Getting Real About Mental Illness

The other day I was waiting in line to see Harry Styles on The Today show, when someone asked me something. In a non-malicious way, a new friend had asked me- “How are you able to be so open about your mental illness? Aren’t you scared sometimes that people are going to judge you for it?”

I was able to explain it to them but I thought maybe I would share it with you all, too.

Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of.

I’m not ashamed of the fact that I have depression and anxiety. It’s a fact, it’s an illness. I treat it with medication and proper therapy and I can keep it under control. I will never be ashamed of it. I’m not afraid to tell people I have Lyme disease, just the same as I’m not afraid to tell them I have depression. Though different, they’re both treatable illnesses.

If someone wants to judge me on having depression and anxiety, they aren’t the type of people I want in my life. I’ve had my fair share of friends who didn’t “get it”, told me that I just needed to get over it and stop being nervous, stop being sad, that it’s all for attention even after I’ve tried to calmly explain why it is I feel the things I do sometimes. Those aren’t my ‘friends’ anymore.

I don’t want people in my life that are going to treat me as a joke, act as if it’s embarrassing when I speak about my own mental health.

Lastly, I talk about mental illness and I speak of it so casually, because not a lot of people will. Like my friend Whitney said,  Living life with mental illness can be living life in a Ghost Story. Slowly but surely it’s getting better, but we still have this stigma behind mental illness. It isn’t embarrassing, it should not be a taboo topic, it should be something talked about and recognized by more people as actual illnesses so we can treat them, and spread awareness to what they actually are. Education should be spread.

I also speak so that if someone else is struggling, they won’t feel so alone. Maybe if I talk about it to someone they can open up and understand that they may have an issue, or they see it isn’t only them struggling. They can see how I went from such a dark place and came out of it. I want people to see they can achieve things and do what they want even with these illnesses.

                    Every time I speak about my mental illness,       I help end the stigma. 

I like to keep it real, and I’ll be the first to admit that my anxiety as of late has gotten much much worse. I was recently hospitalized for a week, paralysed,  with Conversion Disorder.  It isn’t something that just goes away but it can get better. With extra therapy and medication, I am so much better.  My depression is better, too.

My new friend understood, and actually thanked me for speaking about it. But the conversation we had afterwards about it was so rewarding, being able to help someone feel a bit better about their own illnesses and feel a bit of hope, it’s all worth it to me.

 

 


Thankful for Today

This week,  I did something  that maybe wouldn’t be that big of a deal to someone else, but to me, it was huge.  I am extremely proud of myself and what I’ve done.

I  camped out at Rockefeller center for over 24 hours to see one of my all time favorite artists, Harry Styles. The whole thing was absolutely amazing.  I was in the first 20 in line, made some  incredible friends, and even more memories. Harry bought us all pizza, we were interviews by Access Hollywood and the Today Show, we were playing music on small speakers, simging along while laying on the freezing concrete tangled in limbs and blankets just to stay warm. It was freezing, even with my layers and blanket, the wind was bitter and my hands felt frozen. I got maybe 20 minutes of sleep. The trips to Starbucks and then getting lost in the NBC building looking for the bathroom at 9 PM, they are something I am going to look back on and be so fond of -especially with how close we were able to get to Harry.

 

A year ago, I would not have been able to do this. I went to New York City and camped out all by myself. Yes, many people have done it before. But I had been so anxious I hadn’t been able to eat anything but 2 cheese sticks and a fruit cup the day before, barely anything to the days leading up to it. But I went. Even with some thoughts yelling that maybe it wouldn’t be worth it, that I should go home, watch it from my living room. The constant echos when things got a bit hectic that maybe I should leave, that maybe I wouldn’t be able to see, the constant anxiety that wouldn’t go away, it didn’t stop me this time.

I had moments where I was close to leaving. My back ached and I couldn’t feel my hands, the VIP line was almost 2 blocks long and they got let in before we did, the fear of not being able to see kicking in. But I stayed. Even with the crowding, I stayed.

First, because Harry is my favorite artist. He cares about his fans, he put on an incredible show for us. He sounded absolutely amazing, interacted with the crowd. The energy of the plaza was incredible.

Most of all, this trip was a goal to myself to prove to myself and others doubting me that I could do it. And I did.

An incredible man let us into the VIP section. After we asked him nervously if we would be able to see, saying we had been there for as long as we did, he took the 20 of us and let us go back into VIP.  I want to thank that man, even though I don’t know his name. Thank you, if you ever get to read this.

