Having a whole month dedicated to mental health awareness is a huge step for omitting the invalid stigma that mental health is not a real issue. I, for one, can certainly stand by the fact that mental health disorders are real and not to be ignored. Approaching my teenage years, I realized that my mind, thoughts, and behaviors were different from those around me. My friends, peers, and family seemed to be going about their days with ease while I was struggling to even get out of bed. My thoughts were eating away at me. I had no idea why this was happening and what to do about it. I could not control my emotions for the life of me. This all started about fifteen years ago when the subject of mental health was still frowned upon. I felt like I had no one to confide in nor relate to. I kept struggling for years, being misdiagnosed time after time, perscribed what seemed like endless amounts of antipsychotics, impatient treatment centers, psychologists, physchiatrist, the list goes on and on. Being so young and vulnerable during a time where the world around me sheilded their problems while I was the poster child for struggling with mental health was earth shattering. I had no hope and truly thought that I was never going to be able to live a "normal" life like everyone else. I've tried taking the easy way out one-to-many times irrationally rationalizing with myself that I could no longer live this way. I was extremely sick. I resorted to drugs and alcohol to escape and ignore my pain and problems since my attempts at taking my own life were unsuccessful. It truly is a miracle that I am here today writing this blog post. I somehow managed to graduate from high school and college living in this dark abyss that I helped create. After all the denial and blame I placed on everyone and everything, I finally came to terms with the fact that I was also a part of the problem. Living in the post grad world and seeing all of my friend and peers move on to the next chapter of their lives while I was still absorbed by my sickness was a rude awakening. I no longer could fall back on excuses. I had to surrender to the fact that I was the one consistent underlying factor in this mess I was living in and knew I had to make a change. Being honest with myself was the turning point to a new beginning, a new life, a life worth living. I was offered plenty of help and had infinite resources at my disposal through the years. I am beyond blessed and privileged since that is not the case for everyone out there who suffers from mental illness. However, I never allowed myself to accept what was so generously given to me since I was in denial and did not want to face the truth. This time around I welcomed help and support with open arms. I was and am still willing to make positive changes. I sought therapy, psychiatry, drug and alcohol rehabilitation to mend my wounds. I read, engage in exercise, have a positive support system, and many other healthy coping mechanisms to keep me in check. I follow suggestions from others like me. I live a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life now. I am no longer a liability, I am an asset. I have worked and still work awfully hard every second of every day to be the best person I can be. I thrive at my job, working my way up from part-time to managing Luna Chick's Spring House location. My coworkers and customers rely on me, enjoying my presence and services that I offer. I have proven to myself and my team that I am hardworking, responsible, reliable, and great at my job. (Shout out to the owners of Luna Chick, Laura and Greg, for believing in me and giving me this opportunity, I cannot thank you enough.) I remain grateful and confident in myself that I am on a path of greatness. I show myself compassion because at the end of the day I am human, we all are. I know now that adversity effects all of us in different ways, that I am not unique, and the world does not revolve around me and my problems. I start my days with the intention to be the best version of myself and to be of service to others. Whether that is making someone smile and laugh, picking up a piece of litter off of the ground, or giving someone a genuine compliment. And at the end of the day I embrace my journey because I now have the utmost appreciation for life and all it has to offer. We can do anything we set our minds to. Life is short and we only live once which is why I no longer take everything so seriously. The universe has my back as long as I contribute positively to it. I try my best now with the knowledge that I am not perfect. Life will always have obstacles, I choose to take the bad with the good and vice versa. The choices we make define us, circumstances do not. If you are struggling there is hope. Choose you. Invest in yourself and your well-being. The only way to go from down is up. The world cannot defeat you if you don't let it.