High school years are usually filled with cliques, gossip, crushes, sports, and studying. High school was my favorite, which is weird because most people preferred the autonomy of college. I lived two different lives in high school. My public life consisted of excelling in AP classes, serving as student government president for three years, and enjoying social outings with my great circle of friends. My private life was filled with attending group therapy, fearing the overdose of my mother, and controlling my depression.
The mask I wore to hide my pain
People admired me because of my success and charisma. I had great relationships with faculty members and my friends always knew they could depend on me to be a listening ear. My classmates constantly complimented me on how well I had my life together because I was a master at keeping my private life a secret.
The day I vowed to never share my private life again
When I was a junior, I finally found the courage to share a piece of my private life with my best friend. I told her that I was being raised by my Nana because both of my parents were substance users. I confided in her because my depression had recently grown into suicidal ideation and I needed her help. Her response wasn’t the support I needed, but instead, she tried to empathize with me by saying, “My boyfriend just broke up with me, I’m sad too.” At 16 years old this response prevented me from opening up to anyone else and I realized my private life was something I had to overcome alone.
Unfortunately, my story is similar to a lot of people with mental illness. As an adult I realized that it wasn’t that my friend didn’t care about me, she just simply wasn’t equipped to respond to a loved one in crisis. Mental health is heavily stigmatized in communities of color so we are conditioned to ignore it.
What I’m doing to help others in their mental health wellness journey
My life mission is to find ways for us to become more comfortable discussing our mental health so we can receive healing and know how to help others along their mental wellness journey. I’m hosting Let’s Get Uncomfortable: Mental Health Makeover on October 22nd at 1pm at the Silver Spring Civic Center in partnership with the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Montgomery County. The afternoon will consist of honest dialogue around mental wellness, meditation, and art therapy. Each guest will take home a self-care package to assist them on their mental health journey to living a more abundant life. Both men and women are welcome.
Get your tickets today and use the code “MomsNCharge” for a special discount!
|This post was written by Ashley Freeman. As a Resiliency Activator, Ashley Freeman empowers individuals to realize that their circumstances don’t hinder their future. Through motivational speeches, content creation, and mental health advocacy on her platform, she emphasizes that adversity is only present to help you realize how resilient you are. Each obstacle should be used as a stepping stone to success. To find out more please visit www.DontDieAfraid.com. You can connect with Ashley on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.|