Finding Support Amidst Mental Struggles

I think I was around 12 years old when I started to have mental health issues. I had been in 6th grade, just a few months before Coronavirus hit and I was beginning to feel anxious all the time. I started to go to therapy but had to stop a few months in due to quarantine. I was originally diagnosed with anxiety, then OCD just months later, and depression about a year after that. It was hard to determine where these issues came from, but we eventually figured that my brain was hardwired to anxiety and OCD. As for the depression, my last few years of middle school were awful. I had little to no friends and was constantly bullied by my small group of peers. Having two mental health disorders and then going through that brought a lot of difficulty with the state of my mental health. I chose to go to a high school that wasn’t a popular choice in my grade school so I could get a fresh start. I was thriving and doing well in school, but in the spring of my freshman year, the depression began to creep back in. I pushed away friends and family and was generally emotionally unavailable. That spring was a really rough time for me but my family pushed me to focus more on therapy and I had a major turnaround by the summer. By the start of this year, I had become involved in more extracurricular activities and I repaired my relationships with my friends. I got a valued role in 1N5’s Youth Council for Suicide Prevention and was asked to introduce the new Mental and Behavioral Health Institute at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Now, I am doing so much better with my mental health but I did learn a few things these past few years:

  1. It is incredibly important to surround yourself with an amazing support system. I now have my friends and my family who have supported me through everything.
  2. I love staying busy and being involved in many things. It has taught me to value sleep and downtime while learning about responsibility and discipline.
  3. Physical fitness is possibly the most important action you can take to positively influence your mental health. As of this year, I have started swimming year-round and it has helped so much.
  4. I have started replacing time on social media with reading, especially before I go to sleep, and that has helped me stay asleep and sleep better.
  5. One more thing I do, especially when I feel myself starting to have a panic or anxiety attack, is count backward from 100 by 3 which helps my brain calm down and focus on something else.