Friday, September 11, 2015

My Story

Yesterday, I shared the story of my mental health history in the following Instagram:

Today is #nationalsuicidepreventionday. I want to join the dialogue on mental health by sharing my story 🌟 I was 15 when I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. The last five+ years have seen a flurry of therapists, psychiatrists, doctors, hospitals, prescription medication, and a blind search for something that would cure me of the terrors that plague me every single moment of my life. I have not yet found a cure. In fact, I've only managed to get progressively worse. After losing more than a quarter of my life to what is now recognized as chronic depression and anxiety, I'm trying to accept that this is something that I will struggle with the rest of my life. However, I still consider myself beyond lucky to be in a position where I can constantly take advantage of the treatments that are available. It kills me that there are others in my situation who can't even get the help they need. I hope that by sharing my story and moving to destroy the taboo surrounding mental health, people will see that it's ok to ask for help. I hope that opening the dialogue on mental health will create a demand and response for efficient and affordable mental health care across the world. Please do not be afraid to talk about what you have gone through. Join me in the discussion of mental health and help me see these hopes become a reality. #worldsuicidepreventionday
A photo posted by Hannah Goldstein (@thehannahgold) on

This experience was, in a word, terrifying. I wish I could tell you some inspiring story about how I worked up the courage to bare my soul to the world for the benefit of contributing to the dialogue on mental health in modern society, but that just wasn't the case. Over the years, I've developed a large number of coping strategies for dealing with anxiety and stressful situations. One of these coping strategies is straight up ignoring the situation I'm in. So, that's how I found myself able to be so vulnerable on the internet.

I'm still pretty nervous about having shared this thing that I tried so hard to keep hidden for so long. It's particularly nerve-wracking thinking about everyone who's read it. Sure, that was what I expected when I shared this on Facebook and Instagram, but it's still weird to think about. I'm friends with everyone on Facebook: my extended family, friends of my mom, my boyfriend's family, the popular kids from high school, people I've been in professional meetings with, etc.. To think that any of these people may have read such a personal story makes me really anxious, but the positive reinforcement I got from sharing my story makes me think the anxiety might be worth it.

It's strange to think that exactly a year ago, I was reading the Survival Stories on Life Ain't Easy But It's Worth It and thinking that I could never speak so honestly about my demons the way these inspiring young women did. Their stories inspired me to keep going and stay strong, even in the face of severe hardships. Maybe my story will do the same for someone else.

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