Get Up Again

I grew up in a great environment. I enjoyed school, was involved in extracurricular activities, had a wide variety of friends and loving, involved parents. By all accounts my life was set up for a successful future of whatever I could dream for myself. But mental illness doesn’t discriminate against age, sex, race, religion, or economic status. You could have every resource at your disposal and still develop a mental illness in the same way someone who has no resources can develop one. The same way the richest man in the world can develop the same cancer as the poorest man in the world.

For years after my initial diagnosis of depression and anxiety, my life was a rollercoaster of highs, lows, and plateaus. There were medication trial and errors, therapists, and the development of severe panic attacks before I found a long-term sense of stability. This period of my life was marked by dropping out of college, no sense of direction, and feelings of complete failure. But my support system was always by my side through it all. When I didn’t want to get up after falling on my face again and again, they supported me until I found an inner strength to stand up on my own.

Eventually I went back to school, first to a local community college and then to the same university that I dropped out of years earlier. I graduated in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree and a sense of accomplishment that I never would have found if I hadn’t had the support system and strength to get up time and time again.

My journey hasn’t been easy and the road ahead will no doubt have bumps and detours that I can’t even imagine right now, but I have this sense of peace knowing that my past has prepared me for whatever my future holds. My mental illness has not made me weak, but stronger than I ever would have been without it. If you’ve never personally known someone with a mental illness, now you do. Hi! My name is Melissa, it’s nice to meet you! I hope I’ve helped you understand that mental illness is nothing to be afraid or weary of – we’re all just human beings trying to find our way in the world when it comes right down to it. If you’ve struggled with mental illness yourself at some point, I’m proud of you for pushing back and finding your way. Keep up the good fight. And if you’re struggling right now, don’t you dare give up. You are not alone and you will get through this. Reach out for help, don’t try to carry this burden alone. If you don’t know who to turn to or feel like you don’t have anyone in your corner, call me. I firmly believe one can never have too many friends and I’d be honored to call you a friend of mine. But no matter what you do, get up again. Your struggles and falls don’t define you, I’m proof of that.