:

“Don’t do anything stupid. I want to see you tomorrow.”

But why did it take three years of spiraling for someone to notice?

Our culture is amazing, but also, at times unreasonable. As a society/community, we tend to compare kids to each other to the point of making one feel so inadequate, and inferior. Then we blame the kids for feeling insecure, and tell them to “toughen up.” Even the strongest kids will eventually break, but how they deal with that is on us: family, friends, society. We need to stop saying that mental illness is “made up.” We need to stop saying that receiving help means that an individual is crazy, or weak when in reality they are self-aware and brave. We just need one person to say no to slowly change our society. So here I am, saying NO, I will not accept this anymore. We are strong, and we will keep fighting.

Regardless of where you are in your process, you are worth it, and the light is coming.

Instagram: @ramyachunduri28

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In alignment with our mission to encourage others to #SpeakUp about mental health, we’ve created this blog – a passion project highlighting those who wish to share their stories with the world.

Open to anyone, the series features personal anecdotes from members of the South Asian community who have struggled with mental illness – and the stigma that comes along with it.

To submit your story, click here.

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