Hope Connection: Your Mental Health Is Real and Matters

By: Amanda

I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for as long as I could remember. When I was in elementary school, any type of event that had us sitting in our auditorium would make me sweat and shake really badly. I always got light headed and would make my mom come pick me up because I didn’t feel right. There would be some days that I would wake up so frightened from nothing that I would have to beg my mom to let me stay home from school. I never really knew what these feelings were, until I was about 12 years old. That’s when I was diagnosed with depression.

Around that time, my parents started to go through one of the nastiest divorces I think you can possibly have. I fell into such a fit of depression that I had to go stay with my aunt and uncle for 2 months and miss school, because I couldn’t handle being in my house. I started to self-harm and started to feel helpless. No one really believed me when I told them I felt the way I did, so I stopped asking for help. I was lost in my own mind for a really long time. After their divorce was finalized, I started to get better and I thought I would never feel those feelings again and that everyone was right.

High school came around and I had a lot of up and downs. I didn’t really know who I was ,and I felt like a failure because I started to feel the way I did before again. I ended up going to speak to a therapist and she basically told me I was lying about everything. She gave me no benefit of the doubt and told me that I needed to stop faking my feeling for attention.

That crushed me. I didn’t want to feel the way I felt and I didn’t want people to think I was lying. I was hurting a lot on the inside and couldn’t understand how no one believed me. I became so lost that I shut myself out from everything. I started failing my classes and everyone called me "part time" because I never showed up for school, and if I did, I probably left before fourth period.

During this time, I found a lot of comfort in music and started going to a lot of shows and festivals. There was something about music that just made me feel right. When the lights would lower, the crowd would scream, and you would hear that opening guitar riff, the world just felt okay. It was like for hours I could just pretend I wasn’t the person I was and that I didn’t hold the feelings I held. For those hours I was just a regular happy teenager.

It was crazy how much I related to other fans and how we both related to the lyrics. I finally felt like I could understand my own feelings. I would listen to bands like Mayday Parade and All Time Low and I couldn’t believe how much they just understood me.

It sounds like your typical emo, but then again, I was your typical emo. I drowned myself in the music scene, going to every show I could get tickets to and becoming really active in the music world. At one point, I started a music publication website and starting shooting for Warped Tour and gigs that rolled through Chicago. It was crazy how much music changed my view on things. I was so happy I finally found others that I related too.

I ended up packing all my bags and moving down to Macomb, Illinois to become a proud Leatherneck. I wanted to become a photojournalist and be able to capture artist emotion on the stage. I thought going away to college would be the end to the “I’m finally happy” moment in my life. And it was… for about a month.

After the whole “I’m away from home and I am my own boss” high faded away, my depression and anxiety had gotten so bad that I tried to kill myself. I was sitting in class one day and the room just started spinning. I gathered up all my strength and asked my professor if I could leave. She said yes, and I took a bus back to my dorm room. I called my mom, hysterical, and she told me that I was probably stressed and should just miss the rest of my classes and take a nap. I agreed and hung up the phone.

For about an hour I lay in silence in my little twin sized bed. My mind was racing, but I had no thoughts. I had become so overwhelmed with this feeling that I decided that I needed to stop it. I lived on the twelve floor, so I took a chair and threw it at the window. I was going to jump. The window didn’t even have a scratch on it. I got so upset that I ran out of my room and into the washroom. My body was shaking and I was so set on ending my life I did the only thing I could think of, call 911.

The police came and took me to the hospital and I ended up being admitted into a Behavioral Center. There I was, diagnosed again depression and anxiety. They also told me I had Panic Disorder and OCD. I was in there for about a week and a half and after they let me leave, I decided that I couldn’t live in Macomb anymore. I needed to go back to Chicago.

A little after I moved back home, I started taking medication for my depression and anxiety and started to work with a new therapist with all my mental problems. She really helped me understand that my problems aren’t made up. One thing she told me that I will never forget is, “just because someone can’t physically see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Metal health comes in many different forms and just because you aren’t hysterically crying in the middle of the room, doesn’t mean it’s not there."

I wanted to get my life back on track. I enrolled into Columbia College and started to earn a degree in Music Business. Music had helped me so much through my ups and downs that I felt like I needed to almost repay it. I was to help new artist emerge so they can help teenagers, just like the emerging artists in my day helped me. I think music is very powerful and can really impact someone’s life. Lyrics are so powerful and I want artists that actual give a shit to emerge on the scene.

Although I still study music business today, I find that my world is opening up so many different doors. Recently, I feel like I can really impact someone’s life by sharing my stories and experiences and I really want to help people understand that It’s Ok To Not Be Ok.

(...) Some people may say what your feeling isn’t real, (but) at the end of the day, your feelings are your feelings and there are others out there who will help you. I grew up very lost and had my share of shit happen to me and if I can get even remotely through the day, I can really live a happy life.