I’d like to thank Harry, too. For giving me that bit of hope when he sent pizza and the message he saw us on the street waiting and wanted to help us because he appreciated it. He had no idea how that message really encouraged me to stay the night. This was for him, this trip. But it was also for me.

 

I got to hear new songs, dance and sing, be seen on the Today Show. I took incredible photos and made  dozens of new friends  I made memories. Most of all, I made a proved to myself that I was strong enough to take on my anxiety, and win.  I might not be very time, and that’s okay. This time, I won.

Thank you, Harry. Thank you, Today Show. ?


What I Would Ask Harry Styles

Harry Styles is someone I’ve looked up to for a long time. As a person and artist, he’s inspired me in many ways. Some I  can’t  really explain, but with his recent actions, taking the world by storm and having appearances, even just announcing his world tour make me happy.  I’d love to share my own experience.
I’ve never met him. I can start there. I’ve never shaken his hand or talked to him, but he’s had a big impact on my life, along with the other One Direction boys of course, but especially him. There was something about the way he’s seen, by fans anyway, that really just captures attention.
First of all, I admire the way he handles himself in interviews and in public settings.
Never have we seen him go off and yell at anyone, lose his temper- which with some videos I’ve seen if mobbing and paparazzi, would be warranted- and I’ve always seen him in a mostly positive light. He handles interviews well, especially where they’ve tried to dig deep into personal things that really, are none of the public’s business. It’s almost guaranteed that whenever he’s in an interview he’s asked about his dating life, his ‘celebrity crush’, or who his albums about. And yeah, there is some curiosity but as a general rule, it’s annoying for both fans and seemingly him.
The truth of the matter is, most of the fans are fans for his music and who he is as a person. After curving questions left and right, the same ones over and over again, you’d think some modern media would learn that he doesn’t want to talk about it, nor do most of his fans care.
What I’d like to hear about, is more so about the music. His process, which part he likes the best, influences. His favorite music and suggestions of songs, his favorite at the moment.  Id love to know books he likes to read, his favorite places to write or to travel to. If I could interview Harry Styles, I’d ask him questions with some substance or new information.
In a recent Rolling Stones article, he said something that I really loved.
“Who’s to say that young girls who like pop music – short for popular, right? – have worse musical taste than a 30-year-old hipster guy? That’s not up to you to say. Music is something that’s always changing. There’s no goal posts. Young girls like the Beatles. You gonna tell me they’re not serious? How can you say young girls don’t get it? They’re our future. Our future doctors, lawyers, mothers, presidents, they kind of keep the world going. Teenage-girl fans – they don’t lie. If they like you, they’re there.They don’t act ‘too cool.’ They like you, and they tell you. Which is sick.”
That right there, is what I think we should be talking about. Not his relationships, not hook ups or rumors, but things like this. To me, it’s incredibly important that he said that. It seemed as if the interviewer in the magazine was tying to get him to say something negative, hinting at Harry being worried of ‘lack of credibility’ with a female fan base, but he shut it down quickly.
He’s openly shown support for women’s rights and the LGBTQ+ community, has multiple quotes promoting body positivity, he goes out of his way for ill fans, and that is what is important- not who he wants to date.  It’s refreshing to see a male artist so open about supporting those issues and human rights in general.
Personally, he’s helped me with a variety of things but he helped me /want/ to save myself when things were hard. It sounds dramatic but as a suicidal and extremely self conscious 13 year old, looking up to boys saying you’re beautiful is a really big thing. It was just a gentle reminder to me that someone out there would think I’m beautiful, when everyone else was telling me I wasn’t. I learned to play piano and guitar to cover one direction songs and I began to write music after being inspired by them, and I found my passion for concert photography at their concerts.
When I asked on twitter for some ways he’s changed fan’s lives, I got quite a few answers.
“He’s inspired me to be unabashedly myself. I am no longer afraid to have my own interests and tastes and he has helped me learn that I can enjoy what I want with out fear of being judged by others. Because of him I am more confident both in myself and what I love.” -Brie
“He made me see the world differently and more accepting. He also has helped me overcome my insecurities.” 
“Harry helped me with always be nice to people, to defend those I love no matter what. And just be nice and love everyone.”
“To always love and be kind because there is enough of hate in this world.”
“He’s helped me realize how important it is to be yourself, to always be kind and humble. He’s always been my favorite person because over the years through he hasn’t changed from the fame and his big heart. “
All of these answers show that to some people, he’s more than just a pop star.
Harry’s debut single Sign Of The Times is out now, his first self titled album, Harry Styles, is available for pre order on iTunes. Tickets for his world tour go on sale on May 5th!